Lib Dem PR and campaign figures working for 'centrist' political group

Former Liberal Democrat senior press officer Debbie Gore and ex-campaign and membership chief Austin Rathe are two key figures supporting, the new group promoting progressive and centrist voices in UK politics, PRWeek has learned.

Gore heads the press function for the campaign, which launched on Sunday, in a full-time role. Rathe is a director, leading operations but maintaining a full-time role as an associate at Brunswick, where he advises clients on digital comms and public affairs. is spearheaded by former Liberal Democrat leader and now peer Lord Ashdown, and prominent backers include businesswoman Martha Lane Fox, entertainer Luke Pritchard, environmentalist Jonathon Porritt, and Caroline Criado-Perez, who campaigned to have female historical figures included on UK bank notes.

The organisation said it would use crowdfunding to raise money to directly support any election candidate who subscribes to its progressive principles. These include supporting a "green economy", closing the gap between rich and poor, valuing diversity, supporting the "closest possible relationship with the EU" and making the positive case for immigration.

Gore told PRWeek: "What we’re saying is, no matter which party you’re in, we will fundraise and campaign for you to win your seat, so we can get more progressive, modern, centrist, tolerant politicians in Parliament."

The crowdfunding campaign will launch formally in mid-to-late September, but Gore said around £10,000 had already been donated. In addition, around 16,500 people registered as supporters in just over 24 hours after its launch.

"It’s landing quite well on social media," said Gore. "I think this is really going to be something that’s driven online.

"We’re not using the internet and tech in the way we should in politics, and this is a way to do that; to drive everything online and having more of a voice, rather than bog standard press releases coming out of party political machines."

She added: "There are millions of people out there who are engaged with politics but they don’t necessarily want to do that through signing up to a political party.

"That was the whole premise of it - we could go online and be a vehicle for change."

The campaign launched with an interview with Ashdown on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One on Sunday.

Creation of video content will be one focus over the coming weeks, Gore said. has a ‘core’ volunteer base of around eight to 10, along with a further 25-30 helping across different fields, she added.

Former journalist Gore worked for organisations including Mines Advisory Group, which helps communities affected by landmines, and the children’s organisation the Angus Lawson Memorial Trust, before joining the Lib Dems for their 2015 general election campaign.

Before joining Brunswick in January, Rathe was the Lib Dems' head of members and supporters and was previously deputy head of campaign development.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in