GMB union condemns Labour bosses over claims ‘community organisers’ were success despite election drubbing
Written by: Kevin Schofield
28th January 2020
Labour bosses have been condemned by a major trade union following claims that the party’s “community organisers” had been a success despite the Tories’ landslide election win.
Labour suffered its worst election performance since 1935.
A document presented to a meeting of Labour’s National Executive Committee claimed the team of activists had prevented the party from falling to an even heavier defeat.
The Community Organising Unit was set up by senior Labour officials as a way of building grassroots support for the party.
Critics have claimed they were an expensive flop and undermined the existing system of regional office across the UK.
According to the NEC paper assessing the election – which saw Labour lose 60 seats – the swing in support to the Tories was smaller in areas where community organisers worked.
It also claimed that Labour’s one gain of the night, in Putney, was “directly attributable to the Community Organising Unit”.
The document also hailed an increase in “contact rates” – communication with individual voters – compared to the 2017 election, despite the overall slump in Labour support.
An official with the GMB, which alongside Unite represents the vast majority of Labour staff, has written to Labour general secretary claiming the paper is an indirect attack on their members.
The GMB official said: “This paper is clearly an open attack on all other sections of the wider field team in our nations and regions, Southside [Labour HQ] and Labour Central.
“The claiming of credit of the work of other hardworking staff is unacceptable and I know from conversations with colleagues is yet another blow to morale.”
The union official said the document contained “multiple inaccuracies” and should not have been presented to the NEC.
They called on Ms Formby to apologise and added: “I am incredibly upset and frustrated to have this conversation again. Our members, your staff, deserve better than this.”
But a Labour source said: “This overview of the community organising unit doesn’t make any criticisms whatsoever of party staff or of any other team.
“All Labour Party staff were repeatedly praised and thanked by Jennie Formby and the NEC for their hard work and dedication.”