Posts Tagged ‘Spencer Livermore’

David Axelrod is Douglas Alexander’s “sock puppet consultant”

16/05/2014, 06:56:40 PM

No, it’s not a term of abuse, well not quite. Rather, it’s a description of David Axelrod’s role according to Westminster murmurings that have reached Uncut’s ears.

For all the fanboy gushing in Labour circles at the coup of hiring Axelrod (although given Axelrod’s core business is as a consultant for hire, Uncut wonders whether it’s quite such an achievement; will the party next be trumpeting how Ed Miliband went to Kwik Fit and successfully secured the services of a mechanic?) the motivation for handing over six figures to David Axelrod seems to have less to do with his counsel and more with the divisions at the top of the party.

The split between Douglas Alexander and Spencer Livermore on one side and the shadow chancellor’s team on the other, is well documented. That Ed Balls didn’t even receive a sign-off on last week’s much derided VAT poster, and the alacrity with which his team were keen to let the world know this fact, speaks volumes for the dysfunction in Labour’s campaign machine.

While Douglas Alexander nominally has the lead on campaign decisions, the political heft of the shadow chancellor means that it’s difficult for Alexander to blithely over-rule Balls.

This is where David Axelrod comes in.

He has been positioned as the swing voter. Prior to each key decision, Axelrod will be consulted, briefed and guided, by, yes, you guessed it, Douglas Alexander. And when the time comes to decide in the meeting, Axelrod will cast his vote with Douglas Alexander.

Axelrod’s American stardust and substantial remuneration mean it’s difficult for the shadow chancellor to simply ignore him. After all, given the party is paying so much money for one person’s advice, there would have to be an incredibly good reason to reject it.

This approach, of hiring a high end consultant to validate existing plans and insulate the internal decision-maker from criticism, is common-place in the public sector. These hires have even got a generic name: “sock puppet consultants.” Now the practice seems to have been imported into the Labour party.


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Labour in key seats retreat

14/01/2014, 06:27:23 PM

On the day ICM’s monthly poll saw Labour’s lead fall to 3 points, news reaches Uncut of a quiet “re-prioritisation” of the party’s list of 106 key seats.

At Uncut towers, we’ve been hearing grumbles from the field for a while that the flow of resources and help from head office has been extremely variable, with certain seats receiving substantially greater support than others.

Now a Brewer’s Green source has confirmed that a new approach is being implemented, saying “some seats are more key than others.”

Partially, this is the Livermore effect. Labour’s new campaign chief, Spencer Livermore, has been in post for just under two months and is focusing his scarce resources to maximise effectiveness.

But underpinning this reappraisal are two broader developments: first, the increasing effort Labour is having to devote to retaining marginal seats it already holds and second, the party’s flagging performance in the south.

At the last election Labour won 17 seats where the majority was only in three figures. Although Labour’s vote in these seats will undoubtedly be bolstered by defections from the Lib Dems, there is a real danger that anti-Labour supporters of the coalition parties will switch their votes to maximise the chances for a Labour defeat – after all, both the Tories and the Lib Dems will be standing on the same economic record.

In 2011, when Debbie Abrahams won the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election, it was notable that the Lib Dem vote held up, sustained largely by massive switching from the Tories.

If this type of behaviour were replicated at the next election then Labour could face losing large numbers of seats, with shadow cabinet members like Gloria De Piero, who had a majority at the last election of 192, under threat.

Allied to the need to protect these seats has been a growing realisation that Labour is not making the headway needed in some southern seats and that the party’s finite resources would make more of a difference if committed elsewhere, principally in the northern marginals.

The source who spoke to Uncut highlighted Dover, Crawley and Battersea as examples of the types of seats where Labour is struggling.

This doesn’t mean all support for the lower priority list will be withheld, more that they will not get first call on the resources that are available.

The source suggested Labour’s realistic target list is nearer 60 than 106.

In effect, Labour is now targeting a coalition with the Lib Dems following the next election.

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Labour’s head office in “chaos” as Livermore begins his first day in charge

18/11/2013, 07:00:54 AM

This morning, Spencer Livermore will step across the threshold of Labour’s Brewer’s Green HQ and formally take charge of Labour’s general election preparations.

As we previously reported, Ed Miliband’s personal appointment of the former Gordon Brown protégé as campaign director effectively sidelines the party’s general secretary, Iain McNicol, the party’s chief official, who was appointed by the party’s National Executive Committee in 2011.

Ahead of Livermore’s arrival, the atmosphere at Brewer’s Green is tense, with one well-placed insider describing it as “chaos” as the fallout from the botched Falkirk selection continues to play out in the media spotlight.

