Jeremy Corbyn has a weird present for outgoing party chief

Written by James Millar on 28 March 2018 in Diary

Iain McNicol's leaving do was a who's who of Labour moderates as he hands over to new General Secretary Jennie Formby

It was always going to be an awkward farewell as Jeremy Corbyn led tributes to outgoing Labour general secretary Iain McNicol.

McNicol endured two years of pressure from left wingers and the Momentum movement as he was seen as undermining the Corbyn project. He was accused of trying to keep Corbyn off the ballot when the Labour leader faced a challenge in 2016 and some also held him responsible for Labour failing to make even bigger gains at last year's general election. It was reported that senior Corbyn aide Karie Murphy declared "I've got him" when McNicol announced last month that he would quit.

Corbyn apparently presented McNicol with two packets of speciality coffee as a leaving gift. And he was unlikely to be perturbed by the fact former leadership rival Yvette Cooper received a far more rapturous reception for her speech in tribute to the outgoing party chief.

McNicol's surprise departure after seven years at the helm led to former Unite union official Jennie Formby taking over. That appointment is seen by many as the last part of the puzzle giving Corbyn's hard left faction control of the party machine.

The do was attended by big names from the party's 'moderate' wing including Rachel Reeves, Wes Streeting and Gloria de Piero and arch Blairite former MP Jim Murphy and special advisor turned TV presenter Ayesha Hazarika were also spotted.

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