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18 March 2015updated 08 Jun 2021 8:07am

Does Labour’s deputy leadership have a future?

By Patrick Maguire

Jon Lansman may have failed in his eve of conference bid to abolish Labour’s deputy leadership, but the Momentum chief has not resiled from his view that the party would be better of without Tom Watson’s old job. 

He tells my colleague George Eaton: “I think an elected general secretary would be more worth having than elected deputy leader… We’ve got a vacancy coming up, I wouldn’t advocate filling it. I would prefer to delete the post.” 

Lansman’s comments echo what Dave Ward, the general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, told me in an interview last week. Asked what qualities he would like to see in a deputy leadership candidate, Ward demurred and instead suggested he would like to see the role reviewed. 

“I think it’s time to look at the structure and the role,” he said. “You can’t do that in the middle of this election. My view would be before I started talking about individuals, it’s right to have a proper debate about what the role does.

“Labour should think about its structure, and where the power lies, and whether you need a deputy leader who’s an MP. That’s just a thought about the structure and getting that right, before we rush headlong into who can do the job.”

Ward’s union – like Lansman – has a seat on the party’s ruling national executive committee. Their comments reflect a quiet consensus on the left of the party that could yet complicate the leadership transition that will follow any general election defeat: that Labour’s internal structures must change. 

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