“There’s a total breakdown of trust between the general secretary’s team and the leader’s office,” says the insider.

“The staff are completely paralysed. It’s like a sitcom being played out before us”.

Yet this is a sideshow compared to the potential calamity next spring as Ed Miliband seeks to drive through his landmark changes to the way affiliated trade unions fund the party.

Miliband is staking everything on getting a new opt-in arrangement where millions of ordinary trade unionists choose to support the party, rather than have union chiefs wielding their chequebooks on their members’ behalf.

Party sources claim that Miliband sleepwalked into announcing the reforms without really understanding their full implications.

“Virtually the entire staff understood you’re ending the collective link but even the most senior advisers to Ed didn’t realise” says one insider.


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Is the average Labour party salary really £43k per year?

24/10/2013, 02:34:20 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Last week Uncut carried news of another restructure at Labour HQ, with the party’s executive directors now reporting to Spencer Livermore instead of general secretary, Iain McNicol. It prompted one member of the team at Brewer’s Green to get in touch and draw our attention to something very peculiar: the strange case of the Labour party wage bill.

Normally a political party’s wage bill rises in the run-up to a general election as new staff are taken-on to gear up for battle. It then falls immediately following the contest, with parties’ reverting to their core staff team, until the election drum-beat sounds again later in the new electoral cycle.

Or, at least that’s how things used to be. Since 2010, Labour has taken a very different path.

After the general election, rather than the numbers in the staff team falling, they went up. In 2010, according to the Labour party accounts it employed an average of 247 full time equivalent employees (assuming part-time staff are 0.5 of a full time equivalent or fte). One year later, the number had risen to 288 fte with the party wage bill rising from £12.2m in 2010 to £13.1m in 2011.

Partially this was a result of moving from government to opposition, with large numbers of advisers moving from the civil service payroll onto the Labour party’s books. But even then, it was quite striking for numbers and costs to rise so steeply.

By way of comparison, in 2010, according to the Conservative party accounts, the average number of staff employed was 221 at a cost of £11.7m.

This means in 2011, at the point in the electoral cycle when costs should have been at their lowest, Labour was employing 67 more staff than the Tories had had to fight the general election and spending £1.4m more on its wage bill.


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McNicol sidelined in coup as Miliband asserts control over party machine

20/10/2013, 07:00:09 AM

At 1pm last Thursday, Labour party staff were summoned to the Buckingham Room on the first floor of the party’s Brewer’s Gate head office.

Ed Miliband, flanked by Douglas Alexander, his newly-appointed ‘Chair of General Election Strategy’ introduced Spencer Livermore as the party’s new campaigns director who will now be tasked with day-to-day control of the party’s election campaign.

Livermore, reading from a prepared script, announced that in future, the party’s seven executive directors would report directly to him – bypassing Iain McNicol, the party’s General Secretary.

Uncut can reveal that the announcement came as a total shock to most senior staff who knew nothing about the changes – including, it is said, NcNicol himself.

Appointed to run the party’s organisation by a vote of the governing National Executive Committee, both McNicol and the NEC have been effectively usurped by Miliband’s team in an organisational coup.

“It was a brutal meeting” said one eyewitness.

“It’s been obvious for some time that they were going to do something. Iain is not Ed’s man”.


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Sunday News Review

06/02/2011, 06:50:43 AM

10,000 Police to go

The Labour party has released data collated from police forces across England and Wales that shows 10,190 police officers are to be cut during the coming two years. In addition thousands of staff jobs will be cut or have already gone – meaning more administrative work must be carried out by police officers. Labour’s research of all police authorities (except City of London Police and non-geographical forces) has found that thousands of full time police officers are set to be axed, or have already been cut, from police forces across the UK. The research showed that 40 of the 42 forces surveyed had announced the numbers of officers likely to be cut with Gwent and Essex Police yet to declare the size of reductions to be seen. Labour says the figures expose the claim from the Tory-led Government that they can cut the Police budget by 20 per cent and still protect the frontline as false. Yvette Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said: “These figures show the shocking and brutal reality of the 20 per cent police cuts. Far from protecting frontline policing as Ministers promised, over 10,000 police officers are being cut in the next few years alone. –

Police numbers in England and Wales will fall by more than 10,000 by the end of next year, according to new research by the Labour Party. That total will almost certainly rise as a third of forces have yet to complete their calculations. Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “These figures show the shocking and brutal reality of the 20 per cent police cuts.” But Police Minister Nick Herbert questions her findings, and insists police numbers would have fallen under Labour’s plans. He also says that by making efficiency savings, forces can prioritise the frontline “so that service to the public is maintained and improved”. However, Labour has garnered its information from published material from individual police forces. – Sky News

