A North London Labour Party member
Former Blair aide David Evans was elected Labour Party general secretary at an NEC meeting on 26 May. Evans was an assistant general secretary under Blair from 1999-2001. He wrote a report in 1999 which proposed a radical overhaul of the party to isolate and marginalise the trade unions.
As general secretary, Evans leads the Labour Party apparatus. When Corbyn was leader of the party, the apparatus under Iain McNicol was used to undermine his leadership and sabotage the party’s 2017 election campaign. Conferences were rigged by the suspension of large numbers of left-wing delegates, and constituencies such as Wallasey were suspended when Blairite MPs were challenged by the membership.
The left did not challenge the edicts of the LP Regional Offices and slavishly followed their directives. During the final two years of Corbyn’s leadership, the general secretary position was held by Corbyn-supporting Jennie Formby. But she failed to stop the use of disciplinary measures to police the left, or to purge the predominantly Blairite machine.
David Evans’ appointment consolidates Starmer’s takeover of the Labour Party. Any attempts by left members to organise and challenge the leadership of the right will once again be met with suspensions of individuals and, if they consider it necessary, of entire CLPs.
Many Corbyn-supporting Labour Party members tore up their membership cards when Starmer was elected leader. But others have called on left members to ‘stay and fight’.
The problem is that the left refused to fight even when they had the upper hand in 2015-2019 – failed to introduce mandatory reselection of MPs, failed to purge the Parliamentary Labour Party, the austerity-implementing councillors, and the Blairite apparatus.
Now that the Blairites are firmly in the driving seat, it will be much harder for the left to organise a fight, even if they show a willingness.
In April, under the guise of ensuring Covid safety, the Labour Party regional directors banned all ward and Consituency Labour Party (CLP) general committee meetings. Even online meetings were banned on the pretext that these were not authorised by the rule book.
This move effectively suspended the entire membership of the party and every CLP in the country, allowing Starmer’s policy of “constructive engagement” with the Boris Johnson’s government to go unchallenged by the members. This was not met by any kind of resistance by the Labour Party left.
In an article he wrote for Huffington Post in 2014, David Evans argued that class politics itself had come to an end. But class struggle is not over. The coronavirus crisis has exposed the rottenness of neoliberalism and the capitalist market. It has shown the need for working people to organise to defend their safety and their rights.
While trade unions have been flooded by new members, the Labour Party has been Awol. The Labour Party under Starmer and Evans will not be leading the battle to defend the class interests of working people. The working class will need to build a new party to act as its political voice.