David Evans

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Person.png David Evans LinkedInRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
David Evans1.png
BornDavid Richard Evans
25 February 1961
Alma materUniversity of York
Founder ofThe Campaign Company

Employment.png General Secretary of the Labour Party Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
25 September 2021 - Present

Employment.png Acting General Secretary of the Labour Party

In office
26 May 2020 - 25 September 2021

Employment.png Co-founder and Director

In office
23 August 2001 - 26 June 2020
EmployerThe Campaign Company

Employment.png Assistant General Secretary

In office
February 1999 - October 2001
EmployerLabour Party

Employment.png Trade Union Liaison Officer

In office
September 1983 - July 1986
EmployerCroydon TUC

David Evans is Keir Starmer's pick as General Secretary of the Labour Party succeeding Jennie Formby.[1]

Although Labour's NEC confirmed David Evans as acting General Secretary on 26 May 2020, his appointment is subject to approval by a vote at the party’s annual conference. The cancellation of the 2020 conference because of COVID-19 means members will be denied a say on Starmer’s choice until at least autumn 2021, unless a special conference is called once large gatherings are permitted, or the party’s rules are bypassed to approve the appointment without a conference vote.[2]

On 25 September 2021, SKWAWKBOX reported:

Labour’s mass gerrymander of conference delegates – attacking and suspending left delegates on any pretext and none – has succeeded in saving David Evans from accountability for his atrocious tenure as ‘acting’ general secretary.[3]

The remaining conference delegates and right-wing unions succeeded in confirming him in the role by a ratio of 59:41 – still unheard-of level of dissent for a Labour general secretary.

The right’s contempt for democracy is writ large on this conference.[4]

Controversy and conflicts of interest

The appointment is controversial, as David Evans was the author of a report that recommended a “radical overhaul” and a "New Labour solution" under Tony Blair to isolate the Old Labour left, doing so in derisory terms – and in the language of branding and marketing so typical of Blairism.[5]

SKWAWKBOX view:

If Evans is appointed, Labour’s switch from being run by a left-wing, working-class union activist to a company director keen on branding and focus groups will be an ominous sign of the party’s direction under Keir Starmer, especially with the issue of the leaked Labour report[6] still unresolved.[7]

Leaked Labour report

David Evans was Labour’s Regional Director in the North West and then assistant General Secretary advising Margaret McDonagh, working on Tony Blair’s 2001 election campaign.

Margaret McDonagh was then appointed General Secretary of the Labour Party. The BBC says “her name became synonymous with the creation of New Labour”.

While McDonagh was General Secretary, and while David Evans was her right-hand man, trade unions were sidelined and their views generally disregarded.

In addition, this closeness to Margaret McDonagh raises issues because her sister Siobhain McDonagh is very good friends with Greg Cook, who is named in the recently-leaked Labour report. How can a new General Secretary with a personal connection to those accused by the report fairly oversee an investigation into those accusations?

Abolishing democratic structures

During this time, Evans wrote a report comparing constituency parties to Del Boy’s Trotters Independent Traders and advocating a “New Labour” solution to reform Labour at the local level that would isolate left-wing members and make local Labour parties more like Marks & Spencer.

His report said:

“We have a strong, positive branding at national level,” said the document. “But we are badly let down by a very poor high street presence. Indeed, the majority of local Labour parties are more like Trotters Independent Traders [from BBC TV’s "Only Fools and Horses"] than Marks & Spencer … We are a ramshackle confederation of market traders.“

The report, called ‘A New Labour Party’, argued for an overhaul of internal party structures to isolate left-wing members, described in the report as “Old Labour”. The report said “done correctly, it will empower modernising forces within the party and marginalise Old Labour.”

The report was seen by some grassroots members as an attack on democracy within the party as well as an attack on left-wing members.

The report stated that “representative democracy should as far as possible be abolished in the Party”. Evans proposed that General Committees in local Labour Parties be replaced with a ‘working Executive’. The Campaign for Labour Party Democracy described this as “a smaller, less inclusive body”, which would reduce the number of people actively involved in the Party. The Campaign said there would be no chain of accountability as presently exists, whereby GC delegates regularly report back to their branches” and that “the Executive – insulated from pressure from party branches – would have a blank cheque to run the CLP”.

How can someone who called for the abolition of democracy in the party be considered as its General Secretary?

CLPD described Evans’ proposal as “a bid to remove all intermediate structures in the Party so that we’re left with a passive, powerless membership and an all-powerful leadership” and said such reforms would only serve to “replicate at local level the current monopoly of power at the top of the Party, which has already led to the leadership getting out of touch and has produced electoral setbacks”.

