Organisation review of new labour

in ‘White Papers’, Reports, Articles

On taking over as leader of the party and opposition, John Smith wanted an organisational review.  A confidante recommended Ed Straw for the task, a co-member of the Labour Finance & Industry Group, a participant in the 1987 Policy Review and long-term moderniser.  An initial analysis of the operation of the leader’s office expanded into a full review of the organisation and management of the party.  After John Smith’s death, when asked for the private reports his chief of staff said he had locked them in a cupboard and thrown away the key.  The new team were furnished with copies and they implemented most of the recommendations with much success.  These included eliminating ‘the Party wouldn’t wear it’, overcoming forces preventing or limiting change; establishing the ‘best possible chance’ principle; distinguishing between political and management processes particularly in the delivery of services from Walworth Road; moving the HQ back to Westminster; managing its finances; establishing objectives for the organisation of the party; creating a unitary organisation from its twin-headed predecessor; personnel changes; establishing the functions and the inter-relationship needed to win elections; redefining the role of the regional offices; restructuring of the NEC; development of talent at local and national levels; a shadow cabinet development programme; and harnessing backbench expertise.   The barrels, loaded and aimed permanently at the owner’s feet, became history and some world-class processes were put in their place.  But life moves on.  Opposition has become government.  The benchmark for comparison (the dysfunctional Conservative Party) has faded from memory.  The challenger is now the incumbent.  It is time again for a radical rethink.

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