Sir Keir Starmer’s powerful new aide Deborah Mattinson is accused of being ‘sleeper agent’ who used government contracts to get sensitive information about the Tories
- They fear Deborah Mattinson will be able to pass on inside knowledge to Starmer
- She worked for Whitehall before being appointed Starmer’s director of strategy
- The pollster was one of the first ‘new signings’ by Sir Keir after by-election loss
A powerful new aide to Sir Keir Starmer has been accused by Ministers of being a ‘sleeper agent’ who used her Government contracts to gain access to sensitive information about the Tories.
They fear polling expert Deborah Mattinson, who worked for Whitehall before being appointed last month as the Labour leader’s director of strategy, will be able to pass on inside knowledge to Sir Keir’s team.
One Tory Minister said last night: ‘Mattinson’s lot have been involved in road-testing all sorts of policies, so she is in a good position to know exactly what we are up to.
‘Her company gets a lot of work because they tender low on costs but it has effectively made her a sleeper agent for Starmer.’
A powerful new aide to Sir Keir Starmer has been accused by Ministers of being a ‘sleeper agent’ who used her Government contracts to gain access to sensitive information about the Tories. Pictured: Deborah Mattinson
The high-powered pollster was one of the first ‘new signings’ by Sir Keir following Labour’s catastrophic defeat in the by-election in Hartlepool where the Tories stormed to victory.
A former strategist for Labour, she advised past leaders including Tony Blair, John Smith and Neil Kinnock before becoming chief pollster to Gordon Brown.
Following Labour’s disastrous 2019 General Election result, she wrote an analysis of how the party lost its Northern and Midlands heartlands, entitled Beyond the Red Wall: Why Labour Lost, How the Conservatives Won and What Will Happen Next.
In 2010, she co-founded the Britain Thinks consultancy but is due to leave to take up her new role.
They fear polling expert Deborah Mattinson, who worked for Whitehall before being appointed last month as the Labour leader’s director of strategy, will be able to pass on inside knowledge to Sir Keir’s team
Labour insiders hope Ms Mattinson’s appointment will shore up Sir Keir’s beleaguered leadership which faces another Red Wall test this week in West Yorkshire’s Batley and Spen by-election, which the Tories are expected to win.
One said last night: ‘We do desperately need her expertise.
‘But we need the Leader’s office to get a grip and start turning the tide against Boris Johnson.’
Labour MPs have been privately scathing of the performance of Sir Keir’s inner team, focusing on key aide Baroness (Jenny) Chapman who was blamed for picking a Remain supporter to be the party’s candidate in strongly Leave-voting Hartlepool.
His office has also faced fury for allowing Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin to stand for the West Yorkshire mayoralty, precipitating a by-election in the Labour marginal when she was elected as mayor last month.
Last week, Sir Keir axed Lady Chapman as political secretary and moved her to be a Brexit spokesperson in the Lords.
He also moved his chief of staff Morgan McSweeney to a new ‘strategic role’ overseeing preparations for the next general election.
Labour dismissed the ‘sleeper agent’ claims, with a source saying ‘this is absolute nonsense from the Tories’ who should spend ‘less time worrying about who Labour employs’ and more time dealing with the scandal over former Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who was shown to have broken his own social-distancing rules.
When her new Labour post was announced last month, Ms Mattinson said: ‘I am very much looking forward to joining Keir Starmer and his team.
‘The coming months will be challenging but I will be proud to play a part in helping Labour reconnect with the voters it has lost.’