It may feel like a lifetime ago, but Labour’s summer conference was overshadowed this year by the resignation of Corbyn’s policy chief, Andrew Fisher. At the time it was reported in part, but finally, you can read the full scathing and damning letter here. Pay attention to the bit about a “lack of professionalism, competence and human decency”…
I wanted to let you all know that I have today written to Jennie Formby to resign.
To illustrate why, I will use a few examples – all from yesterday:
• Firstly, a major speech I was working on for Monday was pulled, without any plan to reschedule
• A pamphlet that was being launched yesterday in Scotland was pulled (neither the Leader, Shadow Chancellor, Pauline Bryan who authored it, or me who had signed it off were told why – I still don’t know). Oddly, the event to launch it still went ahead
• A tweet was drafted for Jeremy in light of the recent Russian bombing of hospitals in Idlib. The tweet condemned Syrian and US bombings in Syria (I kid you not)
• I was told by a manager in Southside that I am the only ED trusted professionally by another ED (now in some ways this cheered me, but actually it’s incredibly depressing).
• Despite a strapline having been promised by the end of August since mid-July, there is still no conference strapline, with conference just one week away. Tens of thousands of pounds have been spent on focus groups and polling for this and there is no end-product, just a blizzard of lies and excuses.
• A member of another team complained to me that there is “a class divide” in their team
• Another member of the same team told me they are applying for other jobs (I know of one other who is too, and several others are already leaving)
• A confidential document that I had prepared for the Leader (who asked me to share it with 3 other people) was shared more widely and then left on a printer
• I find out that JC’s major policy announcement for conference has been leaked to the Telegraph
• I find out that a policy story has been briefed onto the front page of the Times without my knowledge or sign off – and without the knowledge of another shadow cabinet member whose area it affects. I had assured that team it had not come from us earlier in the day. I later find out that a member of LOTO press team, a senior politician and their staff, and a member of my own LOTO policy team have connived to leak it and not tell me. Bizarrely, they then thought I would welcome hearing their conflicting excuses (but not apologies) by whatsapp, text and phone. Unsurprisingly, after the day described above, I decided to ignore it all and spend a sliver of time with my wife and son.
None of these things individually would be enough to make me leave. All of them happening three or four years ago wouldn’t have been enough to make me leave. All of them happening yesterday are not why I am leaving. But they are a snapshot of the lack of professionalism, competence and human decency which I am no longer willing to put up with daily. I’ve tried to resolve some of these issues for a long time, but have been unable to – and yesterday just proved that I never will.
As the sole surviving staff member from Jeremy’s first leadership campaign, I think I’ve probably put as much into this project as anyone else. I leave proud of what we have collectively achieved, but I no longer have faith that we can succeed, although I do hope I’m wrong. In fact, please prove me wrong. I remain committed to winning a socialist Labour government with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister.
I also want to assure everyone that I will not be seeking a huge pay off (or any pay off). I do not have another job and have not applied for any. I won’t be briefing the press against anyone (never have, never will). I won’t be writing a book about my time working for the Labour Party. And I am not sharing this message anywhere else or with anyone else.
I will tell other staff and politicians that I am leaving due to family commitments. Between now and then I will continue to work hard to prepare us for conference, the likely imminent election, and to get us into a better and consensual place on Brexit.
I would strongly recommend that you consider promoting Mike Hatchett to Executive Director of Policy & Research (and backfill his role with Tom Webb) – but they are decisions you must take.
p.s. I will not be taking any calls this weekend, but I will participate in any work-related calls so that I can fulfil my role between now and when I leave. I’m not sending this message to start a debate and won’t engage in one. I’ll also delete it after a couple of hours.
Hat-tip to Skwawkbox. They published the letter earlier today but have since deleted it – Guido can’t think why…