Labour faces revolt after consultants brought in to coach election candidates

Labour is facing a revolt among staff after it emerged the party’s general secretary is backing a political consultancy firm to coach general election candidates.

Unionised staff at Labour’s Brewer’s Green headquarters have fired off a four-page letter of complaint to Iain McNicol, the general secretary, about his involvement in Labour People – a new company set up by a 29-year-old brand consultant called Dennis Marcus.

The party officials have accused McNicol of failing to consult them about the role of the consultancy, whose aims they believe overlap with their own job descriptions.

Asked about the letter, which demands answers to 13 questions about McNicol’s involvement in Labour People, party spokesmen would only say that they do not comment on internal matters.

Staff appear to have gone to some lengths to track down the involvement of McNicol in the consultancy, saying they discovered a document on an office printer that discussed potential “sensitivities” within the party about the work of Labour People.

The letter, first uncovered by The Times, raises concerns that while Labour People offers a pro bono service to candidates “at the moment”, it could become a money-making venture.

Marcus, who set up the company in October, is a former intern at the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, and has also worked for a poverty project and in corporate communications. He told the Times McNicol stepped down two weeks ago as chairman of the Labour People advisory board.

Material from the Labour People consultancy claims to have the backing of Gina Miller, the philanthropist, David Offenbach, a Labour donor, and Stephen Kinnock, the son of former leader Neil Kinnock and a parliamentary candidate.

Powered by article was written by Rowena Mason, political correspondent, for The Guardian on Tuesday 30th December 2014 14.45 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010