Labour leadership contest: six candidates prepare for battle

Candidates draft in media experts, but where are Peter Mandelson and Damian McBride?

Former Labour leader: Gordon Brown
Former Labour leader: Gordon Brown

The four leading contenders for the Labour leadership are all using media relations experts to guide their campaigns.

David Miliband is taking regular advice from Google communications director DJ Collins and former ITV corporate affairs director Jim Godfrey, while Ed Miliband's PR is being overseen by former BBC Radio 4 reporter Polly Billington.

Andy Burnham has called in Stuart Bruce, MD of PR consultancy Wolfstar, to direct communications, working alongside former Freight Transport Association comms chief Jo Tanner. And Ed Balls is utilising a number of Gordon Brown's media handlers, including one known as the former PM's 'gaffe monitor'.

Meanwhile, some of the biggest beasts of political communications are watching closely from the sidelines. Alastair Campbell is publicly backing David Miliband and is on hand to provide advice. Peter Mandelson has declined to publicly support any one candidate, but is believed to be in sporadic contact with David Miliband's campaign.

Westminster rumours that Damian McBride is secretly guiding the Ed Balls' campaign may prove to be wide of the mark, but Gordon Brown's controversial former special adviser is no stranger to the Balls campaign, according to well-placed insiders.

 

DAVID MILIBAND

Campaign managers: Jim Murphy MP and Douglas Alexander MP

Campaign adviser: James Purnell. The former work and pensions secretary is a close personal friend of Miliband

Official spokesperson: Lisa Tremble. Former special adviser to James Purnell

Press secretary: Jim Godfrey. Former Labour special adviser went on to be ITV corporate comms director. Now runs his own agency, Gallie Godfrey

Online comms manager: Jessica Asato. Ex-deputy director of Progress pressure group

Communications adviser: DJ Collins. Google UK head of corporate communications takes a part-time role

 

ED MILIBAND

Campaign director: Stewart Wood. Gordon Brown's foreign affairs adviser in Downing Street

Campaign coordinator: Lucy Powell. Former director of the pro-European Britain in Europe campaign group narrowly missed out on becoming an MP in 2010 election

Media director: Polly Billington. Former reporter on BBC Radio 4's flagship Today programme was a special adviser to Miliband in Government

Events director: Rachel Kinnock. Daughter of Neil Kinnock and a Downing Street staffer under Gordon Brown

Parliamentary agents: Hilary Benn MP, John Denham MP, Chukka Umunna MP

 

ED BALLS

Campaign managers: Anne Snelgrove and Sarah McCarthy-Fry. Former MPs, both lost their seats in the 2010 election

Campaign advisers: Mike Dugher MP, Ian Austin MP and Tom Watson MP. Dugher and Austin are former press advisers to Gordon Brown. Both are believed to be helping to shape media strategy. Watson had a place in Brown's 'war room' while a minister. He is advising Balls on new media

Press secretary: Alex Belardinelli. Was a special adviser to Balls during his time as secretary of state for children, schools and families

Media adviser: Nicola Burdett. Former BBC producer and Gordon Brown's Downing Street 'gaffe monitor' takes a part-time role

 

ANDY BURNHAM

Campaign director: Kevin Lee. Former Labour Party regional director for the North West, now a freelance consultant

Strategy & media director: Stuart Bruce. Founder and MD of PR and social media consultancy Wolfstar. Bruce was director of comms for Alan Johnson's 2007 deputy leadership bid

Strategy & coordination director: Mick Swales. Chief of staff to Gerry Sutcliffe MP

Press secretary: Jo Tanner. Until recently was director of communications at the Freight Transport Association. Before this, she spent eight years working in medico-political communications and stood for Labour as a candidate in the 2001 election

Parliamentary agent: Gerry Sutcliffe MP

 

JOHN McDONNELL

The left-winger launched his campaign at the Public and Commercial Services Union conference.

He is backed by the RMT transport union, led by Bob Crow, and a handful of MPs.

Union operatives are understood to be offering support, but McDonnell is largely operating on a skeleton staff.

 

DIANE ABBOTT

The last candidate to throw her hat in the ring, Abbott is relying on her parliamentary staff Sally Scott and Ruby Morgan to handle press inquiries and to organise campaign events.

As PRWeek went to press, she had just one other MP on board, David Lammy, who is not thought to be playing an active role on the campaign.

 

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