Who should Labour’s next General Secretary be?


3:40 pm - June 2nd 2011

by Don Paskini    


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Labour is currently recruiting for a new General Secretary.

This is the person who will be responsible for employing staff; campaign and media strategies; running the Party’s organisational, constitutional and policy committees; organising the Party Conference; ensuring legal and constitutional propriety; preparing literature etc. A tough job, but a crucial one.

So, what are the key qualities which Labour should be looking for?

Firstly, it is impossible to ignore the difficult financial situation that the Party is in. So it would be a massive boost if the new General Secretary were a formidable fundraiser, able to raise money from a wide range of sources, and reducing Labour’s reliance on trade union funding.

Secondly, Labour needs to run effective local campaigns across the country to win back seats to form a majority, particularly following the boundary changes. So the General Secretary, ideally, would have expertise in understanding how the party can select and support effective parliamentary candidates, make sure that local campaign plans are drawn up and that targets are met.

Thirdly, the General Secretary will have a key role to play in modernising the Labour Party, and in ensuring that there is a relentless focus on the concerns and priorities of voters, rather than fringe or marginal issues which excite activists or the political elite, but which are out of touch with the mainstream.

Fourthly, the new General Secretary will need political knowledge and judgement in order to survive and be able to impose their agenda. They will need to be able to hold their own in discussions with MPs, shadow ministers and the like, and strong political convictions to inspire them and keep them going when the going gets tough.

Yet at the same time, it would be an advantage if the new General Secretary had a ‘hinterland’ beyond politics. The Labour Party could benefit from the skills of someone who has successfully run a business, or a not for profit organisation, and who could bring skills beyond those which are acquired working for the trade unions or running a think tank.

For me, there is one obvious candidate.

Someone who a legendary fundraiser, whose name is synonymous with raising money to win elections. Someone who has experience of turning round out of touch political parties, and of supporting candidates to run effective local campaigns.

Someone who is relentlessly focused on the priorities of voters, and whose most recent research showed how Labour could exploit Tory weaknesses on crime and the NHS, and which showed that arguments like “Labour should take the Big Society seriously” are utterly marginal to voters’ concerns.

Someone whose appointment would be a clear sign that Labour has abandoned tribalist politics and is prepared to reach out and work together with others.

Someone who is a successful businessman and a patron of charities, who has combined this with enormous political experience and who knows how to deal with the media.

As Tony Blair once said, Labour is at its best when at its boldest. The time has come for Labour to choose the General Secretary who meets all the requirements and who can lead them to victory at the next election.

Lord Ashcroft

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About the author
Don Paskini is deputy-editor of LC. He also blogs at donpaskini. He is on twitter as @donpaskini
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Humour ,Labour party

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Reader comments


1. Bairy Hollocks

Tell you what, enough shite gags and Labour plugs, why don’t you, as a site, answer why we should ever give that party a chance to run the country again, given the mess they made of it?

Tell us why you’re willing to continue to back a party which introduced control orders?

Tell us why the gap between richest and poorest did nothing but widen while they were in power, despite all the spin, and why they haven’t substantially changed their collective mind on the policies which made this happen?

Or will you continue to churn out puff pieces in the name of humour when there’s less wit between the lot of you than there is in my mum’s left toe?

Hah! Funny, but worryingly true.

But are non-doms allowed to become party secretaries? His research is second to none though.

Might take a bit of persuading mind – I think one or two members of the Labour Party have said some rather personal things about him in the past.

Mind you, I guess a fifth criteria to being General Secretary of the Labour Party would be thick skin?

But are non-doms allowed to become party secretaries?

They’re allowed to be MPs, so I don’t see that party secretary should be too much of a stretch.

There is one teensy tiny flaw to this plan though, excellent as it is. Tom Baldwin would have to go…

The alternatives are worse.
The Tories didn’t win the election.

Defence policy: didn’t hold up six months after the DR and is a shambles.

Immigration: beloved of you right wingers; Today 160,000 immigrants turned into legitimate citizens at a stroke of a pen.

Education: Gove what a joke.

Health: Does anyone have any confidence in Lansely’s reforms that knows what they are talking about.

Economy: Zero growth, stagnation a real possibility and unlikely to clear the deficit by end of this term.

Control orders: Clearly so bad that this administration tinkered and dressed up the changes when in reality there is little.

Fantastic first year – not.

@6

“Immigration: beloved of you right wingers; Today 160,000 immigrants turned into legitimate citizens at a stroke of a pen.”

