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18 September 2015

Who’s who in Team Corbyn?

The Labour leader's inner circle. 

By New Statesman

At the end of his first week as Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn has completed the key appointments to his office. Here’s who’s who in the team.

Simon Fletcher, Chief of staff

The man who masterminded Corbyn’s campaign has taken on the role he held under Ken Livingstone for eight years at City Hall. Fletcher (“Fletch”) is admired across Labour for his intellect and organisational skills, including by those who do not share his left-wing politics. In 2000, after Tony Blair ensured that Livingstone was not selected as Labour’s candidate for mayor of London, Fletcher took him to victory as an independent. 

The former mayor’s memoirs record his friend getting the highest First from City of London Poly in its history (he led a student occupation there) and, like Ed Miliband, he later worked on Tony Benn’s archives. In 2009, Fletcher denounced Gordon Brown for “pandering to the BNP” over allocation of social housing. More recently, he worked as Miliband’s trade union liaison officer from 2013 onwards. He is credited with renegotiating the unions’ relationship with Labour after that year’s Falkirk selection row.

Anneliese Midgley, Deputy chief of staff

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After working on Corbyn’s campaign, Midgley has joined the team as Fletcher’s deputy. Another former Livingstone staffer, she served as the former mayor’s head of events. She later worked as head of political strategy at Unite, the UK’s largest trade union, which endorsed Corbyn for the leadership. 

Neale Coleman, Director of policy and rebuttal

The third former City Haller in Corbyn’s office, Coleman was the only member of Livingstone’s team to serve under Boris Johnson. After co-chairing the Olympic Delivery Committee, and becoming a CBE in 2012, he was retained as an adviser on Olympic and Paralympic legacy by the mayor.

Responding to the departure of the Oxford-educated classicist, Johnson 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.” Livingstone praised him as a brilliant ideas man who will bring well-thought-out, intelligent policies to the table.” Before entering City Hall, Coleman’s roles included serving as Deputy Leader of the Westminster Council Labour Group from 1982-90. He takes on the position previously held by Torsten Bell, now director of the Resolution Foundation. 

Kevin Slocombe, Press spokesperson

After Corbyn’s troubled first days, many wrote of the Labour leader’s urgent need for a spin doctor. The man filling the role is Kevin Slocombe, previously head of communications at the CWU. On his now-deleted Twitter account, he wrote: “Media attacks on Corbyn are so predictable, shallow and so out of date. Politics may be changing, jeditorial [sic] policy isn’t.” 

Andrew Fisher, Political adviser 

The economist and former trade union official has long been a key player on the Labour left. He co-founded the Left Economics Advisory Panel in 2006, chaired by new shadow chancellor John McDonnell, and wrote The Failed Experiment: And how to build an economy that works, a title praised last year by Corbyn and McDonnell.  

Steph Driver, Head of events

The highly-regarded Driver has made the transition from Harriet Harman’s team. She previously worked as head of events to Ed Balls during his time as shadow chancellor and as Labour’s south west regional press officer. 

Gavin Sibthorpe, Events officer

Formerly campaigns officer at UnionsTogether and policy officer of London Young Labour, Sibthrope will also work on events. 

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