Analysis comment

Analysis: Starmer appoints Comms Director who wrote for Tory mag and Murdoch, quit over 2017 surge – and appears in leaked report

Paul Ovenden plays minor role in conversations described in leaked Labour report under supposedly ‘independent’ investigation by Labour peers – and quit as staffer in 2017 when Labour did far better than expected

Paul Ovenden’s profile picture from the Times website

Keir Starmer has appointed former Labour HQ staffer Paul Ovenden as his director of communications.

Mr Ovenden, who has written critically of Labour for the conservative Spectator magazine and Rupert Murdoch’s Times, quit his party role in 2017 – by his own admission – because he didn’t want to be there after Labour did far better than centrists and the media had predicted in the general election.

And in the same article, he complains that ‘experienced and skilled people’ were ‘chased’ from their HQ jobs:

Rather than bringing together different parts of the party in order to build on the 2017 result, highly experienced and skilled people were chased out of Southside. I knew that I couldn’t hang around for the victory lap, and quietly resigned the job I loved. The seeds of Labour’s recent defeat were not sown on Thursday night. Rather, the way Labour reacted to 2017 both publicly and in private incubated it.

Many right-wing party HQ staff quit the party in disgust when their boss and cover Iain McNicol was replaced by Jennie Formby in 2018 – but the leaked Labour report shows just how some of those ‘experienced and skilled’ staff, including McNicol, were behaving in 2017.

And Paul Ovenden also makes an appearance in that report, albeit a minor one, in a conversation about a colleague who dared to make positive comments about then-party leader Jeremy Corbyn on social media – and the prospect of sacking her:

Sarah Brown 13:59: so did you just hear KS
Sarah Brown 13:59: saying a corbyn leadership will make it easier to recruit a new digital team
John Stolliday 13:59: No? Really???
Paul Ovenden 13:59: brilliant
John Stolliday 14:00: she must love corbyn
She is a green after all
Paul Ovenden 14:00: she does – I saw her on Facebook mounting a passionate defence of him.
John Stolliday 14:00: Find me screenshots & I’ll have her sacked for breaching staff code of conduct

Mr Ovenden is not the person in that conversation who threatens or jokes about sacking a staff member because being supportive of Corbyn ‘breach[es the] staff code of conduct’. However, he clearly thinks highly of them and appointing any actor in the leaked report’s WhatsApp conversations to a senior role before it is completed will worry many Labour members who already feel that the investigation into the content of the leaked report is merely going through the motions prior to a whitewash.

Especially one who admits he quit after Corbyn’s Labour defied expectations in the 2017 general election and described the main actors in the events of the leaked report in glowing terms – and has written for right-wing publications.

And even more especially when one of the most prominent characters in that report is said to still be Starmer’s favourite for the general secretary role.

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30 comments

  1. Death by a thousand cuts. First, we have a ” centrist, moderate”, Blairite appointees to the shadow cabinet. Next, the refusal to take action against those named in the leaked report, followed by his refusal to stand by Diane Abbot against the fabricated AS remarks and now this appointment. Let’s hope all the misguided members who voted for this scoundrel wake up!

      1. That was the consensus when Blair was in charge by many of the left. It’s only to late when you are dead.

    1. Despite having the benefit of seeing what was happening in Asia, then Italy, Cummings & johnson with hancock have inflicted the highest deaths from Covid-19 in ALL of EUROPE. The party Starmer supports have caused Covid-18 deaths HIGHER than Italy.

      Week ending 24th April, England + Wales 33,593 more deaths than average up to April 24 in England. I expect Scottish and Northern Ireland figures will push deaths to around 42,000. THOUSANDS of AVOIDABLE deaths, is the story of Dominic Cummings, johnson, hancock, duncan-smith and their cheer leaders jonathan ashworth & kier starmer TOOLING Night and Day for the creature WMD Bliar. That creature tools for any and every evil which pays by any means foul or fouler.

      1. today i was looking at a map showing concentrations of people with the virus and it looks very like similar to ethnic housing addresses but it didn’t include the Isle of Whites which must be useful for something I know not what. Maybe look busy and reassure ‘our people’.

  2. No TRUE Labour good nor ANY other good, can come from Kier Starmer. The dire Starmer in my opinion… while we are still free to have and express them… my opinion is that Starmer is a FALSE Labour, SELF-declared socialist hater, RIGHT WING CHEER LEADER, Julien Assange pursuer, saboteur collaborating, coup plotter, spineless, gutless, integrity free, lamentable, despicable, six faced, traitorous, repellent, abhorrent, friend of LIARS, friend of KILLERS of the most vulnerable, friend of SINISTER APP promoters, friend and devoted tool of the WARMONGER WMD TONY BLAIR the LIAR and PAID advisor to the world’s VILEST despots.

