The Labour Party's famed PR operation at Millbank Tower is breaking
up in the wake of its historic second general election triumph.
Millbank has lost two of its top three communicators since its landslide
victory on 7 June. Of the 25 to 30 full-time staff in place during the
campaign, barely a dozen remain.
Communications director Lance Price, who took control of Labour's PR
function last year (PRWeek, 23 June) after a spell as a Downing Street
special adviser, has left.
The former BBC political correspondent is understood to have moved to
France to take a break from the communications world.
His number three, Jim Godfrey, has also left Millbank. He has quit to
join the newly-promoted secretary of state for trade and industry,
Patricia Hewitt, as a special adviser.
Before joining Millbank as senior press officer a year ago, Godfrey was
PR manager for the Institute of Public Policy Research. During that time
he worked for Hewitt one day a week when she was e-commerce
The remaining member of the three-strong top team, chief press officer
Steve Bates, is known to be considering a series of offers from the
Formerly Labour's broadcasting officer, Bates was handed the number two
role in one of the party's first pre-election war machine shake-ups
early last year (PRWeek, 4 February 2000).
He is also the most likely internal candidate for the director of
communications role, though the appointment of Charles Clarke as party
chairman has left a question mark over the structure of operations at
The former chief of staff to the then party leader Neil Kinnock was
handed the inaugural cabinet-ranked chairman post in Prime Minister Tony
Blair's wide-ranging post-election ministerial reshuffle two weeks
The communication director role is of less importance between elections
than during them. It is still significant, however, with a possible Euro
referendum in the next year, European parliament and devolved assembly
elections within two years, and local authority polls aplenty to
Bates this week welcomed news that the recently-established Electoral
Commission was to review the system for party election broadcasts. 'We
are having discussions with the BBC about how things went during the
election,' he said.