Rebecca Long-Bailey, typically regarded as the most Corbynite candidate in Labour’s leadership race, has criticised “mismanagement and bad organisational culture” in her party and said that these factors “let down” staff in the 2019 election campaign.
Labour members were also “held back” during the campaign in December by “outdated party machinery”, Long-Bailey has pointed out. “Key digital tools were starved of funding and often broke down, hampering activists’ ability to campaign.”
The leadership hopeful has said that the Labour Party – under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn – targeted the “wrong seats” in 2019 “based on partial data”, and this meant that party activists “wasted efforts campaigning in places we couldn’t win”.
There has been much criticism within the party since the election of huge numbers of activists being directed towards constituencies such as Uxbridge, Boris Johnson’s own seat, rather than marginal seats Labour was likely to lose such as Bury North.
“Under my leadership, there will be a full and impartial review into the failings of our 2019 campaign, and the culture of HQ will be part of that,” Long-Bailey has vowed, adding that Labour staff “deserve the proper support and resourcing to do their jobs”.
Implying that cronyism exists within the party currently, the MP for Salford and Eccles added: “Under my leadership, staff will be fully supported, and promotions will be based on what you know, not who you know.
“Labour will commit to open, transparent recruitment process that brings in the best talent and expertise money can buy. I don’t care which wing of the party you’re from. If you’re competent, professional and get the job done, I want you working for Labour.”
The leadership candidate, who secured her place on the ballot paper after gaining the nominations of Unite, BFAWU, CWU and FBU trade unions, is trailing behind Keir Starmer in terms of local party nominations. She has 64 CLPs, while the Holborn MP is storming ahead with 144.
Long-Bailey’s criticism of how the 2019 election campaign was run is widely being interpreted as a bid to distance herself from the ‘continuity Corbyn’ label that has been attached to her candidacy since before it was officially announced.
Setting out in further detail her plans to turn Labour into a “professional, modern party that can go toe-to-toe with Dominic Cummings”, Long-Bailey said she would hire a chief technology director to “oversee a digital transformation in party HQ”.
She said: “The Bernie Sanders campaign in the USA uses digital organising to raise huge amounts of money and mobilise hundreds of thousands of activists. Momentum, a grassroots campaign with a fraction of the resources of the party, is still way ahead in terms of member mobilisation and social media.
“There is no excuse that we’re lagging behind. Under my leadership we’ll go toe to toe with Dominic Cummings, properly fund our digital operation and bring in as much external expertise as necessary.
“It’s 2020 and we have to be the global best. To win power we must build Labour into a mighty election winning machine.”