Price and Godfrey exit as Labour's PR unit disbands

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

private sector.

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

party HQ.

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.

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