Iain McNicol

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Person.png Lord McNicol   TwitterRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(politician, trade unionist)
LFI McNicol.jpg
Iain McNicol enamoured with Israel
Born17 August 1969
Alma materDundee Institute of Technology

Employment.png General Secretary of the Labour Party Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
19 July 2011 - 23 February 2018

Iain McNicol, Baron McNicol of West Kilbride,[1] former General Secretary of the Labour Party,[2] announced his resignation on 23 February 2018:

“It’s been an absolute honour and a privilege to serve as General Secretary of the Labour Party. I have now decided to move on to pursue new challenges in the service of the Labour Party and wider labour movement."

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said:

“I would like to personally thank Iain McNicol for his long and dedicated service to the Labour Party as general secretary. He has run our party's organisation at a time of great change, including a near tripling of the membership, two general elections and the EU referendum."[3]

In April 2020, following the leaking of the report entitled "The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014-2019" which implicated him in the undermining of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and working for Labour's defeat in the UK/2017 General Election, Lord McNicol stepped down from the party’s frontbench in the House of Lords pending an investigation.[4]

Friend of Israel

On a three-day visit in March 2017 organised by Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), Iain McNicol said he was “proud to represent the Labour Party in Israel,” adding: “I was deeply honoured to lay a wreath at Yad Vashem on behalf of the Labour Party, vowing never to forget the darkest moment in human history.” LFI director Jennifer Gerber said:

“I’m delighted to bring Iain McNicol to Israel to demonstrate more fully the complexities of the region. For supporters of Israel in the Labour Party, it was incredibly heartening for Iain to visit with us and re-affirm Labour’s commitment to a two-state solution.”[5]

Electoral Commission fine

In April 2015, a source at party headquarters revealed that Iain McNicol had been shut out of Labour's General Election campaign:

“He has been effectively sacked from the campaign” says a source. “Kicked out of HQ, sent out on the road every day touring marginal seats alone.”[6]

Having discovered that a total of 107 invoices were missing from the party’s 2015 General Election expenses return, the Electoral Commission fined the Labour Party £20,000 in October 2016:

“Mr McNicol failed, without reasonable excuse, to deliver to the Commission a campaign spending return which was a statement of all payments made by the Party in respect of its campaign for the 2015 UKPGE. In total 74 payments totalling £123,748 were missing from the Party’s 2015 UKPGE campaign spending return without a reasonable excuse.
"Further and in respect of the same return, Mr McNicol failed to deliver to the Commission all invoices and receipts for campaign payments of more than £200. Thirty three invoices and/or receipts were missing (in addition to those associated with the missing 74 payments), with a combined value of £34,392.”[7]

Party membership

On 7 July 2016, Iain McNicol tweeted:

There has been a bit of speculation around @UKLabour membership so actual figures: 129,726 have joined since EU Referendum. Total now 515,000.[8]

Personally liable

On 11 July 2016, Martin Howe QC emailed a letter to Iain McNicol stating that legal action would be taken if Jeremy Corbyn is left off the leadership ballot triggered by the challenge of Angela Eagle. Holding McNicol personally liable, Martin Howe wrote:

"We understand that you are considering holding tomorrow's vote in secret. There is no ground for subverting the democratic procedures of a political party in such a way or the principles of the Labour Party. Secret votes have no place in the robust and open free speech of a National Executive Committee."[9]

On 12 July 2016, the BBC reported that the NEC had ruled Corbyn will be automatically included on the ballot in Labour's leadership contest and its political editor Laura Kuenssberg said it was highly likely that the Labour Party itself would challenge the decision in the courts.[10] But it was the Jewish donor Michael Foster who sued Iain McNicol over the NEC ruling, with Jeremy Corbyn joining in as a defendant to the High Court case. In his three-page judgement on 28 July 2016, Mr Justice Foskett concluded that the decision of the NEC was correct and that Mr Corbyn was entitled to be a candidate in the forthcoming election without the need for nominations.[11] The Judge awarded both defendants their costs which means that Michael Foster must pay Corbyn's legal costs and the Labour Party's costs.[12]

Seasonal leaks

In December 2016, McNicol wrote to the staff at Labour HQ:

"Dear Colleague,
"Before we all escape the office for a well-deserved Xmas break, I wanted to email you all regarding recent leaks in the media which contain either sensitive or confidential Party information.
"I am very clear; no member of staff should pass on information which they think will be used by our opponents to oppose and damage the Party and its reputation. This damages the organisation and relationships which we are all trying to build and maintain.
"As laid down in our staff handbook: if a member of staff is found to have leaked confidential information either to a third party with the intent that this is passed on, or directly to a journalist, then disciplinary proceedings will be initiated.
"l have discussed this matter with the Labour Party Staff JTUC and they are fully supportive. If you have any concerns about the contents of this email, or would like to talk it through, please contact either Emilie Oldknow or Holly Snyman in HR who can assist.
"Kind regards, lain"

Abject apology

On 10 February 2017, McNicol was invited by Patrick Haseldine, Labour candidate at the 2017 Frinton by-election, to offer a fulsome and unreserved apology for having suspended him from the Labour Party without any justification whatsoever.[13]


On Twitter Iain McNicol says he is a black belt in karate, plays the bagpipes and is still trying to change the world.


