Owen Smith has pledged that Labour policies will be bound by party conference decisions both in opposition and in government, as members began to receive their leadership ballots. This follows Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement of a raft of proposals for party democracy.

Smith said he understood the exclusion members felt during the years of Labourgovernment when the party’s annual conference had not been sovereign, and said he would lead “a revolution in accountability” in which members would have to sign off on the general election manifesto.

“I know the biggest fear that is in members’ minds on this day when they are considering making up their minds on this choice, is a concern we will go back there again, to a period of top-down control where members were to be seen and not heard,” he said on Monday. “I promise you it will not happen if I am the leader of this party.”