Labour descended into class war today amid claims that the party’s conference slogan of ‘people before privilege’ was actually drawn up by two Jeremy Corbyn aides who went to an elite public school.
The slogan is apparently the work of Seumas Milne, Mr Corbyn’s most senior adviser, and James Schneider, who leads his press operation.
Both men attended the exclusive Winchester College before then studying at Oxford University.
Their status as Wykehamists – the name given to pupils who attended Winchester College – has raised eyebrows in the past given their key roles in Mr Corbyn’s Labour Party which has long campaigned on a central message of ‘For The Many Not The Few’.
The suggestion in The Sunday Times that Mr Milne, with the help of Mr Schneider, selected the latest slogan reportedly prompted one Labour staffer to remark: ‘That proves irony is dead — two people with privilege came up with that.’
Jeremy Corbyn arrives with political aide Seumas Milne to record an interview with the BBC in Brighton this morning
Mr Milne, pictured at Labour conference in September 2017, is under fire after reportedly selecting the party’s new slogan of ‘people before privilege’
Mr Milne and James Schneider, pictured above, are key members of Jeremy Corbyn’s inner circle. They both attended Winchester College and Oxford University
The claims came after Mr Corbyn’s leadership was rocked as it emerged that one of his closest aides was quitting.
Andrew Fisher, head of policy and the author of Labour’s 2017 manifesto, is expected to step down by the end of the year and has reportedly warned that he does not believe Mr Corbyn can win the next election.
Mr Fisher delivered a scathing assessment of the ‘blizzard of lies and excuses’ emanating from Mr Corbyn’s office as he tendered his resignation.
He also criticised the Leader of the Opposition’s inner circle as lacking ‘professionalism, competence and human decency’.
Mr Fisher claimed that just one week out from Labour’s conference, the leadership had not managed to arrive at a central message despite spending ‘tens of thousands of pounds’ on focus groups and polling.
He painted a picture of a chaotic leader’s office in which speeches were pulled at the last minute and confidential documents were left out on the printer.
He is also though to have claimed that the party’s leadership was in the grip of a ‘class war’ – an apparent jibe aimed in the direction of Mr Milne and Mr Schneider.
Mr Corbyn has previously reportedly faced pressure to stage a clear out of his top aides with John McDonnell and Diane Abbott apparently having privately called for Mr Milne and Karie Murphy, the Labour leader’s gatekeeper, to be replaced.
One source in the leader’s office told The Sunday Times that Mr Milne ‘is the problem’ as they bemoaned the former Guardian journalist’s influence over the direction of the party.
Another source said that if Mr Milne remained in post Labour would not win the next election with Mr McDonnell apparently ‘completely furious’ with him.
Mr Milne plays a central role in agreeing Labour’s messaging and one source claimed he had a ‘hissy fit’ when he returned from his summer holiday because of the work that had been done in his absence.
He then allegedly proceeded to cause ‘no end of mayhem’ as he and Mr Schneider ‘started doing their own messaging’ ahead of the party conference.
The extraordinary attack from Mr Fisher came amid claims his allies have begun triggering succession plans after deciding they are ‘past the high-water mark of Corbynism’.
The veteran left-winger is facing a stormy conference in Brighton as activists rail at his muddled stance on Brexit.
Meanwhile, a new poll published today found the Tories have opened up a 15-point lead over Labour and two-thirds of the public disapprove of Mr Corbyn’s Brexit stance.
In a memo seen by The Sunday Times and sent last week, Mr Fisher denounced Mr Corbyn’s team for their ‘lack of professionalism, competence and human decency.’
Labour’s new ‘people before privilege’ slogan is displayed prominently at the conference event in Brighton this week
Andrew Fisher (pictured), head of policy and the author of the party’s last manifesto, is said to have walked out last Saturday
His resignation is a significant blow to 70-year-old Mr Corbyn, who, it is claimed, may also stand down because he feels under ‘incredible pressure’.
A Labour source said: ‘We don’t comment on staffing matters.’
It came amid an ongoing Labour storm after a failed bid by one of Mr Corbyn’s allies to oust deputy Labour leader Tom Watson.
Mr Corbyn has tried to defuse the row by saying he would like to see two deputy leaders as he launched a review into the matter.
The Labour leader said one of the deputies should be a woman to reflect the ‘diversity within our society’.