Appointment of Aides Underlines Downing Street’s Tensions

Below the ministerial reshuffle headlines today are important appointments by the PM to Number 10. The good news is that Downing Street has decided it needs direction to its strategy. The summer recess, after all, delivered new records of channel migrants during ‘stop the boats’ week – and not much else. The much promised ‘gloves off’ moment against Starmer is yet to appear…

The interesting news is that the strategy (which really means the run up to the election) will be directed by music industry lobbyist and former Matt Hancock aide Jamie Njoku-Goodwin. A friendly figure in SW1, Jamie is a popular spinner most at home feeding the daily and Sunday Lobby hack pack. This is a different job description to a political strategist. Whispers emerge from No. 10 that Jamie’s close relationship with the Lobby has very much put the current Director of Communications Amber de Botton’s nose out of joint. Under pressure in the polls, the internal tensions of an under-performing Number 10 are beginning to break out into the open.

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin is also an ally of Liam Booth-Smith – for ally, read ‘former housemate’. Chatter in the building is that this appointment shows the PM’s Chief of Staff shoring up his position by bringing in a friend, given recent ructions with other senior advisers over the government’s woeful performance since taking – seizing – the reins almost a year ago. Having a ‘director of strategy’ in post will be very useful for those seeking to avoid any blame game following an election defeat. Liam Booth-Smith thinks James Forsyth is not an objective adviser to his best friend the PM, and Jamie will be a useful counterweight voice. Contrariwise, Forsyth has got it in for Liam, whom he thinks is sub-par. 

The appointment will also propel forward Jamie’s search for a safe seat, having been careful to keep it quiet from the music industry that he was on the Tory approved candidates list. Jamie is a genuine chess maestro and has in the past successfully relieved Guido of a few quid from the other side of the board with ease. Any move for a safe seat would probably see him of necessity depart the strategic helm in Downing Street well before election day, so his position is likely tactically en passant. The quid-pro-quo for joining play in the endgame.

Adam Atashzai’s time-limited appointment signals the ‘gloves off’ moment is imminent. His is the return to Downing Street of a “wartime consigliere” to the political office. Even admirers of James Forsyth will concede he is more a Tom Hagen than a ruthless Corleone. Atashzai fights politics with knuckle-dusters.

Good luck insiders, SpAds and spinners – you know how to reach us…

mdi-timer 31 August 2023 @ 12:10 31 Aug 2023 @ 12:10 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments