LONDON – Senior figures around Britain’s Labor leader Keir Starmer are unhappy with the performance of their general secretary and believe he should be replaced.
David Evans, the party’s top official, has been accused by some members of Starmer’s team of being too slow to implement operational changes and raise funds from private donors, according to four current and former officials.
Evans has also been criticized by some for his handling of Labour’s downsizing, which has reduced the party’s workforce by around a quarter.
He was appointed general secretary in May 2020, two months after Starmer was elected chairman, and has been billed as someone who could shake things up in a role normally filled by senior union officials.
He has since been praised for his handling of Labor’s backlog of anti-Semitism complaints and legal challenges that arose during Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure.
However, his internal critics believe he is unsuitable for increasingly important aspects of the job, including soliciting private donors, managing union relations and preparing the party for general elections.
“[The leader of the opposition’s team] really gotten together in the last eight, nine months. Now they look at the party machinery and see there is a massive problem,” said a Labor adviser.
Another adviser and two former Labor officials said certain members of Starmer’s team were unhappy with Evans, although some stressed the feeling was not universal.
“He messes up almost every appointment, whether it’s staff meetings, PLP appointments or shadow cabinet meetings,” said a former party official.
Another former senior Labor official said Evans had managed to implement key internal reforms but had struggled to build relationships during the pandemic.
“Some of the historical issues really needed to be addressed, and to be fair to David and others, they actually made sure the vast majority of the changes went through,” they said. “What they have to do now is build an organization for the next elections. That should be her right to exist for the Secretary General – the finances, the organisation, building the team and managing the broader policy.”
Fundraising is a high priority for Labor after almost two years in which efforts to attract private donors have not borne much fruit. The party is financially strapped due to high legal fees, the cost of running multiple parliamentary elections in quick succession and a cut in the constitutionally allocated funds it receives after losing dozens of MPs. The party said last year it had cut staff due to its financial problems.
Evans was confirmed as general secretary at the Labor Party conference in September after surviving an attempt by some of the party’s left to oust him.
Before taking on that role, he ran a political consultancy called the Campaign Company and was Deputy Secretary General of the party under Tony Blair. He is an ally of Starmer’s campaign manager Morgan McSweeney.
https://www.politico.eu/article/labour-general-secretary-under-fire-from-keir-starmer-allies/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication Power struggles at the top of Britain's Labor Party as they target next election - POLITICO