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Labour members 'fire warning shot' at Labour leadership as Evans clings to office

Parliamentary reporter @TrinderMatt

LABOUR members have “sent a warning shot” to the party leadership, Momentum says, after David Evans was ratified as general secretary by just 59 per cent of the vote. 

In an unprecedented move, a card vote was taken rather than a show of hands or acclamation. Unite and other left unions including CWU, Aslef and TSSA voted against. 

When appealing for delegates’ support, Mr Evans – accused of spearheading a purge of socialists from the party –  faced a numbers of hecklers.

Many shouts of “Jeremy Corbyn” were heard when he asked a rhetorical question about why members had first joined the party. 

After the result was declared, a Labour spokesperson said Mr Evans would get on with the job of “reshaping the party,” but Momentum slammed Mr Evans’s “factional approach [which] has left Labour in chaos and controversy.”

A spokesperson said: “This should serve as a warning shot to the leadership that they cannot continue so recklessly.

“The fact that a historically uncontested vote has been pushed this far is remarkable.”

The grassroots campaign group added the vote was “just the starting point for the growing coalition” opposed to leader Sir Keir Starmer’s plans to hand more power to MPs in future leadership elections. 

BFAWU president Ian Hodson said that a lack of staff meant a number of delegates had been denied the opportunity to vote.

“While Evans clings onto his job he should not see it as a ringing endorsement of his stewardship of the party, that has seen membership plummet, party workers being sacked and others facing an uncertain future due to the financial position of the party, which when he took over had millions in the bank.”

Earlier today, Labour’s national executive committee approved his plans – reportedly by 22 votes to 12 – to double the MP nomination threshold from 10 per cent to 20 per cent in party leadership contests.

Other changes, which include making it harder to deselect sitting MPs by raising the threshold to trigger a vote from a third of CLPs and affiliated groups to a simple majority, as well as cutting the number of policy motions debated at conference from 20 to 12, will be voted on tomorrow. 

Calling on delegates to reject the change, Labour NEC and Momentum member Mish Rahman of Momentum said: “Changing the threshold like this will destroy the right of ordinary people to shape the future of the party.

“If this rule change passes, Labour will be well on its way to becoming the party of the Westminster elite.

“If the 20 per cent threshold applied to the 2020 leadership election, it would have been a contest between Sir Keir Starmer QC and Sir Keir Starmer QC.”

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