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17 September 2015updated 05 Oct 2023 8:38am

Jeremy Corbyn bolsters his team with former Livingstone and Johnson aide Neale Colman

The well-regarded City Hall veteran will be the Labour leader's director of policy and rebuttal. 

By George Eaton

After his fifth day in the job, Jeremy Corbyn’s team is beginning to take shape. Having appointed a shadow cabinet earlier this week, the Labour leader is due to announce a full shadow ministerial line-up later today. He has also appointed Neale Coleman, currently an adviser to Boris Johnson on Olympic and Paralympic legacy, as his director of policy and rebuttal. Coleman was formerly a senior adviser to Ken Livingstone in whose team he worked alongside Corbyn’s campaign director and chief of staff Simon Fletcher, and was co-chair of the Olympic Delivery Committee

It is a reflection of Coleman’s qualities that he was retained by Johnson despite his ties to his political nemesis. The mayor said: “Neale Coleman has served London with great distinction over many years and I’m sorry to see him go. His unswerving dedication to this city transcended party politics. First under Ken Livingstone and then as my Olympic advisor, Neale helped deliver the greatest Olympic and Paralympic Games ever.”

Before entering City Hall, Coleman’s roles included serving as Deputy Leader of the Westminster Council Labour Group from 1982-90. Contrary to some reports, he will not act as a (much-needed) spin doctor for Corbyn. The role of director of policy and rebuttal is distinct from the press operation, and was formerly held by Torsten Bell, now director of the Resolution Foundation. After recruiting two former Livingstone aides, sources are speculating whether Joy Johnson, the former mayor’s director of communications, will be hired. Following Coleman’s appointment, she tweeted:” #Jeremy4PM appointment of Neale Coleman as director of policy & rebuttal smart move. Not only formidable intellect he is genuinely nice.” Carmel Nolan, who was head of media for the Corbybn campaign, is said by sources to be in talks about transitioning to the leader’s office. The former journalist and spokeswoman for the Stop the War Coalition currently lives in the Wirral but may be persuaded to make the move to Westminster. 

Update:Joy Johnson tweets to tell me that she will not serve as Corbyn’s communications director as she is “happy with Unite”, where she is a political officer. 

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