Labour row as Jeremy Corbyn's top aide helps to stand in for party's general secretary

Posted On: 
26th April 2019

A row has broken out after it emerged Jeremy Corbyn's chief of staff will help to stand in for Labour's general secretary.

Karie Murphy with Jeremy Corbyn the day after the last general election.
PA Images

Karie Murphy's promotion comes a month after the current general secretary, Jennie Formby, announced she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

She is one of four Labour "executive directors" who will take on Ms Formby's day-to-day responsibilities on a rota basis while she is off work.

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PoliticsHome has learned that Ms Murphy will also help to lead on staffing issues during Ms Formby's absence.

The move immediately sparked a furious reaction from some Labour MPs.

One said: "This is a complete disaster. We are totally f****d."

Ms Murphy first hit the headlines in 2013 when she tried to become Labour's candidate in Falkirk after sitting MP Eric Joyce was kicked out of the party.

But that collapsed when the local party became embroiled amid allegations the Unite union had signed up dozens of local residents in a bid to swing the selection process in her favour.

The branch was suspended by Labour bosses while an investigation was carried out.

Unite and Ms Murphy were cleared of any wrongdoing, but then leader Ed Miliband used the row to force through a series of major changes to the party's rulebook.

Ironically, those reforms eventually led to Mr Corbyn's election as Labour leader in 2015 - and a year later, Ms Murphy became his office manager and ultimately chief of staff.

The decision to hand the controversial adviser more power over how Labour is run has re-opened deep splits within the party.

One former Labour frontbencher said: "“Tony Blair wouldn’t have had the audacity to try such a blatant power-grab as this even on the day after the 1997 election.

"Under Jeremy though, it’s leader-led democratic centralism, just without the democracy.”

Another former shadow minister said: "This is nepotism writ large to allow the person who started this whole travesty for the Labour movement by trying to be parachuted into Falkirk, to now lead it. Can the party sink any lower?"

A Labour spokesperson said: "We do not comment on staffing matters."

The row comes just a day after Labour bosses were criticised for appointing Laura Murray, a former aide to Mr Corbyn, head of the party's complaints unit.