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Ed Miliband plans more reforms to "open up" the Labour Party as he cautions public sector unions against striking over pensions

By Jonathan Isaby
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Ed Miliband 2010 Yesterday it emerged that Ed Miliband wants to abolish the annual Shadow Cabinet elections and today he will tell a meeting of his party's National Policy Forum about a whole range of other changes he wants to make to the party.

He is interviewed in today's Guardian, which summaries his proposals as follows:

  • Public petitions gathered by local parties should determine issues for debate at Labour's policymaking forum. In a form of crowdsourcing, he suggests either the 10 petitions with most signatures, or any petition with a minimum threshold of signatures, should be guaranteed a debate.
  • Non-party members, such as Greenpeace or other NGOs, would be entitled to speak at party conference as "registered consultees". Miliband said: "In order to have a good conversation at party conference, you've got to expand the conversation."
  • Trade unions would be "required to open up" so that local parties can access any of 4 million affiliated union levy payers living in their area. Miliband proposes every local party should meet twice a year with its local union levypayers to end what he describes as a "totally detached" relationship.
  • Local parties are to be given incentives to draw up a register of local supporters who back Labour's goals but do not wish to become members.
  • All parliamentary candidates and councillors are to be asked to sign a code of conduct committing themselves to be in regular touch with the public.

He also takes the opportunity to tell the public sector unions - for the first time - that striking over pensions would be a mistake:

"The most important thing for the unions is to get the public to understand what their argument is. I don't think the argument has yet been got across on public sector pensions as to some of the injustices contained on what the government is doing. Personally I don't think actually strike action is going to help win that argument and I think it inconveniences the public. I think strikes must always be the very last resort."

The Labour leader will be making his speech to his party around lunchtime.