Diary: PROs show their true colours as the LibDem leadership battle hots up

A small band of Liberal Democrat lobbyists and PROs have been whetting their campaigning skills in preparation for the official start of the party’s leadership race today.

A small band of Liberal Democrat lobbyists and PROs have been

whetting their campaigning skills in preparation for the official start

of the party’s leadership race today.



Charles Kennedy, the front-runner, has Lord Newby, a director of the

Matrix Partnership, as his campaign manager. Also on his team is Sarah

Gurling, a government relations executive at national lottery operator

Camelot, who is currently stepping out with Kennedy.



Her brother James, who works at GPC and advised Ashdown during the

general election, is also helping out.



These three already had their work cut out for them last week when

allegations were made in the press of Kennedy’s personal expense

excesses while a student politician.



Don Foster, billed as Kennedy’s main challenger, has LSA@Charles

Barker’s David Wheeldon and Ben Rich of Luther Pendragon on his team.

Wheeldon worked as a researcher for Foster up until four weeks ago.



During the pre-leadership contest, KPMG public affairs director Neil

Sherlock advised Nick Harvey and Menzies Campbell, but they have since

decided not to stand.



Sherlock may be asked to help Paul Tyler, who was deciding whether to

join the race as PR Week went to press.



Meanwhile, Paddy Ashdown’s personal spinner, Boots The Chemist

communications director Ian Wright, has been working overtime in the

run-up to the European elections.



Last week, Wright found himself standing in for an ITN journalist who

had failed to turn up and so interviewed Ashdown himself.



’I think Paddy thought the questions I asked him were a little harder

than normal,’ Wright giggles.



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