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Simon Fletcher calls on Labour to recover spirit of Jeremy Corbyn's first campaign in farewell to staffers

The message, which has been sent to all staff, has been interpreted as a veiled critique of the leadership's recent direction. 

Simon Fletcher has called on Labour to keep "the promise" of Jeremy Corbyn's 2015 Labour leadership campaign in an email to all party staff: "an outward-facing mass movement dedicated to an updated, popular and modern vision of Labour’s values", in what one staffer who recieved the message described as a "veiled" rebuke to the recent direction of the party leadership. 

Fletcher was Corbyn's campaign manager in 2015, but was increasingly marginalised throughout 2016, with the 2016 campaign managed by Momentum and John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor. 

Saying that Jeremy Corbyn was elected because "Labour members, to whom the Labour party belongs, wanted a challenge to the status quo that so obviously fails the majority", Fletcher closed off by thanking staff and signalling his intention to make "a contribution in new ways from now on". 

The full message is below:

Dear colleagues,

I am writing to let you know that I have decided to move on to other challenges and opportunities and will be leaving working for the Labour Party today.

I joined Labour in 1988 and there can be no greater source of pride as a member than to work for the labour movement. Democratic socialist politics is about campaigning to win in order to deliver for the majority and this is what I have been privileged to work on.

As Ken Livingstone’s chief of staff I was part of an administration that applied its mandate to deliver. Massive investment in transport, the introduction of Oyster cards, successfully bidding to host the Olympics, congestion charging and better bus services, free bus travel for young people, the first civil partnerships register, holding the city together in the face of terrorism, record numbers of police, reduced crime, and neighbourhood policing in every ward.

I was first employed on a Labour party campaign in 2004, then working for the party from 2009 on the general election, onto the London Mayoral campaign from 2010-12, and then for Ed Miliband, before returning to work for the party with Jeremy in 2015.

In that time I have met and worked with so many brilliant Labour party staff, politicians and volunteers of all strands of opinion, and been inspired by the extraordinary selfless commitment that motivates so many Labour people to strive for a better society.

It’s my intention to contribute to that shared objective by making a contribution in new ways from now on.

Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader with such a massive mandate in 2015 because Labour members, to whom the Labour party belongs, wanted a challenge to the status quo that so obviously fails the majority. That election was not an isolated event in this country but part of a wider upheaval in the politics of the left.  I am proud to have been the campaign director of that leadership campaign, and to have served for Jeremy as his chief of staff and then his director of campaigns.

Like thousands of others I remain committed to the promise of the 2015 Labour leadership campaign: a promise that represents a belief in an outward-facing mass movement dedicated to an updated, popular and modern vision of Labour’s values - doing politics differently and better.

Big thanks to everyone reading this who I’ve been lucky enough to work with at the party over the years.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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Sooner or later, a British university is going to go bankrupt

Theresa May's anti-immigration policies will have a big impact - and no-one is talking about it. 

The most effective way to regenerate somewhere? Build a university there. Of all the bits of the public sector, they have the most beneficial local effects – they create, near-instantly, a constellation of jobs, both directly and indirectly.

Don’t forget that the housing crisis in England’s great cities is the jobs crisis everywhere else: universities not only attract students but create graduate employment, both through directly working for the university or servicing its students and staff.

In the United Kingdom, when you look at the renaissance of England’s cities from the 1990s to the present day, universities are often unnoticed and uncelebrated but they are always at the heart of the picture.

And crucial to their funding: the high fees of overseas students. Thanks to the dominance of Oxford and Cambridge in television and film, the wide spread of English around the world, and the soft power of the BBC, particularly the World Service,  an education at a British university is highly prized around of the world. Add to that the fact that higher education is something that Britain does well and the conditions for financially secure development of regional centres of growth and jobs – supposedly the tentpole of Theresa May’s agenda – are all in place.

But at the Home Office, May did more to stop the flow of foreign students into higher education in Britain than any other minister since the Second World War. Under May, that department did its utmost to reduce the number of overseas students, despite opposition both from BIS, then responsible for higher education, and the Treasury, then supremely powerful under the leadership of George Osborne.

That’s the hidden story in today’s Office of National Statistics figures showing a drop in the number of international students. Even small falls in the number of international students has big repercussions for student funding. Take the University of Hull – one in six students are international students. But remove their contribution in fees and the University’s finances would instantly go from surplus into deficit. At Imperial, international students make up a third of the student population – but contribute 56 per cent of student fee income.

Bluntly – if May continues to reduce student numbers, the end result is going to be a university going bust, with massive knock-on effects, not only for research enterprise but for the local economies of the surrounding area.

And that’s the trajectory under David Cameron, when the Home Office’s instincts faced strong countervailing pressure from a powerful Treasury and a department for Business, Innovation and Skills that for most of his premiership hosted a vocal Liberal Democrat who needed to be mollified. There’s every reason to believe that the Cameron-era trajectory will accelerate, rather than decline, now that May is at the Treasury, the new department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy doesn’t even have responsibility for higher education anymore. (That’s back at the Department for Education, where the Secretary of State, Justine Greening, is a May loyalist.)

We talk about the pressures in the NHS or in care, and those, too, are warning lights in the British state. But watch out too, for a university that needs to be bailed out before long. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.