Labour recruits new party chief

The Labour party has advertised for a new general secretary to replace Peter Watt, who resigned last year over the third-party donor row.

The new chief must be able to meet the party’s long-term and immediate challenges, the job advertisement, posted on the Labour website, states.

Mr Watt’s replacement must also be able to “drive through organisational and cultural change in conjunction with the leadership of the party”.

Chris Lennie as been acting as general secretary since Mr Watt resigned on November 26th, after it emerged the Labour party had failed to tell the Electoral Commission the true source of more than £600,000 in donations.

North-west property developer David Abrahams donated the funds to the party through intermediaries in what he claimed was a bid to avoid publicity.

Mr Watt said he had not been aware of the full reporting obligations and Gordon Brown conceded the donations had been unlawful following his resignation.

The donations have now been placed in an untouchable, or ‘escrow’ account, with one of the first challenges facing the party being a fresh fundraising drive.

The job advertisement invites candidates to build on the party’s “most successful electoral period in modern history” and promises an “exciting and challenging executive position”.

Mr Watt’s successor will be responsible for leading the party staff, preparing Labour for elections, managing the relationships among and between all party stakeholders, ensuring sufficient resources are in place and the party complies with all relevant legislation and upholding the constitution and the values the party represents.

Labour are looking for a candidate with “outstanding” leadership qualities, a track record on cultural change, first-class communication skills and exceptional stakeholder management ability. They must also demonstrate financial and resource management experience at the highest level.

Funding has continued to trouble the Labour party, with Peter Hain this week confirming he has not reported a complete list of donors to his failed deputy leadership campaign to the Electoral Commission.

Furthermore, it has emerged the work and pensions secretary accepted a donation from the man behind sub-prime lender Picture Financial Services, which publishes what appears to be an endorsement from Mr Hain on its website.

Neville Allport, chief executive of Picture, donated £5,000 to Mr Hain’s leadership campaign two years after Mr Hain said the lender was “exactly the kind of energetic young company we need to build a world-class Wales”.

Asked in the Commons why Mr Hain appeared to be endorsing a sub-prime lender, Mr Brown said his Welsh secretary had been visiting a company in Wales and was praising the work it had done in creating local jobs.