April 30, 2020
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Jeremy Corbyn’s Senior Aide Seumas Milne Still On Labour Party Payroll
Jeremy Corbyn’s former senior aide Seumas Milne is still on the Labour Party payroll nearly four weeks after his boss stepped aside.
Milne was the Labour leader’s right-hand man for most of his five-year tenure, paid £104,000 a year as communications and strategy director.
Many MPs and others inside the party expected the former Guardian columnist to depart as soon as Keir Starmer was elected on April 4.
But HuffPost UK has learned that Milne is still employed by the party, with one insider revealing he was described in an internal document from the general secretary’s office as “executive director of strategy”.
It is understood that Milne had told colleagues before the handover to Starmer that he intended to remain for a brief transitional period.
But Starmer swiftly appointed his own director of communications after his election earlier this month, and several sources said his continued employment – reporting ultimately to general secretary Jennie Formby – still appeared unusual given his previous responsibilities.
Although he has played no part in media relations or communications since Starmer’s victory, he has been working on other parts of his Job within the Labour Party.
“I’m flabbergasted,” said one source. “Not since Earl Haig [the British First World War MILITARY chief] created the Haig Fund red poppy as a way of dealing with his abject failure as a general has there been a title as inappropriate as Seumas being kept on as executive director of strategy.”
Another said: “Strategy is so obviously something the new leader’s office should have responsibility for, it just seems bizarre he’d be doing that bit of his old job.”
Most staff who worked closely with Corbyn had their contracts tied explicitly to the tenure of his leadership, in line with previous practice.
Ed Miliband’s executive director for communications, Bob Roberts, and his executive director for policy, Torsten Bell, both had their contracts linked to their boss’s time in office even though they were employed in party posts.
But in 2018 Milne and other senior members of Corbyn’s office had their contract terms changed under new general secretary Formby.
The move ensured they became permanent members of staff working for the entire party rather than just the leader.
Milne and former Corbyn chief of staff Karie Murphy, who jointly helped shape the party’s 2019 campaign, have already been accused by some MPs of getting “rewards for failure” in not resigning immediately after the party’s historic defeat.
Labour has seen a rise in income thanks to its record membership levels, in part due to the leadership contest, but has faced a sharp drop in public funds thanks to its loss of swathes of seats in the general election.
One MP pointed out that the party was strapped for cash after the 2019 defeat, when “short money”, allocated to the official opposition, plunged following the loss of scores of Labour seats.
“This feels like a real slap in the face for all those lower paid staff who were laid off after we lost the election. George Orwell couldn’t have written it better – the commissars look after themselves.”
Within days of becoming leader, Starmer has had to deal with a fresh bout of factional infighting following the leaking of an internal report into anti-Semitism and the conduct of former staff critical of Corbyn.
The report revealed Milne had exported a 65,000-word WhatsApp chat group with former general secretary Iain McNicol and other senior officials “so that staff could investigate its contents”.
The leak prompted Corbyn supporters to demand suspensions of ex-staff, but also sparked threats of legal action over data and privacy breaches.
An independent probe ordered by Starmer will investigate not just its content but also the commissioning and writing of the report.
The Labour Party refused to comment on an internal staffing matter.Related... Richard Burgon Says Jeremy Corbyn Could 'Come Back' Labour Chiefs Face Backlash Over Plan To Reshape Party Before New Leader Elected Corbyn Chiefs In Line For Payoffs Despite Election Failure
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