Boost for Keir Starmer as David Evans picked for Labour’s new general secretary
Labour's ruling National Executive Committee has picked David Evans to replace Jennie Formby as the party's general secretary.
Mr Evans will take over the running of the Southside headquarters after his appointment was given the green light on Tuesday.
Insiders said that despite an original slate of six candidates, the race for the top job was between Mr Evans, who served as the party's assistant general secretary under Tony Blair, and Byron Taylor, a former trade union liaison officer.
Mr Evans helped organised the party’s 2001 election campaign and was widely seen as the preferred choice of new leader Sir Keir Starmer.
Confirming his appointment, Mr Evans said it was “an honour and a privilege” to take on the top Labour job.
And he said: “We face a defining period in the history of our great party, with a global pandemic, an imminent recession and a mountain to climb to win the next election. Through the strength of our movement, I know we can rise to this challenge.
“I look forward to working with our party, trade unions and members to build a team that can win us the next general election and give us the opportunity to once again serve the British people in government.”
Sir Keir said Mr Evans would bring “a wealth of experience to this crucial role and a clear understanding of the scale of the task ahead of us”.
The party leader said: “I look forward to working with David to build a team that can help us restore trust with the British people and build a team that can win the next election.”
And Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said Mr Evans would “make a fantastic“ general secretary.
She added: “Last year’s election result was devastating for our movement.
“It is now our duty to work as a team to unite our party, reconnect with the British people and offer the better future that our country deserves.”
'NO PLACE' FOR ANTI-SEMITISM
Ms Formby, a key ally of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, announced she was standing down in early May, a month into the leadership of his successor.
She said at the time: “It has been a huge privilege to be general secretary of the largest political party in Europe for the last two years, but now we have a new leadership team it is the right time to step down."
Cardiff North MP Anna McMorrin told PoliticsHome Evans' priorities should be "preparing for the next election and winning" and building proper resource and capacity within HQ.
She added: "Also, making sure that complaints are dealt with swiftly and transparently, with absolutely no place for anti-Semitism. Getting the independent complaints process up and running will be very important.
"We’ve already seen a shift in how the party operates and that will be need to be taken forward."
Neil Coyle, MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, said implementing a national programme of voter engagement - and restoring confidence on issues including the response to anti-semitism - would be critical.
"There's a big job to be done in terms of education and training around voter ID and contact rates, which will be crucial not just in terms of winning new seats, but also holding onto the ones we have."
He added: "Also important will be getting a grip on complaints and discipline and implementing the leader's wish for a new independent complaints process.
"We have to prove we are back as a party that has proper values on issues that have too often been swept under the carpet in recent years."