David Evans's rise to General Secretary shows the return to Blairism by Starmer's Labour, says Lucy Nichols
The election of David Evans as the Labour Party’s new General Secretary marks a relief for the right of the party and is a serious blow to the left. Keir Starmer’s preferred candidate for the position won 20 votes from the National Executive Committee, while the leading left candidate Byron Taylor was the choice of 16 other members of Labour’s NEC.
A relic of New Labour and Blairism, Evans was the assistant general secretary from 1999 – 2001; it was in this period that he wrote a memo criticising the meagre internal democracy of the Party, suggesting it be removed entirely. His track record since 2001 has not done much to inspire any optimism from the left either. In 2010, Evans oversaw Margaret Hodge’s campaign against the British National Party in Barking and Dagenham, where she made several controversial comments that made concessions to the BNP’s racism.
The balance of power in the Labour Party, after five years of hope under Corbyn, has fallen back into the hands of the right. Furthermore, the election of Evans – a staunch Blairite – proves that Starmer’s promise to end factionalism within the party was simply not true. Fears of a purge of left-wing members have been reignited, and for many, the new Blairite general secretary represents a thorough defeat, as Sienna Rodgers remarks in her piece for the Guardian;
‘the end of Corbynism is complete.’
More worrying is the impact this shift to the right could have on Trade Unions; the Bakers’ Union and the FBU have already condemned the election of Evans, a stringent supporter of Blair’s anti-union, anti-socialist new Labour. In an era where unions are gaining members in their thousands and class consciousness appears to be booming, the Labour Party should be coming out in full force supporting working people - but it is not. Starmer’s opposition is tepid at best; his uncritical response to the latest Cummings scandal proves that he is not even remotely interested in representing the working classes. This stance will be detrimental to both unions and the Labour party, but it is Unions who will suffer most if both Government and Opposition parties decide to act against them.
David Evans will no doubt be the final straw for many who supported Corbyn’s socialist Labour Party. Forward Momentum argued that the ‘left needs to get organised to protect party democracy and the central role of Unions’. This is true, Unions must be protected at all costs – especially given the crucial work they are currently undertaking to keep all of us safe. Also true is that the left needs to get organised; but not just the left within the Labour Party. Now more than ever, we need a strong and uncompromising extra-parliamentary left; one prepared to oppose the murderous Conservative government and stand up for socialism inside and out of the Labour Party.
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