Labour HQ hit by staff exodus before Jennie Formby takes over as general secretary

Posted On: 
19th March 2018

Senior Labour staff are resigning en masse ahead of Jennie Formby's appointment as the party's new general secretary.

Jennie Formby with Jeremy Corbyn.
Credit: 
PA Images

In a dramatic development, around half a dozen party experienced officials are announcing their departures throughout today.

John Stolliday, Labour's head of governance and legal, told colleagues that he would be leaving in the summer after 14 years working for the party.

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Director of policy and research, Simon Jackson, is also leaving, as is senior communications officer Neil Fleming.

Dan Simpson, director of the London Labour party and acting secretary to the parliamentary Labour party, is resigning, along with Tracey Allen and Julie Lawrence, who work in the general secretary's office.

The co-ordinated walkout follows Iain McNicol's decision to resign as Labour general secretary last month.

He was then followed by his number two, Emilie Oldknow, who announced last week that she was leaving in the summer.

One source told PoliticsHome: "This is a major exodus of talent - a result of the leadership placing dogma and ideology over ability and commitment."

Mr Stolliday is a highly-respected figure in the party, and was responsible for the compliance unit with dealt with disciplinary issues.

In an email he said: "I have been honoured to work under four party leaders - including two Prime Ministers - as well as Ed and Jeremy in opposition, and also Harriet as interim leader who has done so much for our Party and movement across the years.

"I want to thank you all for the support, kindness, patience and friendship you have shown to me over so many years and leave knowing that the Labour party is well set to advance at the next general election, whenever that happens."

Labour's ruling national executive committee will confirm Jennie Formby as Mr McNicol's successor at a meeting tomorrow.

The left-wing Unite official is a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, but is also seen as a highly-divisive figure.

Her first task will be to restore morale at Labour's central London HQ, while launching a recruitment drive to replace those who are leaving.

However, senior party sources attempted to play down the significance of the departures.

They pointed out that only six people out of a total Labour workforce of 420 were leaving, and insisted it was normal for there to be staff churn following a general election and before a new general secretary takes up their job.