Shortlist of six drawn up for Labour general secretary job

Sienna Rodgers

Labour’s general secretary appointment panel has drawn up a shortlist of six candidates after interviewing longlisted applicants today.

The following have been shortlisted:

  • David Evans – former regional secretary (1995-1999) and assistant general secretary of the party (1999-2001); founder and current director of The Campaign Company
  • Byron Taylor – former national officer of the trade union liaison organisation; former Labour group council leader in Basildon; longlisted for the general secretary post in 2018
  • Andrew Fisher – former Labour executive director of policy and research under Jeremy Corbyn
  • Neena Gill – former Labour MEP for the West Midlands (1999-2009; 2014-2020)
  • Karin Christiansen – former general secretary of the Co-operative Party (2012-2015); currently managing director of data polling and campaigns firm Datapraxis
  • Amanda Martin – president of the National Education Union; former parliamentary candidate; chair of Portsmouth Labour Party

David Evans is widely seen as the frontrunner favoured by the leader’s office, particularly Keir Starmer’s chief of staff Morgan McSweeney, and he has relevant experience as a former assistant general secretary.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, warned colleagues against picking Evans, describing him as a “factional figure” and “likely to be extremely divisive” on the basis of comments made during the Blair era.

Labour council leader Stephen Cowan has defended Evans, calling the applicant a “professional political campaigner – one of a small number of experts in the UK, and arguably the best in the country”.

Andrew Fisher is the preferred candidate of the Labour left, while the ‘soft left’ including a number of Labour MPs have picked out Karin Christiansen as the applicant on which they are most keen.

The party’s right had feared that the shortlist would not include those applicants most strongly favoured by their faction, as the panel comprised mostly members from the Labour left.

In 2018, the NEC was offered a choice of just two – Jennie Formby, the leadership-favoured applicant, or Christine Blower, who had only joined the Labour Party two years prior.

But this shortlist leaves the process open, and Labour’s full national executive committee will be presented with a politically varied choice of candidates when it holds a vote on Tuesday.

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