Evans’ report provided examples of organisational arrangements adopted by various CLPs in which Blairites are dominant. This included Enfield Southgate, whose MP was Blairite Stephen Twigg. Evans’ plan has been implemented in Enfield Southgate and the traditional structure of the CLP completely dissolved. The GC had been abolished and the constituency party was run by a small Executive, which was elected once every twelve months and was not answerable or accountable to CLP members the rest of the year. Even branches had been wound up, except for selection meetings, and in their place were constituency-wide “issue groups”. This is the model which Evans’ report proposed imposing across the country. Stephen Twigg lost Enfield Southgate to the Conservatives in 2005, which undermines Evans’ argument in his report that these reforms to CLPs and the “abolition” of representative democracy would improve Labour’s electoral prospects. The seat was not regained by Labour until the UK/2017 General Election.

Labour candidate selections

In 2002, The Times reported that General Secretary David Triesman ordered an inquiry into Aline Delawa’s undeclared conflict of interest in handling internal party selections while she was the secretary of David Evans’ company, which was campaigning for candidates in those internal party selections.[8]

Aline Delawa, David Evans’ wife and Head of Labour’s Constitutional and Legal Affairs Unit, oversaw the rules governing the selection of Labour candidates while she was Secretary of The Campaign Company, set up by David Evans.[9]

A year after David Evans’ role as Assistant General Secretary ended, the new General Secretary David Triesman announced that there would be an inquiry into the conflict of interest.

According to The Times Triesman said he was “surprised” at the disclosure and ordered an inquiry into the affair and he also admitted that if Delawa worked in a government department instead of the Labour Party, it would not be allowed as it might be seen to be a conflict of interest.

Triesman said he would never have put Aline Delawa in a position where she might have been compromised, such as handling a dispute over ballot papers or a very close result.

The Campaign Company’s website boasts that it can help “elected representatives, candidates, organisations and issue-based groups who now need a more professional approach to successfully campaign to get their message across”. When asked why his wife had been made company secretary when he founded the company, David Evans said “I can’t remember.”

Croydon Council

Deputy Leader of Croydon Council Alison Butler has close family ties to David Evans and has been involved in decisions to award contracts to his firm, The Campaign Company, without declaring a conflict of interest.

Inside Croydon has reported that contracts worth almost £200,000 were awarded in the space of four years to The Campaign Company.[10]

David Evans is the father of Alison Butler’s daughter from a relationship in the 1990s and Alison Butler’s son from another relationship is also employed by The Campaign Company.

Ms Butler was criticised for failing to declare this conflict of interest and the quality of the work conducted by The Campaign Company has been called into question.

The Campaign Company also conducted a review of Derbyshire County Council which reportedly led to the in-house press officers being made redundant and replaced with Julian Ellerby, who did not have previous experience in local government, running Derbyshire Council’s communications from Brixton Town Hall. Julian Ellerby was Labour’s Director of London Region while David Evans was Labour’s Assistant General Secretary and the two were former colleagues.[11]

Letters to the General Secretary

NEC members' letter

On 24 November 2020, left members of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) ‘walked out’ of a virtual NEC meeting. They had written this letter to the party’s General Secretary David Evans about the walk-out, condemning the factionalism, contempt for rules and process and the undermining of the NEC’s legitimacy by the leadership that they say drove the walk-out:

Dear David,

As proud members of the NEC we find ourselves unable to stay in today’s meeting. As you will be aware we recently wrote to you to request that you admonish the Leader of Labour, Sir Keir Starmer, for his decision to undermine the role of the NEC by withdrawing the whip from Jeremy Corbyn MP.

The withdrawal of the whip directly undermined the legitimacy of the NEC decision to reinstate Jeremy Corbyn’s membership. It was made worse by Keir Starmer subsequently permitting his shadow cabinet members to make commentary on media that was clearly intended to undermine the legitimacy of the NEC process.

At today’s NEC the agenda item of election of the Chair and Vice Chair of the NEC appears. It is a matter of disagreement as to whether these agenda items can be heard absent the officers agreeing the agenda. But regardless it has become apparent that the longstanding protocol of the Vice Chair being elected as Chair is not to be followed.