Nice to see that my impression of Labour as tories dressed up as socialists was spot on. A plague on both your houses.

What would be the substantive ideological difference between appointing Ashcroft and reappointing last General Secretary but one, Peter “don’t fight the cuts” Watt?

Labour contains well known figures who basically have very little problem with what the Tories are doing. Tony Blair for example. And even outside the increasingly demented Blairite clique, there are many who wish to stop Labour becoming “over reliant” on democratically organised people on low and middle incomes – the trade unions – by securing funding from dodgy billionaires representing a tiny strata of society, like Lord Ashcroft.

All of which makes Don’s post more tragic than funny, sad to say.

George Potter your comment didn’t even make any sense.

Very funny, punchline was worth the premise.

@ 8

As per.

11. Edward Carlsson Browne

@David Wearing – Ashcroft is willing to put the ideology aside to actually concentrate on winning elections?

As for the point about reducing funding based on trade unions, I’m afraid that one is going to be necessary. The Tories badly want to limit the maximum donation permissible, because they have plenty of millionaires happy to kick in £50,000, whereas we’re largely reliant on three unions for our funding.

Which is not to say we should move right to get more funding from the likes of Lord Sainsbury. It just to say that we have to reduce our reliance on union donations.

Lord Ashcroft would have to brave, very brave indeed to take on the Labour Party…

…But given the fact Ashcroft has, er, ‘won’ all those bravery medals means he must be the bravest man on the planet?

You never know, with all this Blue Labour nonsense and tactical eurosceptic positioning Labour might actually turn out to be more conservative than the Conservatives. He may actually be interested…

14. Watchman

Dirk,

You never know, with all this Blue Labour nonsense and tactical eurosceptic positioning Labour might actually turn out to be more conservative than the Conservatives. He may actually be interested…

My long-held desire to have a left-wing alternative I could actually vote for might kind of be met that way, but I suspect we’d end up with exactly the sort of conservative corporationist party that I loath…

Incidentally, is euroscepticism automatically right wing and conservative? I actually oppose the EU because it stifles innovation and development and tries to homogenise rather than free things up. I always saw that as a radical position, but still…

“Incidentally, is euroscepticism automatically right wing and conservative?”

Of course your correct, it would entirely depend on the motivations behind the conviction. However…

“I actually oppose the EU because it stifles innovation and development and tries to homogenise rather than free things up.”

Now that is certainly an attitude i would associate with right wing euroscepticism, carswell, hannan, reckless et al. Sure you dont want to cross the floor?

16. Charlieman

Don, were you serious in any of the four answers?

Here we go again Unions out , large donation from the state in.

Incidentally, is euroscepticism automatically right wing and conservative?

Ask Michael Foot and Tony Benn.

“As Tony Blair once said, ‘Labour is at its best when at its boldest.’
The time has come for Labour to choose the General Secretary who meets all the requirements and who can lead them to victory at the next election.”

Bold, brazen, dissembling, arrogant, Messianic – would Tony Blair be the best person to ask what the difference is between the meanings of these words? Let’s, for goodness sake, put that long shadow behind us – you’re consulting a very flawed Oracle there.

“The General Secretary who meets all the requirements . . . ?” All – What does that mean exactly – if anything at all?

“…who can lead them to victory at the next General Election.” That’s a new GS job requirement isn’t it? Since when did General Secretaries ‘Lead the Labour Party to victories? And whenever were they honourably required to resign for failing to do so?

Only three things really matter – he/she must be capable, scrupulous and definitely NOT be handicapped by a peerage. If he/she wants the job – dump the negatively symbolic Milord tag.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Who should Labour's next General Secretary be? http://bit.ly/mOVoFr

  2. sunny hundal

    Haha! @donpaskini half-jokingly makes the case for Lord Ashcroft to become Labour's new General Secretary http://bit.ly/mOVoFr

  3. Stew Wilson

    Haha! @donpaskini half-jokingly makes the case for Lord Ashcroft to become Labour's new General Secretary http://bit.ly/mOVoFr

  4. Tim Montgomerie

    Ha! Don Paskini suggests Lord Ashcroft should become Labour's next General Secretary… http://j.mp/jbyIPd

  5. PlatoSays

    Who should Labour’s next General Secretary be? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/vMGQlfC via @libcon < very amusing answer

  6. Jon Antill

    RT @libcon: Who should Labour's next General Secretary be? http://t.co/yAEv04O





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