Yesterday’s man and old time bruiser Nick Brown may be facing the rest of his career on the backbenchers, but that doesn’t mean he won’t still have a finger in the pie. His Special Advisor Gary Follis, former spinner for Alliance and Leicester and Amicus, is ultra-loyal and was the fixer’s fixer right up until the election. Out of government, Brown had to share his SpAd, and he’s been on loan to the Shadow Leader of the House – Rosie Winterton. It seems Follis will keep his job under the new Chief Whip and Brown’s old way of doing things looks set to continue…
Polly Billington – Gatekeeper and PR. Former BBC presenter and SpAd at the Department for Enviroment and Climate Change. (1)
Sadiq Khan – Campaign Manager. Controversial expenses fiddling MP for Tooting.
Lucy Powell – Chief of Staff. Failed PPC. (2)
Katie Myler – Spokesman. Former SpAd to Jacqui Smith, and the daughter News of the Screws editor Colin Myler. (3)
Stewart Wood – Head of Comms. Former Brown Bunker Bod and very close to Ed. (4)
Kenny Young – Press Officer. “Calamity Kenny” just about says it all. (5)
Rachel Kinnock – Events. Keeping it in the family. (6)
Greg Beales – Speechwriter. Highly rated boyfriend of spokesgirl Katie Myler. (7)
Ayesha Hazarika – Speechwriter. Stand up comic and Harman SpAd. (8)
James Morris – Polling and Message. Ally of Democrat and Brown pollster Stan Greenberg.
Alex Smith – Messaging and New Media, though doing diary work too. Editor of LabourList. (9)
Anna Yearly – Bag carrier. (10)
Nirmalee Wanduragala – Researcher. Former SpAd to Rosie Winterton and Fabian. (11)
Calum O’Byrne Mulligan – Researcher. Friends accuse him of being “Stalinist”. (12)
An update on calamity Kenny hits the inbox from a Scottish co-conspirator:
You may like to know that Kenny today led Ed Milliband through the turnstiles at the Scottish Parliament. However, oor Kenny led Ed to the wrong turnstile that only allows people to enter rather than exit. Cue a good 30 seconds or so of Ed looking like a cock trying to get through an immovable door. A far cry from Kenny’s door holding days of glory with Mr Brown.
Malcolm Tucker he ain’t…
In a quick update to the Labour Political Advisers list, Guido was most amused to hear that omnishambolic press officer Kenny Young has managed to keep his job. If you reward the slavish loyalty of greased-up party hacks who come up through the youth ranks with cosy press office jobs, you may find they don’t exactly have the talents required for such a high-pressure environment. Kenny is about as loyal as they come, a co-conspirator reports that he openly told people he styled his hair on Gordon Brown’s while chairman of Labour Students. So loyal he was assigned to be Gordon’s political press officer for the election campaign. Which went well.
First there was the infamous door opening for his hero Gordon, which the Tories quickly turned into an attack poster:
If that wasn’t bad enough in late April young Kenny was accompanying the Prime Minister on a trip to Rochdale. What could possible go wrong? Well any experienced press officer would have checked that their boss’s microphone was switched off after an event. Kenny was inside Mrs Duffy’s house as part of that hugely successful contingent of Brown staffers begging her to come outside after the apology.
Instead of firing this inept and useless spinner he’s got a new job. He’s now Ed Milband’s Head of Press… what could possibly go wrong?
UPDATE : Punters give Ed a 25% chance of becoming Labour leader versus a 62% chance for his brother David. No odds available on Kenny’s chances one day.
It’s not just former ministers and Labour MPs who are having to get used to life in the slow lane. Spare a moment for all those poor former Special Advisers. But don’t feel too bad, those that haven’t disappeared off to make their fortunes still have a job on the taxpayer. Labour now have almost all of the Short Money haul that used to be divided up between the Tories and the Liberal Democrats. They lose the “special” title though.
Like he did with the SpAds, Guido is putting together a list of all the Labour “Political Advisers” as they are now known. Not everyone here is necessarily on Short Money and many will be working on leadership bids or could be part-time for other reasons. The two dozen or so PAds cost taxpayers the best part of £2 million. Plenty of old faces have stuck around though.
Most amusing is Harman’s office where her staff basically consists of two economic wonks (Duncan Weldon and Stuart Hudson,) and a comedian (Ayesha Hazarika). Pretty much sums up where Labour are right now.
Given the Chief Secretary of the Treasury is himself somewhat lacking in financial expertise, you would think he would select his Special Advisor carefully for their financial prowess. Instead he has thrown yet another lifeline to a friend. Like he did with Willie Rennie in the Scotland Office, Danny Alexander has made another failed LibDem MP, Julia Goldsworthy, his SpAd. If the public wanted these people to stay in Westminster they would have voted for them.
Given her boss is in charge of reining in public spending it’s hardly reassuring to know a woman who spent over a grand of taxpayers’ money on a rocking chair is whispering advice in his ear.
Initially the position is unpaid since Goldsworthy had, with a lack of foresight, just taken a £30,000 MP’s resettlement grant which kind of disqualifies her from taking an immediate government salary. Though with her spending habits that can’t last long…
There were raised eye-brows when former LibDem MP Willie Rennie was appointed as the Special Advisor to the Scotland Office just days after being rejected at the ballot box by the voters of Dunfermline. To his credit he did not ask for a salary as a SpAd, the parliamentary resettlement payment was quite enough. A close ally of Danny Alexander, it seems now his old boss has moved up the ministerial ladder the first SpAd is set to quit. He will be replaced by Ming’s old ginger speech-writer Euan Roddin.
Willie claims he wants to return to Scotland as he is separated from his family while in London. Coincidentally candidates are being picked for next year’s Scottish Parliament elections right about now…
Guido has been chewing over the numbers. Given that a lowly CCHQ researcher or press officer would have been lucky to be on around £35,000, the jump to government for the lower rungs of the SpAd list has come with an extremely handsome pay-rise. Nearly 100% rise for those now touching £60-70k.
Though Coulson & Co. at the top have in some cases taken a pay cut, the coalition has brought some serious pay rises for others. Take the MPs in the Cabinet for example, they have had a 107% rise from their standard MPs salary. Backbenchers who are now Junior Ministers have had a 50% rise, even after Dave decreed that they would all have a 5% pay cut. All sharing the pain.
Cameron pre-power promised a cut down on SpAds. The New Dawn of Politics has managed to reduce the number from 78 to 68. There are still vacancies yet to be filled though. In this age of austerity some SpAds will be glancing over the list shocked that their rivals in other departments managed to negotiate more. Meanwhile the voting taxpayers will be looking at the whole get up with utter scorn.