Labour’s head office in “chaos” as Livermore begins his first day in charge

This morning, Spencer Livermore will step across the threshold of Labour’s Brewer’s Green HQ and formally take charge of Labour’s general election preparations.

As we previously reported, Ed Miliband’s personal appointment of the former Gordon Brown protégé as campaign director effectively sidelines the party’s general secretary, Iain McNicol, the party’s chief official, who was appointed by the party’s National Executive Committee in 2011.

Ahead of Livermore’s arrival, the atmosphere at Brewer’s Green is tense, with one well-placed insider describing it as “chaos” as the fallout from the botched Falkirk selection continues to play out in the media spotlight.

“There’s a total breakdown of trust between the general secretary’s team and the leader’s office,” says the insider.

“The staff are completely paralysed. It’s like a sitcom being played out before us”.

Yet this is a sideshow compared to the potential calamity next spring as Ed Miliband seeks to drive through his landmark changes to the way affiliated trade unions fund the party.

Miliband is staking everything on getting a new opt-in arrangement where millions of ordinary trade unionists choose to support the party, rather than have union chiefs wielding their chequebooks on their members’ behalf.

Party sources claim that Miliband sleepwalked into announcing the reforms without really understanding their full implications.

“Virtually the entire staff understood you’re ending the collective link but even the most senior advisers to Ed didn’t realise” says one insider.

The tale doing the rounds is that a handful of Miliband’s closest confidantes cooked-up the proposals at a barbeque at his house on the Sunday afternoon before he made his speech calling for an end to trade union “machine politics” back in July.

As of today, Livermore’s task is to keep the focus on the general election, regardless of how Miliband’s party funding proposals work out.

He will also have to draw clear demarcation lines between his role and McNicol’s, or run the risk of blurring proper lines of accountability and corporate governance.

But a Brewer’s Green source warns that more trouble is on the horizon. “The thing that’s hanging over everything is what happens with affiliation fees”.

Some estimates say Labour will lose £5 million if Miliband’s reforms do not lead to hundreds of thousands of trade unionists joining the party.

Meanwhile Unite’s annual review of its affiliation fees may see the union – Labour’s biggest financial backer – follow the decision of the GMB, which voted to slash the amount it gives to the party by 90 per cent back in September.

If Unite does likewise, Livermore may find he is left planning a campaign he cannot finance.

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6 Responses to “Labour’s head office in “chaos” as Livermore begins his first day in charge”

  1. swatantra says:

    Nonsense, the link will still remain but in a different updated form. And, the loss of £5m will not be a disaster, just means Labour will have to be leaner and more efficient. EdM did the right thing. Labour will also have a cidgel to beat the Tories with: ‘No more cries of being run by the Unions’. But its a pity that the NEC has been sidelined by EdM putting his own man in; but this just shows tnhat the NEC itelf needs reform and has doisproportionate Union and MP influence. At the end of the day a Party should be run by its members. OMOV.

  2. Ex Labour says:

    @ Swatantra

    You forget that the bloodletting will be played out in full public view and history tells us that divided parties, even those divided with their sponsors, do not do well. The public already have doubts over Miliband as PM and Labour’s fiscal responsibility under his leadership. We now see Miliband and his team hate Ed Balls and his interference – as do the public.

    You also seem to have a laid back attitude to losing £5 M. On top of the £12 M owed to the Co-Op Bank. Most union people I have spoken to have no intention of signing up with again with Labour.

    Have you been on the crystal meth as well ? 8-))

  3. steve says:

    “Some estimates say Labour will lose £5 million if Miliband’s reforms do not lead to ”

    There certainly won’t be hundreds of thousands of trade unionists joining the party. As a member of Unite I’ve always relied on the Unite leader to represent my interests within the Labour. This is because otherwise, as a recently lapsed ordinary Labour Party member, my views, along with those of others, have been ignored or dismissed.

    I suspect most trade union members will get the message: you are no longer wanted. If Ed follows through, the elite should waste no time and push through another reform: change the name from Labour Party to Progress Party. Then silenced trade unionists and former Labour supporters will be free to build a Party better able to represent honest-to-goodness Labour values.

  4. southern voter says:

    I just wonder if Labour has fallen into an elephant trap set by the Tory media to end the union link and in so doing impoverish the labour party to such an extent.
    It will not be able to compete with the Tories during the election campaign in 2015.

  5. Reality says:

    @southern voter

    Tory media? Yep, that same media that purposefully ‘tweaks’ content so the impact of millions of non white immigrants . Don’t believe me? Look at the guidelines set by National Union of Journalists (nothing left wing there), the society of editors and race relations legislation which makes it an offense to publish material that can put a minority in bad light.

    Impoverish? Like Labours policies have done to millions of the poorest in society?

    Just one government more and the racial demographics of this country will be such that controlling the countries own borders will become politically unobtainable


    UNITE represent you? The political lackys say they represent you all the while implementing the polices that have made you worse off in the first place!

    How about the ex leader of Unite who publicly says he would rather have a city of Africans from Beckham than BNP men and women from Burnley. Would you prefer to live alongside criminal Africans or patriotic English men and women?

  6. Jt says:

    I have always been a Labour voter but only joned the Labour Party when Ed Milliband became leader
    That’s not because of his personal charm but because I believed him to be a polititian with princilple and belief.
    A conviction polititian if you like rather than the career polititians like Blair Cameron etc.
    It saddens me to see him appoint marketing Gurus to camaign HQ because it gives the impression he doesn’t believe truth and conviction is enough and spin counts for more.

    At this moment the Coalition are printing money with gay abandon and the effect of that is to artificially lower interest rates for anyone with savings while encouraging others to borrow money while the going is good
    This makes no sense whatever as the borrowers will sooner or later hit a brick wall of rising interest rates and default
    Meanwhile those with savings don’t spend because their income has been reduced and they see inflation reducing the true value of their savings

    There was much talk about Cyprus robbing savers with a tax of 20% on savings over 100,000 but here silence as the government effectively taxes the millions with small savings pots by printing money

    Ok you might say but if interest rates rise then millions will be unable to meet their comittments wrecking their lives
    plus the Government which is borrowing even more now than when it came to power would be in even more trouble.

    The Tory solution is always based on the “let’stake a £1 from a million poor people” rather than £100,000 from ten rich ones

    I would say let’s use the National saving NS&I to give savers a reasonable rate of return cutting out the bankers and making the funds of UK savers available to the Government at sustainable interest rates so it can be invested in the necessary infratstructure.
    Forget Public Private Finance Initiative that was an idiotic plan cooked up by a Prescott an a disaster

    At the moment the Banks acting as a middle man take cheap money and lend dear that needs to stop now and a differential maximum rate of say 2% legislated for so they can’t lend more than 2% above the rate they pay savers

    The Labour party should aim to establish a support network for credit unions in the UK to help those who save and those who borrow both at the sme time and reduce the dependency on Banks who believing they are too big to fail can rob at will.

    If Ed Milliband believes an election can be won on spin policies like freezing fuel bills (rather than effective regulation) or making teachers re-register every two years then we are dead in the water

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