Vive la résistance la rue Victoria!

That’s the mood brewing in Labour’s Victoria street headquarters.

On Friday, the long planned internal Labour party restructure was finally announced: new departments, new directors, more effective party. Or at least that’s the official line.

While the changes do make some welcome technocratic adjustments, they are  ultimately driven by hard politics.

Labour HQ has long been regarded with suspicion by Ed Miliband’s team. During the leadership election it was virtually united in its backing for David.

Since then the relationship between Victoria street and casa Ed in Norman Shaw south has been frosty at best. One leadership loyalist recently described Victoria street as, “a vipers’ nest”.

The restructure is team Ed’s move to bring headquarters to heel. Despite the job advertisements and apparently open selection process, the big three appointments at communications, strategy and policy all have something in common: their previous employer, one E Miliband.

Bob Roberts, Greg Beales and Torsten Bell will seamlessly move a few hundred yards down the road from the leader’s Westminster office to impose direct rule on Victoria street.

Needless to say, the changes haven’t gone down well with a staff team that regards the Ed Miliband’s team with barely concealed derision.

One staffer whispered late on Friday, “Set aside the politics for a moment, what sort of job have this lot done for Ed? Do we want that to happen to the party operation? “

It wasn’t an isolated comment.

But it’s not just personnel that are being changed. Perhaps the biggest change is structural. The way the party is managed has been fundamentally redrawn with the creation of a new executive board.

The board brings together the executive directors, the general secretary with the leader’s chief of staff and deputy chief of staff. It will be the new decision-making heart of the Labour party machine.

The organisational independence of the Labour party from the leader’s office is now a thing of the past. For many, even amongst Ed sceptics, it’s a common sense step. A large gap between leader and machine is hardly conducive to effective campaigning.

But, as ever when power shifts like this, there are winners and losers, and the big loser here is the well-liked and respected general secretary Iain McNicol.

He wasn’t the leader’s choice for general secretary, but McNicol has been loyal and tried to ensure headquarters and the leader’s office worked together more smoothly in the few months since he took office in September.

Now with executive board, the dynamics at the top of the party are very different.

If an executive director, who nominally reports to the general secretary, has a difference of opinion about what should be done, the executive board not the general secretary will decide.

And what are the chances that some of the new executive directors might just decide to pick up the phone to their old chums in the leader’s office before executive board meetings to make sure they get the right decision, regardless of what the general secretary might think?

In the words of one staffer on Friday, “Iain is basically now a glorified head of HR”.

Over the weekend, as the scale of the changes were being digested by the Labour HQ team, two camps were emerging.

One group was dusting down CVs. It’s a tough market out there for Labour apparatchiks, but for many, even unemployment might be preferable to this brave new world.

The other was talking about resistance.

The signs of rebellion were evident even as the changes were being announced. Before the full staff team had been briefed, details were being leaked to Guido Fawkes, hardly team Ed’s greatest friend.

And then when Iain Mcnicol sent an e-mail to staff about the leaking, that was leaked to Guido as well.

For the rebels, it’s just the start. Over the coming weeks expect to see more signs of the Victoria street maquis. Team Ed has moved decisively to take control of the party operation. But lurking in the sandwich bars and watering holes of Victoria street, the resistance is plotting.

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5 Responses to “Vive la résistance la rue Victoria!”

  1. Clr Ralph Baldwin says:

    This is what happens, whichever side you are on, when people are elevated into positions for all the wrong reasons. People will be suffering and hurting in difficult times while these exceptionally shallow people paralyze their own Party as a result of vainglorious pettiness.

    Just once more highlights the complete and utter mess the Party is in.

    Your Party needs genuine objective and experienced professionals. As the author highlights once this body became a tool of one of the Leadership candidates it lost all legitimacy.

    Sad and pathetic.

  2. John P Reid says:

    PAul Staines,GUIDO FAWKES, OUGHT TO WATCH HIMSELF, BEFORRE HE GET’S SUED, IT’S INTERESTING WAY HE finds dirt On livingstone ,yet he tried to through everything he can get At Andy Burnham ,It’s alomst like he knows Livingstone is his won worse enemy and Is deepserate to get the Anti ken brigade out, yet he considers Burnham a real threat and see’s his as future leader who could win for labbur and as such must b stopped at all cost.

  3. John P Reid says:

    damn, ‘through’ should have read ‘throw’.

  4. The Future says:

    If there is a battle going on those that take on the leadership are clearly going to lose.

    Ah well. No need to be disapointed. This is just the final whinge of some people who think they are important but in a few months really won’t be.

    The world keeps spinning and those on the uber right isolate themselves even more.

  5. Brumanuensis says:

    Did Hodges write this? It has the feel of one of his pieces, including the over-blown analogies and the endless strings of anonymous sources, down to a ‘t’.

    I only ask because the actual article is so devoid of anything resembling interesting content. The leader’s office and the party staff are having a tiff. Forgive me if I choose to be more bothered about the NHS bill.

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