Advantage Alexander in Labour’s campaign team reshuffle

Three new faces join Labour’s campaign team as deputies to Labour’s chair of campaign strategy, Douglas Alexander: Gloria de Piero, Toby Perkins and Jon Ashworth to improve broadcast coverage, field operations and work with candidates. Cue warm fraternal regards from all and sundry on Twitter, nothing to see here, all just run of the mill announcements.

Except of course, they aren’t.

The essential background is that Michael Dugher – responsible for campaign communications – and Douglas Alexander, are not on speaking terms. We know because of this. Quite possibly the most extraordinary example of red on red briefing since the low point of the TB-GBs a decade ago.

The overlapping nature of their briefs was always likely to cause friction, a function of Ed Miliband’s reluctance to pick a single campaign boss. Now, the Alexander-Dugher antipathy has become so entrenched that even by Labour’s dysfunctional standards (see recent comments by J Cruddas about unreconciled camps), something had to be done.

Rather than fix the original mistake and unambiguously choose a single campaign lead, Ed Miliband has opted for a fudge.

The primary role of the new appointments is to form a human shield between Alexander and Dugher.

In the original campaign structure, Dugher and Alexander had an executive function: their role was to discuss the recommendations from the staff team and make decisions. But in a world where the two aren’t talking, and the leader refuses to choose between them, a buffer was needed.

Enter the new deputies.

It’s notable that on the Tory side of the fence, there is no comparable proliferation of MPs in campaign roles. They have a single official at the helm, Lynton Crosby, who is accountable to Cameron and Osborne and that’s it. Everyone else does as they are told.

In terms of what this team reshuffle will mean for the balance of power at the top of Labour’s campaign, two interpretations are currently doing the rounds.

The first is that Michael Dugher’s wings have been clipped with the apparent loss of autonomy in areas like broadcast and messaging for candidates. The second is that these new faces are all Dugher allies and in fact it’s Douglas Alexander who is being hemmed in.

Uncut’s PLP mole tells us that the former is nearer the truth.

While the new appointees are close to Dugher – particularly de Piero and Ashworth – they are now directly subordinate to Douglas Alexander. This means Alexander has control over areas of campaign activity that were previously exclusively Michael Dugher’s responsibility.

In the cycle of campaign meetings, the new deputies will be sitting around the table with Douglas Alexander and Labour’s own lead official and campaign director, Spencer Livermore. Alexander and Livermore are politically very close – a relationship forged in the fall-out from Gordon Brown’s election that never was in November 2007, when both were blamed by Brown’s Ballsite inner circle for the farrago.

With composite campaign supremo, Alexander Livermore, running the meetings and making the decisions, it’s hard to see how any distinct agenda pushed by key Balls ally Dugher, could be advanced.

Advantage Alexander.

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6 Responses to “Advantage Alexander in Labour’s campaign team reshuffle”

  1. swatantra says:

    Who needs the Tories with enemies like X and Y and Z in the Party?
    One Election Supremo, like Mandy, would have been enough.

  2. Richard Heller says:

    Has Douglas Alexander been rewarded for Labour’s brilliant election campaigns this year?

  3. Madasafish says:

    So the would be Government cannot even organise a campaign manager. And they expect to run the country?

    If it was not so scary, it would be rolling in the aisles time.

    And the fact that it takes an unofficial blogger to explain it all, says a lot about the lack of presentation skills of those responsible for the appointment. So nothing new there.

  4. Blairite says:

    Utter disaster. Axelrod should just run the whole thing with Douglas Alexander or Peter Mandelson. None of these deputies etc.

  5. JamesB says:

    The word fudge is the right one. Same on the campaign side as on the policy side (individual Shadow Cabinet reviews, National Policy Forum, Cruddas’s stuff all running alongside each other). If we can’t get structures and decision-making right in opposition you’ve got to wonder how we’ll do it in government

  6. robin strickland says:

    I take it they do not want to win the next General Election. I am in despair at the lack of any kind of cohesive strategy, anywhere.

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