Review of Labour’s organisational structure launched with help of Bob Kerslake

Sienna Rodgers

New general secretary David Evans has informed party staff today that he is launching a review of Labour’s organisational structure with the help of former civil service head Bob Kerslake.

In a letter to staffers, Evans announced that the “open” review – seeking input from employees – will focus on “how to ensure we are aligned around our core purpose of winning elections”.

The review will take into account of the “increased influence of digital campaigning and global politics” as well as the impact of the coronavirus crisis, according to the general secretary.

While the letter describes the review as “not focused on staffing levels”, it adds: “I appreciate that this may leave some of you feeling uncertain about the future.”

Kerslake will “undertake an external component of the review in a voluntary capacity”, Evans says, and will put together a “small team of people with organisational development expertise to assist”.

The ex-head of the civil service has carried out reviews for Labour of the Treasury in 2015 and later the Labour leader’s office, and he was tasked with helping the party prepare for government.

The crossbench life peer who sits in the Lords has acted as an occasional adviser and consultant to then Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and then leader Jeremy Corbyn over recent years.

Kerslake’s team will report to Evans, who will “review recommendations and next steps for implementation in late September” – including issues raised by the Equality and Human Rights Commission report.

The EHRC draft report has been received by the Labour Party and publication of the finalised review on Labour’s handling of antisemitism is expected imminently, possibly next week.

Labour Together’s review of the 2019 election was released last month, and welcomed by the leadership. Evans reportedly found it “incredibly useful” and “read it twice over line by line”.

The document concluded that Labour needs a “major overhaul” of its “political strategy, organisation and campaigning infrastructure” – including its digital tools and approach to online campaigns – to win again.

“Labour needs to invest in and upgrade its technological infrastructure and capacities and should adapt its working culture and structures to match,” the 140-page Labour Together report said.

Evans’ letter tells staff: “I would like us to focus on ideas that can help us become a more agile, cohesive and purposeful organisation. As such, this review will cover all areas… as we all contribute to electoral success.

“We have a big set of elections in May 2021 and we need to be ready to face this challenge quickly.”

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