Specialist Labour Activists Claim They Prevented 'Further Destruction' Of Party At Election

Leaked report by the party’s Community Organising Unit branded a "whitewash" by furious insiders.

A newly-formed team of specialist community activists prevented “further destruction of the party” despite its election drubbing, a report presented to Labour’s ruling body has claimed.

The document – seen by HuffPost UK on Tuesday – says the party’s Community Organising Unit (COU), set up in January 2018, “significantly outperform[ed]” more traditional canvassing methods.

It credits the COU, billed as an “empowering people” approach to boost the number of activists on the ground, with Labour’s win in Putney, as well as improving the party’s ‘contact rate’ (the percentage of people whose voting preference is known) with voters in the London constituency by more than 6,000%.

Produced by the unit itself for Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee, it also claims contact rates were significantly improved in seats across the country. Among those listed are Calder Valley, Southampton Itchen and Broxtowe – all of which Labour lost to the Tories.

The report states: “The data serves to prove that, even under the most adverse political circumstances, community organising held the line against even further destruction of our support base.”

The leaked report presented to Labour's NEC
The leaked report presented to Labour's NEC
HuffPost UK
HuffPost UK
HuffPost UK
HuffPost UK

Insiders dismissed it as a whitewash, “conveniently ignoring disastrous results” for Labour in traditional areas including Stoke, Walsall, Dudley and Blyth Valley – while one pointed out Glasgow South is listed as a Labour held seat, when it is in fact in the hands of the SNP.

“If you believe the nonsense in this report then I have got a bridge to sell you,” they told HuffPost UK.

“It contains no mention of the countless complaints made by candidates about their performance, but demonstrates clearly that they don’t understand statistics and will stop at nothing to try to save their own jobs.”

At the NEC meeting, the document was described as a “dodgy dossier” and “total bollocks” as it failed to provide the full picture of the heavily-criticised network, and it was “forensically torn apart”.

Labour’s former head of political strategy, Greg Cook, branded the document “the more worthless and disingenuous piece of electoral analysis I have ever seen”.

The COU, set up by senior strategists close to exiting leader Jeremy Corbyn, was intended to step up Labour’s presence in post-industrial towns and coastal communities, as well as build alliances beyond the party to help campaign on key local issues.

Party chair Ian Lavery, among those who masterminded the idea, claimed the unit’s mass meetings “bring energy to our movement in between elections, giving opportunities to everyone from trade unionists to business owners and faith groups to share their stories” and that the movement was “truly transforming” Labour.

In September 2018, several months after it was set up, the party was preparing to train 500 of its members in specific campaign skills during its conference, as Corbyn said it had to “gain marginal constituencies”.

A Labour source said of the report: “It was made clear this was intended as an overview ahead of a more detailed analysis, which will feed into a full review of all aspects of the election.”

Labour Party supporters listen as leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks at a rally in Bristol while on the general election campaign trail.
Labour Party supporters listen as leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks at a rally in Bristol while on the general election campaign trail.
Joe Giddens - PA Images via Getty Images

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