Chancellor picks top political journalist as comms chief

Former ITV News national editor Allegra Stratton has been appointed director of strategic communications to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak.

Allegra Stratton joins the pantheon of senior journalists to have moved into political comms roles
Allegra Stratton joins the pantheon of senior journalists to have moved into political comms roles

Stratton will take responsibility for shaping how the Chancellor explains and promotes Treasury policies as well as how they will affect households and business during the pandemic.

She will also have a comms role in long-term Treasury projects and wider government strategy.

Stratton’s appointment is a political one, as a special adviser, in contrast to the Civil Servant role of director of comms at the Treasury.

Well-trod road

Stratton is the latest in a long line of journalists to be appointed to a senior political comms role.

Successive prime ministers have traditionally picked journalists to run their communications, including Alastair Campbell under Tony Blair’s premiership and Craig Oliver under David Cameron’s.

The latest Downing Street director of communications is Lee Cain who, although not a senior media figure, had a career in journalism before his arrival at Number 10.

Katie Perrior, co-founder of iNHouse Communications and a director of comms during the first part of Theresa May’s premiership, is an exception to this trend.

Chancellors have also appointed their own comms chiefs in the past.

James Chapman, a former political editor of the Daily Mail and now an adviser at J&H Communications, was George Osborne’s director of comms, while Charlie Whelan, now at Unite, was Gordon Brown's comms chief while he was Chancellor.

Career path

Stratton, who studied archaeology and anthropology at Cambridge, started out as a producer for the BBC and later wrote for publications including The Independent and the New Statesman.

She became a political correspondent for The Guardian and then returned to broadcast as political editor of Newsnight, a role she held for three years.

In 2018, Stratton left the BBC to join ITV News as its national editor, co-presenting Peston on Sunday until 2018.

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