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LABOUR’s leadership was accused of wasting an opportunity to unite the party yesterday by pushing for the appointment of David Evans as Labour’s new general secretary.
The national executive committee (NEC) chose Mr Evans, who worked for Labour under Tony Blair, for the role on Tuesday.
He is seen as close to leader Sir Keir Starmer. He succeeds Jennie Formby, an ally of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who stepped down last month after two years in the role.
Mr Evans beat five other shortlisted candidates, including his main rival Bryon Taylor, Labour’s former trade-union liaison officer, receiving 20 votes to Mr Taylor’s 16.
NEC member Rachel Garnham said that Mr Starmer and deputy leader Angela Rayner had wasted an opportunity to “prove their commitment to uniting our party”.
She said: “Instead, in the choice of general secretary so closely aligned to the right of the party, they have shown their pledge to end factionalism to be a sham.
“Any remaining illusions must now be shattered.”
Momentum splinter group Forward Momentum said the appointment was a “forceful reminder that the left needs to get organised” to protect “party democracy and the central role of unions, without which there would be no Labour Party.”
Mr Evans’s candidacy for the role had been criticised by some union general secretaries, including the Fire Brigades Union’s Matt Wrack, who said that he was “likely to be extremely divisive,” in the role.
And Bakers, Food & Allied Workers’ Union national president Ian Hodson said that Mr Evans was part of an era of Labour that had “contempt for trade unions, contempt for members and contempt for democracy.”
Mr Evans was Labour’s assistant general secretary from 1999 to 2001 and a regional secretary from 1995 to 1999. He is currently director of political-consultancy firm the Campaign Company.
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