Andrew Fisher, the influential policy adviser to the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn and the author of the Labour’s widely admired 2017 For The Many Not The Few manifesto, is standing down from his position, in the latest shock to hit the party’s conference in Brighton.
South Norwood resident Fisher sent a memo to Corbyn last weekend which might be categorised as expressing a desire “to spend more time with his family”, but which, according to reports in the Sunday papers, also made wide-ranging criticisms of the Labour leadership team.
Fisher wrote in his memo that some members of Corbyn’s team had a “lack of professionalism, competence and human decency”, and that they used a “blizzard of lies and excuses”. Some from Fisher’s home Constituency Labour Party might recognise that as equally accurate as a description of the local council administration of Tony Newman.
In a statement to broadcasters, Fisher did say that he would remain in post until after the likely autumn general election.
Fisher, who has contributed articles to this website in the past, is known to be close, personally and philosophically, to John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, and is refreshingly independently minded and had been, until recently, outspoken.
In 2015, he made clear his despair and contempt at the selection as a parliamentary candidate for Croydon South of the Blairite, the Hon Emily Benn.
The granddaughter of Corbyn’s political hero Tony Benn, the Hon Emily is “a Benn by name, not by politics”. In 2015, among her campaign “initiatives” in Croydon South was the staging of a musical soiree.
Fisher expressed his frustration in a single tweet, jokingly suggesting he would rather vote for the Class War candidate. Demonstrating either their lack of sense of humour, or spite, the Hon Emily’s chums used this tweet to try to get Fisher kicked out of the party. Without any self-awareness or irony, some of those very same Labour members have this weekend decried such acts of factionalism over moves to have Tom Watson removed as the party’s deputy leader.
Barely a year after he was reinstated in the party, Fisher was confirmed as Labour’s executive director of policy and was given a large share of the credit for the party’s surprise success in the 2017 general election which saw Theresa May lose her majority.
Neither of Croydon’s Labour MPs, Sarah Jones nor Steve Reed OBE, the former vice-chair of the Blairites’ Progress party-within-a-party, had made any comment on social media by the time of this report’s publication to express their regret at Fisher’s resignation nor to congratulate him on his time in the job.
In a statement issued last night, Fisher said, “Having worked on this project from when Jeremy first declared he would stand for the leadership, I have decided to resign after four years of which I feel immensely proud about what we have collectively achieved.
“The long hours, stresses and strains that inevitably come from working in this high-pressure environment mean I haven’t managed to balance my commitments to my wide and young son. So after four years, I’m now choosing to prioritise them.
“I will stay on for any autumn general election, but will be leaving by the end of the year.”
Fisher’s long farewell comes amid growing rumours that Corbyn, at 70, is himself considering retiring from the leadership after four years of constant attacks from the right and the media. Friday’s move to remove Watson as deputy leader is now being interpreted as an attempt by the party’s ruling National Executive Committee – NEC – to stop Watson automatically becoming the party’s interim leader in the event that Corbyn does step down.
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