Labour tries to rein in power of unions after row

LABOUR will impose a spending cap on candidate selection contests and consider introducing US-style primaries in an attempt to limit the power of trade unions, the party said yesterday.

The move puts party leader Ed Miliband on a collision course with the Unite union, by far Labour’s largest financial backer.

In recent days Unite has been accused of using union funds to flood local constituency Labour parties with new members to ensure union-backed candidates, who are generally more left-wing, are selected as candidates.

Miliband is expected to use a speech tomorrow to propose reforms of the candidate selection process at constituency level, including measures to reduce the cost of standing for selection.

The growing scandal has already led to the resignation of Tom Watson, the party’s election co-ordinator and last week Labour handed a dossier of evidence on the much-criticised selection process for the Falkirk constituency to police.

Karie Murphy, the union-backed candidate who originally won the selection process, works as Watson’s office manager and has close links to Unite boss Len McCluskey.