Labour Party set to overhaul comms operation as press chiefs quit

The Labour Party's top two media operators are both preparing to quit, sparking a scramble for new faces to manage the party's press operation.

Comms overhaul: Ed Miliband
Comms overhaul: Ed Miliband

PRWeek has learned that the party's director of press and broadcasting, Roger Baker, is planning to leave by the end of the year.

With Ed Miliband now in place as Labour leader, Baker is said to be keen to secure a role outside the party and has told general secretary Ray Collins he will stand aside once a replacement is signed up.

At the same time, deputy director of press Tom Price is preparing to leave the Labour press office to work as an adviser to shadow work and pensions secretary Douglas Alexander, where he will be joined by the party's director of policy and research Steve Van Riel.

A senior Labour source said the party hoped to poach two senior operators to plug the gaps in the press office. Labour will also recruit a further eight to ten press officers.

'We need to quickly get a strategic comms operation that mirrors the set-up in Number 10,' said the source.

In addition, Miliband is being urged to hire an over-arching director of comms, with former Number 10 staffer Stewart Wood favourite to get the job.

'Ed has been advised of the need to hire a single director of comms, based in his office,' said one insider. 'That would encompass press, broadcast, campaign and policy - like Peter Mandelson in the 1980s.'

Sources in Miliband's entourage said no decision had been made, but that Wood was in pole position for such a role, having advised Miliband during his leadership campaign.

Miliband's former special adviser Polly Billington will also be offered a key role.

A Labour Party spokesman declined to comment.

 

LABOUR MOVERS

Director of press and broadcasting Roger Baker has told party figures he is keen to move on. He was promoted into the role 2008, replacing Jo Murray.

Deputy director of press Tom Price is leaving the press office to work for Douglas Alexander MP. He is a former Daily Mail assistant news editor.

Director of policy and research Steve Van Riel is also leaving his post to become an adviser to Alexander.

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