Iain McNicol

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The Lord McNicol of West Kilbride
Official portrait of Lord McNicol of West Kilbride crop 3.jpg
Baron McNicol of West Kilbride in 2019
General Secretary of the Labour Party
In office
19 July 2011 – 20 March 2018
LeaderEd Miliband
Harriet Harman (Acting)
Jeremy Corbyn
Preceded byRay Collins
Succeeded byJennie Formby
Personal details
Born (1969-08-17) 17 August 1969 (age 50)
Political partyLabour
Alma materAbertay University

Iain Mackenzie McNicol, Baron McNicol of West Kilbride (born 17 August 1969) is a British Labour politician and trade unionist. From 2011 to 2018 he was General Secretary of the Labour Party, the most senior employee of the Labour Party.[1] Previously he was National Political Officer of the GMB Union, and has a long history of organising in both the Labour Party and the trade union movement.[2]

Political career[edit]

McNicol began his involvement in political organising as president of the Student Union at Dundee Institute of Technology in 1991.[3]

He then moved to the Labour Party, first in an elected role as National Campaigns and Membership Officer for Labour Students,[4] and then variously as an organiser and agent in south and east England from 1994 to 1997.[4][5][6]

Following the 1997 United Kingdom general election at which Labour returned to office, McNicol served as a research, organisation, and political officer with the GMB Union, and in 1998 he was appointed as a regional organiser for its Southern Region.[7] McNicol continued in that role until 2004, when he was promoted to National Political Officer. He served in that capacity through to 2011, coordinating the political strategy of the union and representing its members’ interests in both the public and private sector.[7][8]

On 19 July 2011, Labour’s National Executive Committee selected McNicol to become the party’s next General Secretary under leader Ed Miliband.[2]

McNicol's intention to stand down as General Secretary of the Labour Party was announced on 23 February 2018.[1] On 20 March 2018 he was succeeded by Jennie Formby.[9]

On 21 June 2018, he was created a life peer as Baron McNicol of West Kilbride, of West Kilbride in the County of Ayrshire.[10][11]

In May 2019 Jon Lansman the founder of Momentum writing in the LabourList blog accused McNicol and his team of delaying action on handling antisemitism cases while he was General Secretary, and allowing a backlog of cases to build up that would damage the party and Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.[12]

2016 Labour Party leadership election[edit]

In June and July 2016, the Financial Times reported that the office of the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn believed that McNicol tried to prevent Corbyn from attending a key National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, and was alleged to be complicit in trying to exclude Corbyn from entering the second leadership election. It reported that senior figures in the trade union movement were discussing replacement options for McNicol in his General Secretary role.[13][14]

A civil High Court legal challenge was brought by Labour donor and former parliamentary candidate Michael Foster, to contest the decision to allow Corbyn to be a candidate without having to secure any nominations from Labour MPs. The case went to court on 26 July 2016. McNicol was the first defendant on behalf of the members of the Labour Party. Corbyn applied to the court, and was accepted, to be a second defendant with his own legal team as Corbyn was "particularly affected and particularly interested in the proper construction of the rules" and that McNicol was "being expected to vigorously defend a position which he regarded as incorrect prior to the NEC decision".[14][15] The High Court ruled that the NEC's decision that Corbyn should automatically be on the ballot was a correct interpretation of the Labour Party Rule Book.[16][17]

An additional court case was brought against McNicol in August 2016 regarding the NEC's decision to disallow party members who had joined after 12 January 2016 from voting in the leadership election. The claimants won their case in the High Court, but this decision was overturned on appeal.[18] In late September, it was reported that a Labour party member was lodging a claim at the County Court in response to her suspension by the NEC and that it would cite McNicol as claimant.[19]

Personal life[edit]

McNicol is married and has a son and daughter.[citation needed] He holds a black belt in karate.[6] He attended Ardrossan Academy.


  1. ^ a b Stewart, Heather (23 February 2018). "Labour party general secretary stands down from position". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Iain McNicol named as new Labour general secretary". BBC. 19 July 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  3. ^ Daniel Boffey (9 July 2016). "Labour leader and MPs set on collision course in a battle for party's soul". The Observer. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  4. ^ a b Luke Akehurst (20 July 2011). "Labour 's new general secretary". Progress Online. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  5. ^ Iain McNicol (25 May 2012). "Changing to win". Progress Online. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  6. ^ a b Paul Waugh, Sam Macrory (27 September 2012). "Street Fighting Man". PoliticsHome. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  7. ^ a b Dina Rickman (26 July 2011). "Labour's New General Secretary: His Dramatic Win And Why He Is The Insurgency Candidate". Huffington Post. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  8. ^ Will Straw (19 July 2011). "Iain McNicol is the right man for the job". New Statesman. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  9. ^ PoliticsHome.com (20 March 2018). "Jennie Formby appointed Labour general secretary in huge boost for Jeremy Corbyn". Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  10. ^ Schofield, Kevin (18 May 2018). "Former Labour general secretary Iain McNicol given peerage by Jeremy Corbyn". PoliticsHome. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  11. ^ "No. 62337". The London Gazette. 27 June 2018. p. 11404.
  12. ^ "Jeremy Corbyn pushed for action on antisemitism – but was held back by bureaucracy". Labourlist. 14 May 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  13. ^ Jim Pickard (13 July 2016). "Labour's McNicol targeted over role in coup". Financial Times. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  14. ^ a b Ben Riley-Smith (25 July 2016). "Labour leadership contest: Legal documents reveal depth of split between Jeremy Corbyn and party 's general secretary". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  15. ^ Jessica Elgot (20 July 2016). "Jeremy Corbyn wins right to be defendant in leadership court case". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  16. ^ Walker, Peter; Syal, Rajeev; Mason, Rowena (28 July 2016). "Jeremy Corbyn fights off court challenge over Labour leadership ballot". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  17. ^ >Mr Justice Foskett (28 July 2016). Between: MICHAEL FOSTER and IAIN McNICOL (1) (sued on behalf of all other members of the Labour Party except the Claimant and the Second Defendant) and THE RT HON JEREMY CORBYN MP (2) (PDF) (Report). Royal Courts of Justice id=[2016] EWHC 1966 (QB) Case HQ16X02502. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  18. ^ BBC - "Labour leadership: Members drop voting legal challenge" 14 August 2016
  19. ^ "The latest twist in the Labour 'purge' is truly astonishing [IMAGES]". The Canary. 21 September 2016. Retrieved 23 September 2016.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Ray Collins
General Secretary of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Jennie Formby
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
The Lord McCrea of Magherafelt and Cookstown
Baron McNicol of West Kilbride
Followed by
The Lord Haselhurst