Three more aides join the exodus from Jeremy Corbyn's office

Written by Kevin Schofield on 24 March 2017 in Diary
Diary

Would the last person to leave the leader's office...

It’s good to know that in these turbulent times, some things can be relied upon. Lovers of political intrigue will be pleased to learn that no fewer than three members of Jeremy Corbyn's team are heading for the exit in the next few weeks.

Head of stakeholder engagement Jayne Fisher, media spokesman Matt Zarb-Cousin and union liaison officer Nancy Platts are the latest to join what’s fast becoming an exodus from Team Corbyn.

Fisher only joined the Labour leader's team in January after a decade in charge of Sinn Fein's London office.

Zarb-Cousin is standing down less than a year after joining Corbyn's team to return to his former job with the Campaign For Fairer Gambling.

And Platts, who failed to win Brighton Kemptown for Labour in the 2015 general election, is quitting as the leader's trade union liaison manager.

Sources said Fisher and Zarb-Cousin were leaving because of "health reasons". They join a long list of senior staff members who have left the Labour leader's operation in recent months.

Highly-respected director of campaigns and planning, Simon Fletcher, resigned last month, as did his deputy, Jack Smith. Economic policy chief Mike Hatchett left earlier this month after just a year in the job to return to the civil service. Head of policy Neale Coleman and deputy chief of staff Anneliese Midgley both also resigned last year.

A Labour source told PoliticsHome: "I don't think it's much fun up there. People come in thinking they're going to get a seat at the top table, but quickly realise they're never really trusted. The junior staff are treated quite badly and live in a state of fear. It's a horrible mix. The churn of people is extraordinary. All the good people end up leaving in the end."

It has also emerged that David Prescott - son of former deputy prime minister John - has been removed as Corbyn's speechwriter barely three months after taking up the role.

Sources close to Corbyn said he "failed to find Jeremy's voice". Prescott will continue working for Corbyn as part of his media team, with specific responsibility for taking charge of shadow cabinet messaging. His speech-writing duties will be carried out by Seumas Milne, Corbyn's head of communications and strategy, and his policy adviser Andrew Fisher, while Labour search for a full-time replacement.

In an email to shadow cabinet members last night, Milne said: "David's main role is to liaise between the leader's office media team, you and your staff ... and to ensure media and communications are integrated across the different parts of the operation."

Meanwhile, a meeting of Labour's ruling NEC earlier this week heard that there are 28 members of staff in Corbyn's office, plus four vacancies. His predecessor, Ed Miliband, had 25 on his staff, although that increased to 28 at the time of the last general election.

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