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Labour Staff Fear Party Will Struggle To Win Another Election With "Corporate Style" Jobs Plan

Labour Staff Fear Party Will Struggle To Win Another Election With 'Corporate Style' Jobs Plan
3 min read

Labour staff have claimed they are moving further away from voters than ever over fears the party's restructuring and major job losses will put them at the back-foot at the next election.

Labour has said it needs to cut around 90 jobs – between a quarter and a third of its total workforce – to try and cope with the party's struggling finances following various legal payouts and cuts in union contributions from significant donors including Unite. It is believed the party needs to make savings of around £5 million.

In a presentation to Labour staff this morning, seen by PoliticsHome, general secretary David Evans laid out plans for employees to work in a more "agile and multi-disciplinary" way, which some believe is corporate-speak for fewer staff being asked to take on more work. 

Staff sitting in on the presentation, which was titled "Organise to Win", criticised it as a "jargon-filled" restructuring of the party that they felt made little sense in terms of harnessing the party's resources in order to win an election. 

"This is woeful," one Labour insider told PoliticsHome. 

"David Evans keeps talking about the party being 'closer to the ground' but he never says what that actually means, or how we'll do it with so few staff and fewer people in the regions.

"We've cut the community organisers, disenfranchised whole swathes of young activists, now we're cutting a third or quarter of staff. None of that takes us closer to the ground."

The presentation charted Labour's new organisational structure of a "hub and spoke" model but left some confused about what this will mean in practice. 

One section on "ways of working" said the party will put voters at the heart of their new structure through "voter-centric, agile, multidisciplinary practices". 

Another section relating to the party's digital and field delivery strategy, said: "These teams will adopt a product-mindset using agile ceremonies, be empowered to make decisions and encouraged to focus on rapid, prototyping, deployment and iteration." 

The "voter-centric" section said that this meant the party should not tell people what they should think or do, or ask them questions on the party's terms. The presentation said staff should be "actively listening" to voters.

But there was concern within Labour that cutting resources would instead inhibit the party's ability to win back support lost to the Tories in 2019's catastrophic general election defeat. 

"They're trying to turn a tanker round while cutting a third of the crew," one staffer said. "There will be a dilution of experience and skills."

They added that the plan presented today "does not fill me with confidence" that Labour is on track to win the next election, which some have speculated could come as early as 2023.

The party is currently running a voluntary redundancy scheme for staff, with a compulsory redunancy process expected to follow that if they don't reach their target number of job cuts. 

One party insider in the north east of England said they expect some of the cuts to fall on regional organisers and the administration and communications staff that accompany those positions.

However they said Labour North staff were waiting for today's presentation to try and work out what it means for indvidual jobs. 

The Labour party has been contacted for comment. 

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