Seamus Milne — Stalinist, Brexit-supporter, and anti-democratic political manipulator — has departed as Labour’s director of communications. His replacement in the £100,000 a year job is very different, but not an improvement.
Keir Starmer’s new appointment Ben Nunn is a conservative “political professional” with an extensive history of organising full-time on the right-wing of the Labour Party. His career outside politics has been as a lobbyist for the private health industry.
Nunn, who voted for Liz Kendall for leader in 2015, was deputy director of communications for Owen Smith’s Labour 2016 leadership campaign. Before that he worked for right-wing Labour MP Heidi Alexander — the first shadow cabinet member to resign in the “chicken coup” and a central person in Smith’s campaign.
Until she resigned to overthrow Corbyn, Alexander was Shadow Health Secretary. Before he worked for her, Nunn’s job was with private healthcare lobbying firm Incisive Health. Incisive’s founders included a former special adviser to Tory health secretary Andrew Lansley. It was founded with an explicit mission of promoting marketisation and privatisation in the health service.
After Smith’s defeat Nunn returned to the company as associate director.
Starmer has also appointed noted right-wingers to investigate the leaked report into how full-time party staff dealt with antisemitism and undermined the party’s campaigning and election work.
Alongside barrister Martin Forde are three Labour members of the House of Lords.
Former Newport council leader Debbie Wilcox has publicly and recently attacked the Corbyn leadership from the right, including by retweeting anti-Corbyn comments by Iain McNicol — one of the obvious targets of any meaningful investigation.
Larry Whitty was general secretary of the party 1985-94, oversaw the expulsion of Militant and Socialist Organiser supporters, and helped Neil Kinnock carry out his attacks on party democracy and rightward shifts in policy.
Ruth Lister, an academic and anti-poverty campaigner, is a more middle-of-the-road figure. She is chair of the (extremely) soft left group Compass.
Things do not bode well for serious action to deal with the problems the report exposed.