Labour’s new general secretary read election report “twice over line by line”

Sienna Rodgers

Labour’s incoming general secretary David Evans has read the Labour Together 2019 general election review and found the report “incredibly useful”, according to Lucy Powell.

The document, published on Friday, concluded that Labour needs a “major overhaul” of its “political strategy, organisation and campaigning infrastructure” to win again.

Manchester MP and shadow minister Lucy Powell, one of 15 commissioners, relayed the interest expressed by the new most senior employee of the party during an event on Monday evening.

Powell said: “We have briefed David Evans on the report. I know that he has read it. He actually told us that he has read it twice over line by line, making notes on every bit of it.

“I think he’s found it an incredibly useful basis for him in terms of going forward. Again, that’s one of the reasons that we wanted to do it. Lots of people have said to me and Ed in particular, ‘why have you done this, because you lost an election in 2015’.

“But as Ed and I have reflected many times, if someone had handed us such a substantive, objective report like this, with so many recommendations and so much in it in 2010, we would have ripped their right arm off – our own right arm off – to have such a thing.

“This is supposed to be a useful tool for David, for Keir, for Angela and for the rest of the new leadership team in going forward. And we hope that they do take it forward.”

Powell added that the commission is exploring whether to come back for another piece of work in one year’s time that would look at how much of the review was implemented.

Former leader Ed Miliband, who was also a Labour Together review commissioner, added: “It will be for David Evans to work out how to implement this report in organisational terms.

“But things like community organising, doing local campaigns, some of the things in this report people can act on – subject to coronavirus and the constraints it places.

“It doesn’t necessarily need to wait for the Labour Party to do its organisational review or whatever it is, and then make these changes happen, for us to try and do them in our own constituencies.”

The Zoom call hosted by Labour Together was joined by hundreds of party members and supporters, and attracted more than a thousand views on Facebook where it was broadcast live.

Powell, who participated in the 2016 shadow cabinet resignations, was also asked about how the perceptions of Jeremy Corbyn and Labour were affected by disunity in the parliamentary party.

“I resigned from Jeremy’s shadow cabinet in those days. I was really, really wrong to do that. It was a big mistake. Jeremy went on to prove us all wrong in the 2017 election,” she said.

“He then had to navigate what was a very difficult period for the Labour Party when Brexit came along and fractured our voter coalition. We all bear some responsibility for that and we’ve all got to hold up our hands.”

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