Thursday, June 20, 2024

UK election: The great battle for Labour Party jobs

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On this, and other hires, a fourth Labour official said: “A lot of it is in Sue [Gray’s] head. I would doubt anyone knows for certain.” | Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

There remains speculation among staff about how Labour will run the “cross-cutting mission boards” it intends to oversee Starmer’s “five missions” of economic growth, green energy, the NHS, crime and justice, and opportunity. On this, and other hires, a third Labour official said: “A lot of it is in Sue [Gray’s] head. I would doubt anyone knows for certain.”

Added into the mix of uncertainty around jobs is the influence of Labour-friendly think tanks — the most prominent being Labour Together, which loans its own staff to the party and whose director Josh Simons is widely expected to find a last-minute candidacy, and the TBI, in part thanks to MPs’ respect for the ex-prime minister who founded it. The frontbencher quoted above said: “Think about it — even the prospect of an hour talking to the man himself, the lord on high; for some Labour MPs it’s the closest thing to pornography.”

The crowded field of people trying to influence Labour leads some staff to worry they could be leapfrogged — by new staff or new MPs. “Slightly trumped-up, over-hyped young men need to do their time,” quipped the third Labour official, naming no names. 

The official added, however, that some new hires have helped calm fears among staff. They said Harvey Redgrave, a former adviser at the Tony Blair Institute (TBI) think-tank, and former Labour work and pensions adviser Graeme Cooke, were widely seen as collegiate and friendly after arriving at the party’s south London HQ in recent weeks.

What next for Morgan McSweeney?

Perhaps the most frequently whispered question relates to what lies next for Morgan McSweeney — Starmer’s election strategist who helped him become party leader.

Three of those who spoke to POLITICO said they could see McSweeney as a future Labour general secretary. “He’s so well-respected by so many people, and Keir is so indebted to him. If he wants a role, he could name it,” said the third Labour official quoted above.

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