Labour mocked for asking staff to use ‘agile ceremonies’ in plan to axe 90 jobs

Corporate jargon compared to Tory spin doctor from The Thick of It

Adam Forrest
Tuesday 17 August 2021 21:25 BST
Sir Keir Starmer in profile

Labour chiefs have been mocked for using impenetrable management jargon while revealing plans for a major restructure, as Sir Keir Starmer’s party looks to cut around 90 jobs.

Labour’s general secretary David Evans unveiled the grand plan to staff on Tuesday, with around a quarter of those on the payroll facing the axe.

Employees were asked to start working in an “agile” and “multi-disciplinary” way as the party attempts to repair its shattered finances following legal pay-outs and cuts in contributions from unions.

Staff were also told to “adopt a product-mindset using agile ceremonies, be empowered to make decisions and encouraged to focus on rapid prototyping, deployment and iteration”.

Online commentators suggested the torturous corporate language resembled Stewart Pearson – the Tory spin doctor from political satire The Thick of It.

South London Labour councillor Richard Livingstone tweeted: “I mean, what the **** are ‘agile ceremonies’? Has a certain The Wicker Man energy to it?”

“Agile ceremonies” is a management term for organising a series of flexible meetings, while “rapid prototyping” is a computer aided design concept referring to the fast part of the development process.

Criticising the “jargon-filled” presentation, a Labour employee told the PoliticsHome website: “David Evans keeps talking about the party being closer to the ground but he never says what that actually means, or how we’ll do it with so few staff and fewer people in the regions.”

Labour staff were told last month of the planned job cuts, which the party said was “not an easy decision” but was required to get “fighting fit for upcoming campaigns and the next general election”.

On Tuesday Mr Evans told staff that the key driver of the restructure was the need to achieve a “substantial cost reduction”.

The party is hoping to attract enough volunteers for redundancy – rather than enforce a compulsory process – after agreeing to four weeks’ pay for every year served rather than three, according to the Labour List website.

Mr Evans is also said to have told staff Labour would have to become more an “voter-centric”, rather than “telling voters what they should think or do or asking questions on our terms”.

Last month the party was accused of using underhanded “fire and rehire” practices condemned by Sir Keir a few months previously.

Despite planned lay-offs, The Independent revealed that the party had posted on a recruitment website offering potential workers a temporary, six-month contract for work done from home.

A Labour source said: “This is unrelated to the announcement about the voluntary severance scheme. It was agreed by the National Executive Committee (NEC) several weeks ago as a necessary and temporary measure to help us clear the backlog of complaints as quickly as possible.”

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