The person who elected a Mayor and a Labour Leader

When I worked for Ed Miliband in 2010 after he had just been elected, I decided I wanted to get stuck into on the ground campaigning. I worked at the Oldham East & Saddleworth By-Election as Ed’s representative and again in Barnsley.  

After that it was suggested to me that I join the London Mayoral Election campaign team. The week before I started I got a text from someone I had heard of but never met. Simon Fletcher, Ken Livingstone’s Chief of Staff and Campaign Manager.

He suggested meeting at the Bree Louise in Euston in the days before I had developed an obsession with craft beer.  This was April 2011.

I turned up there and we sat outside. Immediately I knew that this man was one of the most talented operators I had ever met. As time went on I realized he was the most talented operator I had ever met. I was struck instantly by his dogged determination, strength of belief and impressive ability to motivate people.

In politics there are a lot of people who want to shout about how great they are. Sometimes I’ve been guilty of letting some positions I’ve been in go to my head. Not Simon.

Simon hates it whenever people write about him and avoids publicity as assiduously as Donald Trump uses Twitter to insult people. He avoids publicity so much the media reuse the same photo every time they write about him. 

When I tell people Simon’s stories like about helping to hold London together in 2005 after the London bombings or working with Ken to introduce the Oyster card, he blushes and changes the subject.

But this operator is ruthless. The man possesses incredible skill and determination to get what he wants. Many make the fatal mistake underestimating him.

I could tell hundreds of stories about Simon, many of which would have me excommunicated. But I remember him telling me in the summer of 2015 that he was going to run Jeremy’s campaign. I knew that he could make Jeremy winnable. After a week I knew he would make Jeremy win. 

In fact Simon Fletcher engineered an independent becoming Mayor of London, managed Ken’s return to Labour and helped oversee the incredible achievements of those 8 years. He then engineered Ken’s return as candidate and did far better than anyone expected in 2012. He then worked for Ed Miliband and engineered Jeremy Corbyn’s win as Labour leader. A true giant of our movement.

Simon’s departure from Jeremy’s office is a grievous blow to the Labour movement.

I wanted to write this piece not to talk about the politics or the internal workings of the party. I simply to pay tribute to a loyal friend, tireless campaigner and a true servant of our Labour Party.

Simon has dedicated his entire life to the pursuit of justice and the man remains as brilliant now as he did when I first met him on that cold night 6 years ago.

The Party’s loss, is the gain of whatever he does next. 

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