Former SDP leader Lord Owen has made a donation to Labour coffers and praised the "brave and bold" reforms of the party's links with trade unions pushed through by Ed Miliband.
The peer served in a number of high-profile government roles for Labour, including foreign secretary, before leading the breakaway "gang of four" over differences on Europe and defence after a bruising party conference in 1981.
After far-reaching changes to Labour's structure were overwhelmingly agreed at a special conference in London, Lord Owen revealed he has given up his crossbench status in the House of Lords to make a contribution of "over £7,500" to his former party, but will remain independent.
He said: "This very desirable change, nevertheless, threatens to weaken Labour's financial support at a critical time when I and many others are hoping to see the party produce a plan for government from May of next year to rescue our NHS."
Labour leader Ed Miliband has tweeted:
21 years ago John Smith set out on the journey of One Member, One Vote. Today we have completed that journey. #OneNationPolitics
The reason we have changed our party today is so that we never lose touch again. #OneNationPolitics
Now the battle to change our party is over. The fight for the future of Britain has just begun. #OneNationPolitics
Labour's special conference has approved reforms to the party's structures, including its historic link with unions.
Former Prime Minister and Labour leader Tony Blair has said Ed Miliband has shown "real courage" as a special conference is set to approve changes including the historic link between Labour and the unions.
– Tony Blair
Ed has shown real courage and leadership on this issue. It is a long overdue reform that as I said before, was something I should have done myself.
It puts individual people in touch with the Party and is a great way of showing how Labour can reconnect with the people of Britain.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has tweeted:
Delegates are voting. Let’s change our party. Let’s build a movement. So we can change our country. #OneNationPolitics
Ed Miliband has urged Labour to have the "courage to change" as he called for support to introduce changes to its link to the unions.
The Labour leader said backing the biggest transfer of power in its history would help build a strong party which could sweep it to victory.
At a special conference in London of unions, constituency MPs and other delegates to approve changes Mr Miliband said: "I am proud of our link with working people and with trade unions.
"I want to hear the voices of working people to be heard louder in our party than ever before and in the 21st century not everyone wants to be a member of a political party."
Labour leader Ed Miliband has tweeted ahead of a conference which is set to approve reforms over the party's links to the unions.
Today I'm asking Labour to seize the chance to change our party so that together we can change the country #OneNationPolitics
Only Labour can be the party that fights for everyone, from every walk of life, from every part of the UK. #OneNationPolitics
General secretary Len McCluskey has said he suspected only 10% of Unite's one million members affiliated to the Labour Party would opt to stay in if they were asked now, as the party is set to approve changes with its links to trade unions.
However, Mr McCluskey added that he welcomed any move for trade unionists to have a more direct affiliation with Labour, saying it was part of Unite's political strategy.
Mr McCluskey said:
We want to get more of our members engaged with Labour at grassroots level. We see this as an opportunity and a challenge to actively talk to our members and try to persuade them to give a commitment to Labour.
We have a million members who pay the levy. We will have to ask them whether they are prepared to tick a box to say whether they are happy for some of their money to be given in affiliation fees to Labour.
A special conference of unions, constituency MPs and other delegates is set to approve changes put forward by Labour leader Ed Miliband, who has proposed to reform links between the party and trade unions.
Under the new proposals, the changes would consist of:
- Unite gives Labour around £3 million a year in affiliations and there has been speculation that this could be reduced by up to half.
- New members will be asked immediately if they want to affiliate, but there will be a five-year period for consultation with existing union members.
- The electoral college system for leadership elections - which gives a third of the votes each to the unions, party members, and MPs and MEPs - will be scrapped for a system of one member, one vote.
- MPs aspiring to lead the party will now require the support of 15% of their colleagues to get on to the ballot paper rather than the 20%.
- Contenders would need 39 nominations and as many as six candidates could go forward for a ballot of party members.