Behind the scenes, Labour HQ is in tumult

More upheaval at Labour HQ. It is barely a month since the latest restructure saw general secretary Iain McNicol supplanted by the new campaigns director, Spencer Livermore, as manager of the party’s seven executive directors. Now comes the news that the director responsible for fundraising, John McCaffrey, is leaving after just over a year in job and that Chris Lennie, former assistant general secretary, will be returning as a “consultant” to work on external relations.

These latest changes might sound like back-room tinkering, but they are the outward manifestation of debilitating instability behind the scenes in Brewer’s Green. Two points are pertinent.

First, John McCaffrey’s departure could barely be more ill-timed. On the day that the latest electoral commission figures revealed Labour to be £12.3m in debt, the party lost its lead fundraiser.

John McCaffrey was only appointed in June 2012 and had already had a significant impact. Between September 2012 (the earliest it’s reasonable to expect McCaffrey to have made a difference) and September 2013, the party raised £3.5m from individuals, companies and limited liability partnerships. In comparison, for the year September 2011 to September 2012, it was £2.1m.

A 67% improvement in a year is hardly trivial and with the party so deep in debt, it is remarkable that the man who helped drive this growth in donations is on his way out.

John McCaffrey’s ongoing  financial importance was underlined in the small print announcing his departure, “John will continue to work with some key supporters for us as a consultant.” Or in other words, some donors won’t give unless McCaffrey is involved, so the party will have to keep paying him.

Second, while Chris Lennie is well regarded within the party as a fundraiser, his return will heap further pressure on Iain McNicol.

It’s no secret that Chris Lennie was Ed Miliband’s choice for general secretary over Iain McNicol. Following McNicol’s appointment, last year Ed Miliband tried to install businessman Charles Allen to chair the new party management board. This didn’t work out, but Miliband tried a different tack this Autumn, successfully bringing in Spencer Livermore as the campaigns director.

Now with the arrival of Chris Lennie, the general secretary’s position will become even more parlous. Deprived of management authority over the senior team, and with his closest rival for the job back at the top table, McNicol will be feeling the heat.

The continuing ructions at Brewer’s Green are sapping staff morale. One insider told Uncut,

“The politics at the top are poisnous. It’s worse than its been in years. The directors don’t trust each other and staffers are left to try make the best of it. Things need to get better quickly or we are going to suffer at the election.”

With further departures among the executive directors rumoured, it seems the staff team at Labour HQ are in for a rocky few months.

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8 Responses to “Behind the scenes, Labour HQ is in tumult”

  1. james says:

    If this is how you run a party – how on earth can you run a country – and with all that debt!

  2. Chris says:

    James. They can’t. That is why we are in such a mess now.

  3. Smell the glove says:

    To soon too deep err…

  4. southern voter says:

    There is enough brains in the labour party to make sure they will be ready for the general election.

  5. Fred says:

    “There is enough brains in the labour party to make sure they will be ready for the general election.”

    Perhaps you’d like to focus that intelligence on stopping the Labour party going bust. On stopping the endless mistakes such as Falkirk and on shutting up the unreconstructed pratts making fools of themselves on labour forums.

  6. Danny says:

    Is shutting up people who you don’t agree with a policy you’d entertain? Ironic really, Fred the anti-left endorsing an intrinsically Stalinist approach.

  7. John reid says:

    Danny ,there’s two side to the far left making idiotic claims on blogs,one they he the Tories portray Labour as loonies, and two from the SWP rape allegations where the criticise me and you must be a fascist brigade,to the labour lost the 83 election as it wasn’t left wing enough, lot these people were so delusional, that it helped Neil Kinnock or now those who tried to oust progress, as idiots,

  8. Danny says:

    I genuinely have not got a clue what you are saying.

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