    The record and associates of Kier Starmer, is there for all to see. Should anyone anywhere have any evidence of any good with which Starmer is even extremely remotely or barely visible tenuously linked, then please do put me right. Until then all evidence, of which I am aware, indicates that Starmer is a concentrated wrong. Very vivid bad news. A full strength dubious jelly… Some MAY feel Starmer is a tosspot. Others may see him as a DULL tosspot. Many others may think that wether dull or shiny, Starmer is still distinctly a tosspot.
    No good will ever come of him.

  3. Everything I read suggests those who are staying in Labour and continuing the fight can only fail. Some of those remaining will be the ‘secret’ centrists we know about, obviously, but the genuine rearguard I respect.
    The future looks bleak for the left if one considers the party in isolation – the right appears to have recovered all the ground it lost to the “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” phenomenon, inside the party at least.
    Looking at the wider context the economic effects of Covid – and the reaction of the right to growing discontent – will be crucial. The UK and the US look on course to be the worst-performing governments on the planet. When recovery is everywhere but here, people might finally see the truth about the Tories – and sudden realisation they’ve been conned tends to make even churchgoers turn vindictive.
    It may be that the ‘stayers’ will be proved correct and that the left will inherit the party by default on the abject failure and surrender of the right – but I still think building a new left wing party is worthwhile – if nothing else its existence will make the Tories uneasy and fearful of every bad headline – Starmer instils fear in no-one.
    Not sure I’d want George Galloway as PM but as leader of a rabidly antagonistic opposition ‘taking to the streets’ I think he might be perfect.

    1. ” When recovery is everywhere but here, people might finally see the truth …”

      Wishful thinking. The UK is with Belgium, Italy, France and Spain in number of deaths per million – but the ‘recovery’ – i.e. the fairly normal receding of infection and deaths from a peak is already happening. The peak cumulative mortality level looks to be above 2018 and around that of the 1999/2000 ‘flu season (anybody remember that as something extraordinary?). Forget the selective BBC reporting of decontextualised figures and frighteners.

      Meanwhile – support for the Tories is at a significant high – just in time for them to get a further boost from the relaxation of control measures. None of the sort of criticisms of policy seen here show any evidence of impact. The groundwork for an economic haircut has already been done – with massive effects on pension funds, employment etc, and the compliant mindset of the public has been established for more economic masochism to take place.

      You’re right in thinking that radicalism has been screwed – despite all the varied blather about a new world order, and resurrecting Labour as a radical force is not on the immediate horizon. But a successful new party of the congenitally self-destructive ‘left’ in all its contradictory manifestations is even further out on the fringes of wishing upon a star..

      1. As a P.S : I note the top ghosty story today (courtesy the Groan) is

        “UK coronavirus death toll rises above 32,000 to highest in Europe”

        … is a typical example of stretching the truth. Don’t get me wrong – the UK has a relatively high death toll, but a quick look at the Worldometer figures shows that the statement is an exaggeration – particularly given the unreliability of Covid-19 attribution, and the need to look at the per million figure for a comparison, and the ‘all causes mortality’ figures historically.

        Such are the subtle daily distortions.

      2. You imply that the worst is over in terms of CV19 infections. You obviously dismiss the possibility of the Tories ditching testing and tracing as soon as the number of deaths reduces – and the possibility of their “relaxation of control measures” leading to a new peak, possibly larger than the last, given its broader starting base of infection.

        None of us knows a fucking thing for certain. Pretending you do makes you look like a troll – and a profoundly stupid one.
        And I don’t require anyone’s reassurance that I’m right, thanks all the same.
        We’ll just take that as read.

      3. David – you do seem to have lost it when you resort to that sort of ad hominem bullshit. Can’t you disagree without throwing an infantile paddy? Sorry if you’re just scared shitless and witless about this virus – but that’s your problem.

        For the record – of course I’m not ‘certain’ (actually – that’s the point I’m making concerning the fabrications) – but I make comments based on actually looking at available information and data and not just by sucking up the MSM/government interpretation like a zombie on a string. And I’m pissed off at the general lack of questioning that I see. I’d have thought that anyone pretending to a degree of radical politics might be wary about media ‘common sense facts’ narratives after the last couple of years – especially given the on-going consequences of this lockdown scenario on peoples’ lives.

        If you want to check out the comments about the progress of this virus, a reference is :

        https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/covid-19-death-data-in-england-update-4th-may/

    2. War will likely come first. Easiest way to distract people that they’re hungry and in the crap is having a war.

      Russia? China? Iran? All three? (Western leaders are dumb enough to pick three fights…)

      That Trump is in trouble for re-election doesn’t bode well either, as previous Presidents have shown wars increase their popularity. We’ll likely be all in with the yanks (Iraq etc)

      I hope I’m wrong. Stay safe all.

      1. …but if you’ve got a handy virusstory to wind up the populace, you don’t need a war. It’s cheaper this way – and easier.

      2. The virus is merely a precursor. Change is afoot and it’s going to be unpleasant for the masses.

        I mentioned Gates previously, and how he left Microsoft. M$ made a recent patent (Gates still has masses of stocks)

        “A sensor communicatively coupled to or comprised in the device of the user may sense body activity of the user. Body activity data may be generated based on the sensed body activity of the user. The cryptocurrency system communicatively coupled to the device of the user may verify if the body activity data satisfies one or more conditions set by the cryptocurrency system, and award cryptocurrency to the user whose body activity data is verified.”

