One of the key figures on David Miliband’s failed Labour leadership campaign is to join Starbucks as its top European lobbyist, as other members of the campaign team settle in to new PR roles.
Jim Godfrey has been appointed vice president, public affairs for the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Africa at the coffee giant.
A former Labour special adviser and ITV corporate affairs director, Godfrey served as press secretary for the David Miliband leadership campaign last year.
With his candidate initially favourite to win the contest, Godfrey had been expected to take a key role advising the Labour leader in the run-up to a 2015 general election. But Godfrey – along with other members of the campaign team - was forced to revisit his plans following David Miliband’s defeat by brother Ed Miliband.
The ex-special adviser will start at Starbucks next month, after winding down his comms consultancy GallieGodfrey. He will be based in London and will report to Corey duBrowa, the coffee giant’s US-based VP for global comms and international public affairs.
Team Miliband spreads it wings
Godfrey is the second key figure from David Miliband’s leadership campaign to take a corporate PR role, after official spokeswoman Lisa Tremble took a job as a director at lobbying consultancy Lexington Communications last year (PRWeek, 7 October).
Other advisers to the David Miliband campaign have also focused on furthering their careers in PR in the wake of their candidate’s failure to become Labour leader.
Katie O’Donovan, who assisted with speeches and media preparation on the leadership campaign is now head of comms at Mumsnet.
Sue Macmillan, who masterminded the campaign’s digital comms, is now working as a freelance consultant, while a number of contributors to the campaign’s social media strategy have taken new corporate PR roles. They include Alex Pearmain, now head of social media at O2, and Simon Redfern, who is soon to become a partner at newly-launched consultancy Pagefield, whose clients include ITN and Camelot.
Meanwhile, Google executive D-J Collins, a close ally of David Miliband who provided key strategic comms advice throughout his leadership campaign, recently took on a wide-ranging new role as VP for comms and public policy across Europe, Middle East and Africa at the internet giant.
'These people will be back'
Yet Labour insiders insisted that David Miliband’s campaign team had not given up on helping to get their man in to power. One well-known Labour strategist said: ‘Ed [Miliband] is safe for now – but these people will be back when the time is right. For now they are getting some money in the bank, learning more stuff and getting better equipped.’
Another senior party source echoed this sentiment: ‘It’s a case of fill your boots and come back later.
‘David is doing little interventions to let people know he’s still here. He’ll probably campaign a bit in the AV referendum that no-one cares about. But he still has his business interests – and that’s exactly what his advisers are doing.
‘They are going to the corporates and they are getting business experience. Now it could be that it’s a permanent vacation, or it could be just for a couple of seasons…. Corporate can be a bit soul-destroying when you’ve worked in politics.’
Labour sources suggested if David Miliband did not make a return to frontline politics, then many of his advisers would throw their weight behind shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy, one the David Miliband leadership campaign managers.
‘Jim Murphy’s pretty much the locus of the Miliband-ites,’ said one insider. ‘He’s very much seen as the next contender if David doesn’t go for it next time.’
However, other Labour figures who backed David Miliband’s leadership campaign played down such speculation.
Paul Richards, a former special adviser to two Labour secretaries of state, who backed David Miliband last year, said: ‘The reality is there hasn’t been a lurch to the left, Ed has made some good moves on key appointments to the shadow cabinet and we’re winning in by-elections. It’s a fairly settled question that the leadership we have is here to stay.
‘There’s a diaspora of people who worked for the last government, who are off doing interesting things in other sectors, and they would be part of the talent pool that a Labour prime minister would be able to draw on should Labour form a government.’