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.