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From left to left, a who’s who of Corbyn's comrades

Meet the people reshaping the Labour Party

24 September 2016

9:00 AM

24 September 2016

9:00 AM

Corbyn’s allies on the hard left are lining up to reform the Labour party. Some make him look like a moderate. Here are the most notable, from the least to the most radical…

Owen Jones, 32, is a Guardian columnist and former poster boy for the left. Jones suggested Corbyn could do more to appeal to the masses and, as a result, was one of the regime’s first casualties. Throughout the Labour leadership election, Jones has become increasingly vocal about Corbyn’s limitations as leader. He is now an unperson.

James Mills, 32, is head of communications for both John McDonnell and Corbyn’s leadership campaign. Mills is less of a purist than some of his comrades — he previously worked on Ed Balls’s leadership campaign. He has been described as McDonnell’s attack dog and was recently linked to the leaking of a list of Labour MPs accused of abusing Corbyn. While Mills later apologised ‘on behalf of a junior member of staff’, he is still an unpopular figure at Labour HQ.

James Schneider, 28, is the public face of Momentum, the far-left group that emerged from Corbyn’s leadership campaign and never disbanded. A smooth-talking Old Wykehamist, he spends a lot of time on television trying to refute claims that Momentum is nothing but a ‘rabble’. He grew up in a £7 million mansion, was president of the Liberal Democrat Society at Oxford University and has previously supported the Tories and voted Green. Despite his political promiscuity, Schneider insists that he is diehard Labour.


Jon Lansman, 59, is a former Bennite and the brains behind Momentum. He was considered pivotal in mobilising support for Corbyn, but lately his relationship with top Corbynites has been under strain. An atheist Jew, Lansman clashed with Ken Livingstone and Corbyn’s office over the party’s handling of complaints of anti-Semitism. There’s a profile of Lansman by Alex Wickham in this week’s Spectator Life.


James Forsyth and Nick Cohen discuss the Labour’s indestructibles on the Spectator podcast


Paul Mason, 56, was until recently economics editor of Channel 4 News. When he worked for Newsnight, colleagues used to mock Mason for taking Syriza seriously as a political party. He now seems to believe the Corbyn project is on a similar trajectory towards electoral triumph — and is tipped for a top job. A former member of the Trotskyist Workers’ Power group, Mason classes himself as a ‘radical social democrat’.

John McDonnell, 65, is the shadow chancellor and has been Corbyn’s right-hand man for 30 years. More Marxist than his old friend, he is viewed as his puppetmaster. While Corbyn obsesses about issues abroad, McDonnell focuses on domestic politics, particularly the economy. His steely determination has made him loathed within the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Andrew Murray, 58, is chief of staff at Unite and one of Corbyn’s oldest friends. He is tipped to become Labour’s general secretary, though he’ll have to join the party first. He is a former chair of the Stop the War Coalition (which has praised the ‘internationalism and solidarity’ of Isis). His daughter Laura, 27, is Corbyn’s political adviser.

Seumas Milne, 58, is the son of a BBC director-general, and penned a manifesto supporting Chairman Mao while at Winchester College. Currently on extended leave from the Guardian, Milne is Corbyn’s director of strategy and communications. Hacks complain that, on the rare occasions he deigns to speak to them, it’s to complain about pieces he hasn’t read or programmes he doesn’t watch. He is perhaps further to the left than anyone else in Corbyn’s team. Which is quite something.


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