An exclusive investigation by The Canary can reveal that the current Labour ‘coup’ being instigated against Jeremy Corbyn appears to have been orchestrated by a PR company where Tony Blair’s arch spin-doctor, Alastair Campbell, is a senior advisor.
He sits alongside several other figures, all of whom have direct links to the centre-right of the Labour party, and the Fabians at Portland Communications.
Portland Communications is a political consultancy and public relations agency set up in 2001 by Tim Allan, a former adviser to Tony Blair and director of communications at BSkyB.
The firm works globally on campaigns for numerous companies, institutions and governments, and describes its activities by saying:
we help our clients find their way through this new faster, noisier and contested landscape. We design and deliver communications strategies – and are trusted by some of the highest profile organisations, governments and individuals in the world.
Its corporate clients include Barclays, Morrisons and Nestle, and it say their team is made up of “former senior advisors from the highest level of British government and politics, the EU, the UN and the World Economic Forum”.
However, Portland came to The Canary’s attention after an incident surrounding abuse being thrown at Jeremy Corbyn, while he supported Pride in London on 25 June.
it’s your fault! When are you resigning? It’s your fault! I had a Polish friend in tears because you couldn’t get out the vote in Wales, the north and the Midlands. You need to resign. […] Take control Jeremy and resign […] stop using the gay movement as a shield to protect your weak leadership.
The video was quickly up on the BBC website, which also included an interview with Mauchline afterwards, explaining his reasons for the verbal diatribe he gave to Corbyn. The piece of footage is accredited by the BBC as being “Courtesy of Tom Mauchline”.
Mauchline is a Senior Account Manager for Portland Communication, previously working for the campaign group 38 Degrees. But oddly, Mauchline appears to not be the only ‘Labour activist’ working for Portland. In fact, the majority of its staff have direct links to the party.
Stephen “Steve” Race says in his Twitter bio that he does “a lot of #LabourDoorStep”. Race also works for Blue Rubicon (consultants who often provide commentary on the Labour party) as a partner, and was a senior researcher for Labour MP Ben Bradshaw.
Gregor Poynton describes himself as “Formerly @ScottishLabour @UKLabour @bsd […] Quite a bit of digital, politics”. Poynton is head of content and brand at Portland.
Kevin McKeever‘s Twitter header is an image of Labour pin badges. He also works for Portland, as a partner.
The three men all share two things in common. They are all acquaintances of Tom Mauchline, but furthermore two of them stood as PPC’s in the 2015 general election for Labour. Poynton hoped to be nominated, but was eventually caught up in the Falkirk fiasco. None of them were elected, and none of them supported Corbyn in the leadership contest. McKeever supported Andy Burnham, Steve Race backed Liz Kendall and Poynton (who incidentally is married to former Labour MP Gemma Doyle) appeared to back Kendall as well, as he is a supporter of the centre-right Labour faction “Progress”.
Their Twitter timelines show they are all actively promoting the campaign against Corbyn. Retweeting each other, sharing the same video footage of Alastair Campbell – with McKeever writing in his local newspaper and even creating a short film of the Momentum rally at Parliament Square on Monday:
Went down to Parliament Sq to see the rally for myself. I saw a protest dominated by SWP, SA and others outside Lab pic.twitter.com/rJTgbLmSQu
— Kevin McKeever (@kevinmckeever) June 27, 2016
But this is just the tip of the iceberg surrounding Portland Communications and its links to the Labour party.
Steve Morris, managing partner was formerly head of communications for both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown; Mark Flanagan, senior partner, was head of digital communications for Brown; Justin Kerr-Stevens, partner – former communications advisor for both Blair and Brown; Rebecca Gwilliam, director – former special advisor (SpAd) for both Blair and Brown.