No money for tax cuts

The Prime Minister says the growing demand to reduce the tax burden for millions of families, facing higher prices and the threat of job losses, “does not add up” in the current climate.  He also rules out a “Plan B” on economic policy in the wake of official figures showing the economy shrinking by 0.5 per cent in the final quarter of last year, which sparked fears of a double-dip recession.  The Prime Minister also suggests the government will not take further action against bankers’ bonuses, arguing that he is not interested in giving banks a “kick in the pants” – but in getting them lending again, particularly to small businesses.  Bob Diamond, the chief executive of Barclays, is set to get a £9 million bonus this year. Stuart Gulliver, the new chief executive of HSBC, is also expected to get a bonus of as much as £9 million later this month.  Mr Cameron points out his government is protecting the poorest and lifting tens of thousands out of tax altogether by changing tax thresholds. He insists he leads a “pro-enterprise government”. – Daily Telegraph

David Cameron has ruled out ‘significant’ tax cuts while the Government is cutting spending to reduce the deficit. The Prime Minister said he wanted to offer people ‘relief’, but suggested that would only be possible ‘at the end of this hard road’. His comments came ahead of the much anticipated March 23 Budget. David Cameron has ruled out ‘significant’ tax cuts in the forthcoming Budget, despite wanting to offer people ‘relief’ Chancellor George Osborne is facing calls to reduce the burden on hard-pressed voters as inflation spirals. Tory Mayor of London Boris Johnson urged him last month to set out ‘a clear direction of travel’ on how taxes could be reduced. But Mr Cameron insisted there was no ‘Plan B’ on the coalition’s deficit-reduction strategy and said tax cuts would only undo the work of painful curbs in public spending. ‘I would love to see tax reductions. I’m a tax-cutting Tory and I believe in tax cuts, but when you’re borrowing 11 per cent of your GDP, it’s not possible to make significant net tax cuts. It just isn’t,’ he said in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph. ‘It’s no good saying we’re going to deal with the deficit by cutting spending, but then we’re going to make things worse again by cutting taxes. I’m afraid it doesn’t add up.’ Later in the interview, he added: ‘Do I want to see, at the end of this hard road, relief and lower taxes for hard-working people? Yes I do.’ – Daily Mail

Anti AV campaign gathers pace

Campaigners against electoral reform are to distribute six million leaflets taunting Nick Clegg for describing the proposed alternative vote (AV) system as a “miserable little compromise” before the last general election. The No to AV campaign, whose push to maintain the “first past the post” system is backed by David Cameron, believes that Clegg’s assessment of AV last April fatally undermines his case for adopting the method as it shows that even he is unenthusiastic. The leaflet campaign is part of a push by the cross-party “no” camp to associate AV in the public mind with the Liberal Democrat leader and his party, whose popularity has plummeted since the pre-election upsurge of “Cleggmania”. The “no” campaign includes veteran Labour veterans and street-fighters such as John Prescott, Margaret Beckett and John Reid, and is expected to adopt a ruthless approach in its attempt to deprive the Lib Dems of a trophy that would cement the coalition and boost the party’s chances of playing “kingmaker” in future governments. In another sign of the “go for Clegg” strategy, Joan Ryan, deputy director of No to AV, who is a former Labour MP, accused advocates of the new system of trying to hide the Lib Dem leader before the campaign proper has even begun. – the Guardian

Livermore has another life

Ed Miliband has offered a job to a former aide of Gordon Brown who claimed to have been unfairly blamed along with the new Labour leader for 2007’s on-off Election fiasco. Spencer Livermore, Mr Brown’s Director of Political Strategy, visited Mr Miliband’s Commons office last week for talks on a new role. Mr Livermore resigned from No 10 following Mr Brown’s disastrous decision to call off a snap Election in the autumn of 2007. The aide was said to have been reduced to tears by the notoriously hot-tempered Prime Minister. Although Mr Livermore denied the claim, sources say he was badly scarred and had to be comforted by friends. Labour insiders say Mr Miliband wants Slough-born Mr Livermore, 35 – judged by Pink News as the most powerful gay man in Britain when he worked at No 10 – to join his team.‘He has one of the sharpest brains in politics. He’d be a tremendous asset,’ said a  source. ‘He understands voters’ instincts better than anyone.’ Mr Livermore originally worked alongside Mr Miliband when they were advising Mr Brown as Chancellor. Later the pair were among the few aides in the room when Mr Brown aborted his November 2007 Election proposal. Mr Livermore said that immediately after the meeting Mr Miliband observed: ‘I bet within 20 minutes we find we’re going to get the blame for this.’ – Daily Mail

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