Owen Smith snaps up former Corbyn policy chief for leadership bid


Owen Smith

Owen Smith has confirmed a raft of senior recruits – including several soft-left allies – who he hopes will help propel him to the top of the Labour Party.

In a coup for Smith, he has signed up as chief adviser Neale Coleman, who previously served as head of policy for Jeremy Corbyn. Coleman also worked for Ken Livingstone during his tenure as Mayor of London, and was kept on by Boris Johnson before being snapped up by Corbyn upon his election as Labour leader last year.

Coleman left his position with the leader in January after a series of reported backroom disputes. At the time, Corbyn’s office said Coleman was in discussions with the Labour leader about taking up an advisory role. However, the new role never transpired.

Smith has appointed Kate Green, former shadow minister for Women and Equalities, as his campaign chair, with fellow former shadow Cabinet colleagues Heidi Alexander and Lisa Nandy acting as co-chairs. The position of trade union adviser has been given to Jo Stevens, who worked for Thompsons, the trade union solicitors, before entering Parliament.

The positions confirmed today are:

  • Chair – Kate Green MP (overall campaign management);
  • Co-chairs – Heidi Alexander MP and Lisa Nandy MP (Strategic campaign direction);
  • Jo Stevens MP – trade union adviser (liaison with trade unions, policy development);
  • Neale Coleman – chief policy adviser – (strategic lead on policy development);
  • John Lehal – chief of operations – (operations oversight, no policy development).

Announcing the team, Smith said: “I’m proud to have assembled a strong, radical senior team to help me flesh out a vision for Labour’s future. I served loyally in the Shadow Cabinet alongside Kate, Heidi and Lisa, and witnessed first hand that they are some of the finest members of the new generation of leaders in the Labour Party.

“I’m also delighted that Neale Coleman has agreed to come on board as my chief policy adviser. He has a wealth of expertise, including working across major projects in City Hall, where he helped deliver the 2012 Olympics.”

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