        Want money? Be a good dog. And that includes vaccination and compulsory military service off the top of my head.

        We’re likely heading into some sort of resource war (could be stopping oil flow to increase the price, or for rare earth elements due to batteries etc) ISIS is back in Iraq causing trouble (Iraq wants the yanks gone), and thanks to the virus, huge gulfs have appeared in both the EU and NATO allies. The French have spoken about working closer with Russia in the last week.

        As someone wisely said “If we continue on our current path, we will likely reach the destination”

  4. Understand this , Starmer will have Oldknowe in as Gen Sec make no mistake and then the Party transformation to Tory is complete . Purge will follow with a vengeance and the party will lose the next 2 or 3 elections in a row , as quite rightly the voters will see no difference between Tory Tory and Labour Tory .Same shit just a slightly different colour .
    But then that is all the leadership /PLP/Gen Sec want , they would shit themselves if they actually won power and were responsible for running the country .They want an easy life , so imo staying put and fighting is futile , get on and assist the construction of a viable alternative for the left .Within Labour utilising Labours organisational structures , build momentum ( no not Lansmans ) /strengthen ans consolidate /recruit from within the membership and then breakout when the time is appropriate . Usurp and challenge key vulnerable Labour /Co-op Party MPs and of course Tory ones in the same category.
    It seems fairly obvious imo to me now that the Left will have no future in Starmers Party. We will have plenty of time to build and get this new organisation right , as each election cycle will result in fewer and fewer Labour MPs at each successive defeat .The voters either disengaging from the entire democratic process because of perceived lack of real choice or voting Tory as why bother with a lie called Labour .

  5. When does Twatson re-appear? I wonder if they’ll put him in charge of “Doing really nothing by whispering behind the leader’s back” or will that be too over-exerting?

  6. First thing to do is for former members to rejoin and every one of us go out and recruit another member
    Next who replaces Starmer in next 12 months, Ceterus Paribus
    Your a fucking anti semite and a racist
    I’m sorry you feel that way
    Never again
    The next leader needs to be utterly ruthless to clean out Cockwombles, then step back and handover to next generation
    After that we can go to our graves with the sort of erection a dog couldn’t chew

    1. And what’s your sure-fire solution – apart from retreating to a darkened room and shouting curses at hte void?

      1. Take my vote elsewhere. Your lib dims on the face of it appear more appealing as an opposition than slime’s labour.

        There’s your answer, now run along, quickly.

  7. …and I note that whilst the alleged ‘Left’ indulges itself in various irrelevant pastimes – mainly involving kicking the shit out of potential allies – that US-UK trade talks are starting (so I’m told).

    So let’s all clap the NHS whilst the real politics happens elsewhere and the nation bows to the Tory command – ?

  8. “Let’s get to work and repair this leaky ship from the inside of the hull” said the chief stoker of the Titanic

    1. Wasnt there a fire in the coal bunker that had been burning for weeks
      Would we have won in 2017 or 2019 if we did not have a cancer in the bowels of the party
      Time to get rid

  9. Looks like Strmer is deliberately employing anyone and everyone who has worked against the left wing cause in order to annoy those on the left enough to leave the party in disgust.

    Starmer is a flaccid vapid neo-lib who does not care about ordinary people, only about preserving the status quo. Stupid Starmer is too stupid to realise that we and the world have reached a Gramscian point in our history, where the old is dying but the new is yet to be born.

    This shit show is far from over. When the dust settles there will be consequences, and a price to pay. We will either be in a far right utopia, or with a resurgent left that will be unwilling to be beaten down. Tony Benn was right. Battles are won and lost, but the war is never over between left and right.

  10. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-52539092
    ‘…………Labour Party: Starmer moves to rein in shadow cabinet spending plans
    A leaked letter from Labour’s new shadow chief secretary to the Treasury reveals how Sir Keir Starmer is trying to stamp his authority on his top team.

    On the surface, relative calm.

    Sir Keir Starmer talks of a ‘”national consensus” on Covid-19 with the government – and he was elected Labour leader on a “unity” platform within his party.

    But look deeper – and he has already begun to change the party he leads.

    Already, he has secured the departure of Jennie Formby – appointed as the party’s most senior official under his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn.

    And he has installed Bridget Phillipson as shadow chief secretary to the Treasury…………….

  11. A unified message on CoVid-19 appears to be emerging from LP spokespeople that they are not in conflict with the government. Not trying to score political points. Well that’s good to know.

  12. An old mate of mine used to have the next allotment to Keir Starmer and he said he used to warn Starmer about overfeeding his chickens. He later told me he went to the alllotment one day but Mr Starner was not there. He asked another allotment holder where he was. He said “Keir Starner? On he’s four hens sick.”

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