Keir Starmer meets former Labour voter who doesn’t know him
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The party’s ruling national executive committee will consider plans to cut up to a quarter of all staff at a meeting later. Labour is in financial trouble and is desperately looking at ways to cut costs in order to have enough money to fight a future general election.
The party’s coffers were hit after fighting three general elections in six years.
A series of expensive legal battles over decisions taken during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership have also hit the party finances hard.
Last year Labour paid out a six-figure sum to seven former employees and BBC journalist John Ware after a libel claim.
Mr Ware had interviewed the staff for the BBC Panorama programme “Is Labour Antisemitic?” which first aired in 2019.
At the time, Mr Corbyn’s office accused the BBC of making up quotes and the former staff of “making a false and malicious statement”.
Labour had been hoping it might see a boost to the membership following Sir Keir Starmer’s election as leader last spring, but no such bounce has occurred.
A Labour insider said: “This is not an easy decision and we recognise it will be a very difficult time for staff and we will fully engage and consult with them and the trade unions throughout.
“We are reshaping our party’s operation with a view towards being fighting fit for upcoming campaigns and the next general election.”
The next election does not have to be until May 2024, but Boris Johnson is said to be already considering holding a vote before then.
The Government is thought to be planning to hold a general election in two years, going to the polls in 2023.
Labour’s most recent annual report showed the party employed 367 staff as of December 31 2019, just after the year’s general election.
The party is understood to be looking to cut around 90 staff.
General secretary David Evans is hoping the majority of the cuts can be met via a voluntary severance scheme.
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The plans have already angered trade unions.
Labour’s biggest donor, Unite, lashed out at the proposals last night.
The union said: “While working-class communities are continuing to bear the brunt of the sickness and employment worries made much worse by Conservative mishandling of the pandemic, Labour is abandoning the field of battle against this government to turn its fire on its members instead.”
Sir Keir has had a strained relationship with the unions since taking over from Mr Corbyn.
The Labour leader has been accused of not being tough enough in criticising the Government during the pandemic.
Sir Keir also left many union leaders angry when he suspended his predecessor from Labour last autumn.
While Mr Corbyn’s membership to the party has been reinstated, he has still not had the whip returned that would allow him to sit with Labour MPs in Parliament.
Sir Keir has a majority of allies on the National Executive Committee and the plans for the redundancies are expected to be backed by the ruling body.
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