Instead the leadership has lobbied for Dame Margaret Beckett to be Chair. The public reason for such lobbying is to be given as Dame Margaret being the longest serving member of the NEC. This is not protocol and is another example of the Leader promoting factional division within Labour. We believe the true reason for the Leader lobbying for Dame Margaret, and indeed the reason that had been given by senior party MPs in private, is because the Vice Chair, Ian Murray FBU, was a signature to the previous correspondence sent to you seeking admonishment of the Leader: The Leader’s decision to again promote factionalism comes at a time when the historic relationship with trade unions is under tremendous strain.

Already we know that the Bakers’ Union are balloting their membership as to affiliation and the decision of the Leader to lobby and brief against the President of the FBU taking the Chair, as would be protocol, must be seen in this context.

As the General Secretary of the Labour Party you should be stepping in to uphold the Rulebook, maintain protocol, remind the Leader that he is an officer of the NEC and prevent factionalism. We have decided not to remain in the NEC meeting today in order to show very clearly how factional the decisions of the current Labour Leader have become. We will be returning to future NEC meetings to be the legitimate voice of the membership and to continue to demand that the party unite and reject the current factional approach of the Leader.

In solidarity,

Howard Beckett, Jayne Taylor, Andi Fox, Pauline McCarthy, Mick Whelan, Ian Murray FBU, Andy Kerr, Yasmine Dar, Lara McNeill, Laura Pidcock, Mish Rahman, Gemma Bolton and Nadia Jama.[12]

Bindmans' letter

On 23 December 2020, Bindmans LLP wrote accusing Labour’s acting general secretary David Evans of exceeding his authority under the rules and in law in his assault on members’ rights to freedom of speech.

Solicitors Bindmans, acting on behalf of two suspended constituency party (CLP) officers and Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), set out Evans’s breaches in a 20-page legal letter,[13] including:

  • misapplication of Labour rules to justify his attempt to ban free speech
  • discriminating against the party’s left-wing Jews – and against other minorities
  • discriminating against Palestinians to protect the feelings of pro-Israel members
  • discriminating against Jews by acting as if there is only ‘one Jewish view’ – and acting as if he has the right to decide what is ‘acceptable for Jews to say’
  • banning free speech in a ‘blanket’ manner, without evidence to support his actions
  • unlawfully assuming that Labour has the right to dictate what local parties can discuss
  • wrongly treating human rights laws as if they ban anything someone might find offensive
  • acting disproportionately and outside his powers
  • misapplying and selectively applying Labour’s rules – including in the direct opposite effect of what they actually say
  • breaching Labour’s codes of conduct

Bindmans' letter concludes:

"We look forward to hearing from you within 14 days, that is, by 6 January 2021.[14] In the absence of a satisfactory response our clients will have no option but to consider all legal and other options available to them."[15]

As well as JVL, Bindmans is acting for Louise Regan, chair of Nottingham East CLP, and Dr Marion Roberts, vice-chair of Camberwell and Peckham CLP. Both officers were suspended by Evans after local members insisted on discussing and voting on motions relating to Keir Starmer’s withdrawal of the whip from the party’s former leader Jeremy Corbyn, which itself breaches the recent EHRC report’s ban on ‘political interference’ in disciplinary matters.[16]

On 5 February 2021, the Labour Party reinstated some fifty elected local party officers, under legal pressure from the wronged officials and the Unite union. The officers were suspended for allowing debate and votes on motions of solidarity with former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, in a clear breach of human rights laws governing freedom of speech and the party was expected to lose the case brought by those wrongfully suspended.

Instead, just before the judgment was handed down, the party emailed letters to those affected to tell them that they had been reinstated. However, in a transparent attempt to disguise the party’s climbdown the letters then concluded with a weasel-worded reminder of conduct – and a warning that daring to defy acting general secretary David Evans again would lead to more punishment.[17]

 

Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Bristol West CLP condemns suspension of CorbynArticle10 November 2020SKWAWKBOXLabour’s hierarchy has banned CLPs from debating or voting on Corbyn’s suspension or the EHRC report and some Regional Directors have blocked attempts to do so. It seems Bristol West members hold their democracy and their former party leader in too high a regard to toe the line.
Document:Former Labour leader honoured by Palestinian ForumArticle19 December 2021Steve WalkerJeremy Corbyn receives award for ‘remarkable efforts’ to support Palestinians against oppression
Document:UK Labour party teeters on brink of civil war over antisemitismArticle27 July 2020Jonathan CookLabour Party member Mark Howell is suing former General Secretary Iain McNicol for “breach of contract” and is demanding that those named in the leaked report be expelled from the party (see "Mark Howell for Justice": https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mark-howell-for-justice/).


References