Former Labour general secretary Iain McNicol given peerage by Jeremy Corbyn

Posted On: 
18th May 2018

A former Labour general secretary seen as a hate figure by many on the left wing of the party has been given a peerage by Jeremy Corbyn.

Iain McNicol stood down as Labour general secretary in February.
Credit: 
PA Images

Iain McNicol is one of three new Labour Lords set to be confirmed by the Government.

One of the others is thought to be activist Martha Osamor - mother of Shadow Cabinet member Kate Osamor.

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Speculation that Mr McNicol had accepted a peerage from the Labour leader began as soon as he quit as general secretary in February.

The veteran party official said he was stepping down to "pursue new challenges" - but his departure was seen as a key moment in the bitter struggle between the warring Labour factions.

Mr McNicol was accused of trying to block Jeremy Corbyn from taking part in his second leadership election and of purging left wing members to stop them taking part in the vote.

More recently, he has been accused by many of Mr Corbyn's supporters of failing to properly tackle the party's anti-Semitism problem in an attempt to undermine the leader.

One Labour MP told PoliticsHome: "If he's so useless and responsible for the anti-Semitism stuff, why are they rewarding him with a peerage?

"They've made him a lord to get him out of party HQ so they could instal Jennie Formby in his job. And Kate Osamor is on the NEC, so they've given her mum a peerage as well. It doesn't really smack of new politics."

Meanwhile, Theresa May is set to nominate around 10 new peers amid accusations that she is using this weekend's Royal wedding as a smokescreen.

The Prime Minister has previously said she supports calls for the number of lords to be reduced from around 800 to 600 through the retirement of existing peers and a reduction in the number of new appointees.

But Darren Hughes, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:  "This has now gone beyond a joke. Time and time again the Government talk about reducing the cost of politics. Yet at the same time they’re packing the upper house with former MPs and retired party hacks.  

"If Mrs May was serious about reducing the cost of politics, she would halt these appointments rather than providing yet more fuel for public concern about cronyism. It is an insult to voters.

"Furthermore, the timing of the announcement appears deeply cynical. At the beginning of the year the Prime Minister lost her nerve in the face of public opposition and delayed making the announcement. Now she is expected to try and hide it behind the euphoria of a Royal wedding.

"This kind of cynical politics is precisely the reason we need an elected second chamber."