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:EHRC avoids response to QC’s submission that Labour investigation breaches Equality ActArticle3 August 2019Jewish Voice for Labour's submission to the Equality and Human Rights Commission points out that many of the worst aspects took place under the tenure of former general secretary Iain McNicol, while significant improvements have been made under his successor Jennie Formby.
Document:How top Labour officials plotted to bring down Jeremy CorbynArticle16 April 2020Jonathan CookThe stench of cover-up is already in the air. Keir Starmer's Labour needs to come clean and admit that its most senior officials defrauded hundreds of thousands of party members, and millions more supporters, who voted for a fairer, kinder Britain.
Document:Jeremy Corbyn’s Opponents Burned the House Down to Stop Him - Now Keir Starmer Is King of the AshesArticle25 July 2020Daniel FinnBy sacking Rebecca Long-Bailey on a trumped-up pretext, Sir Keir Rodney Starmer has set the seal on a drastic shift to the right for the Labour Party. That shift comes just as the key arguments by Jeremy Corbyn’s opponents to justify a break with his left leadership have been falling apart in the face of overwhelming evidence.
Document:Labour & ‘anti-Semitism’: Real goal of establishment smear campaign is to deny socialists powerArticle23 April 2019Ken LivingstoneAfter three years of screaming headlines, the truth about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is finally revealed: just 0.08 percent of Labour’s half-a-million members have said or tweeted something anti-Semitic
Document:Labour Party exclusions: we need justice for the many not just for the fewArticle2 March 2018David RosenbergThe Labour Party's departing General Secretary Iain McNicol has done everything possible to delay or prevent the implementation of the Chakrabarti Inquiry Report which needs to be the central focus of our campaigning right now, if we are going to win justice for the many suspended and excluded by Labour, not just for the few.
Document:Labour councillor demands refund from party after leaked report exposed sabotage of CorbynArticle16 April 2020Lamiat SabinSarah-Jane McDonough's demand for a refund came after Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey claimed that attempts by the "Senior Management Team" to sabotage Labour’s chances in the UK/2017 General Election could have broken electoral law.
Document:Labour ‘gagging orders’ put in place by McNicol – and gave hundreds of £1000s to alliesArticle16 July 2019Shadow Cabinet learns ‘non-disclosure agreements’ on disaffected ex-staff appearing on Panorama and talking to media were authorised by former General Secretary Iain McNicol – and enriched staff (considered to be his anti-Corbyn allies) by hundreds of thousands of pounds
Document:Labour’s witch-hunt against Ken Livingstonearticle31 March 2017Jonathan CookLabour's kangaroo court trying to justify suspending Ken Livingstone for stating the fact that Hitler supported Zionism
Document:Spiteful misogynistic bullying of Diane Abbott and left-wing staff laid out in internal party reportArticle13 April 2020Lamiat SabinLabour General Secretary Iain McNicol, Executive Director for Elections Patrick Heneghan, and Mr McNicol’s office manager Tracey Allen mocked Diane Abbott and insinuated that she had faked illness towards the end of the 2017 General Election campaign.
Document:Starmer’s Mortal Wound On The Soul Of The Labour Partyblog post30 October 2020Rachael SwindonStarmer clearly believes he has now firmly established his own political identity and laid the foundations for the transformation of Labour’s electoral prospects – in the mould of Kinnock and Blair. It may be that he has simply destroyed his reputation for moral and intellectual integrity – and inflicted a mortal wound on the soul of his party.
Document:This largely pointless EHRC investigation has been welcomed by LabourArticle28 May 2019John Spannyard Indaworks"The upside of all this is that it may well lay to rest the continual Zionist refrain that Labour and Corbyn are an anti-Semitic party. What it is unlikely to do in my view is derail the Corbyn McDonnell project - it's just a bump in that particular road."
Document:UK Labour party teeters on brink of civil war over antisemitismArticle27 July 2020Jonathan CookLabour Party member Mark Howell is suing former General Secretary Iain McNicol for “breach of contract” and is demanding that those named in the leaked report be expelled from the party (see "Mark Howell for Justice": https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mark-howell-for-justice/).
File:Labour internal antisemitism report.pdfreportMarch 2020Labour PartyAn enormous (851 pages) report of an internal UK Labour Party investigation into alleged antisemitism in the Party between 2014 and 2019.
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