Miliband brothers united over Labour voting reform

David Miliband has publicly backed his brother Ed’s plans to shake up the way Labour’s top team is selected.

The former Foreign Secretary yesterday endorsed reforms that would end shadow cabinet elections, raising speculation that he could return to the frontbench.

On Thursday evening, the brothers were spotted in Parliament’s Portcullis House locked deep in conversation.

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Their relationship has been fragile since Ed snatched the leadership on the back of support from the unions.

David Miliband stepped away from front-line politics but Ed has always been keen to make it clear he wants him back in a senior role.

Yesterday, on micro-blogging site Twitter, David Miliband said: “Well done to Ed for grasping nettle of shadow cabinet elections.”

Ed Miliband will announce proposals to scrap the ballot – held every two years in opposition – when the National Policy Forum (NPF) meets today.

A senior Labour source said it was time to “move on from the days of the 1980s” and become a “modern, outward-facing organisation”.

It is hoped the reforms would make Labour look like a party “ready for government” and end the time spent on internal campaigning, but ending the selection rule, which has been in place for more than 50 years, has already caused upset among some MPs.

Former leadership candidate John McDonnell said he was “really disappointed” by the proposals.

He added: “I hear people around him are spinning this as his ‘Clause 4’ moment where he demonstrates strong leadership by beating the party into submission. I think he has misread the situation.”

Mr Miliband will address the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) on Monday and is said to be “confident” of winning MPs’ support.

Conference will vote on the plans in September and, if passed, the changes would come into force immediately.

The reforms, part of the Refounding Labour organisational review to rebuild and modernise the party, would end the quota that means there must be a minimum of six female MPs in the shadow cabinet.

Deputy Labour Leader Harriet Harman has now called for changes to ensure the party guarantees there is a woman in a top job.

She wants a new selection process that would mean the leader and deputy were elected on a joint ticket with at least one woman candidate, or a leadership team of three was elected with a minimum of one female MP.

The proposals were backed by senior party figures, including Shadow Home Secretary and Pontefract MP Yvette Cooper and Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Tessa Jowell.

Ms Harman said: “Labour is the party of equality. Labour should be a team – of men and women working together on equal terms and making progressive decisions on behalf of men and women in this country.”