One of US President Barack Obama’s top campaign strategists has been recruited by Labour to play a key role in Ed Miliband’s bid for Downing Street in next year’s general election.
David Axelrod, who is credited with masterminding Mr Obama’s back-to-back presidential victories in 2008 and 2012, will join Labour’s general election campaign team as a senior strategic adviser, the party announced.
The Jewish New Yorker’s appointment was been hailed by Labour as a major coup – and “seriously bad news for the Conservatives” – at a time when Mr Miliband has been under fire from sections of his own party for his campaign tactics.
It was said to mark the end of several months of negotiations by Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary and the chair of Labour’s general election strategy, to secure his services and those of his firm AKPD.
The party said he would become an integral part of Labour’s team, working closely with Mr Alexander, campaign director Spencer Livermore, and the party’s senior pollster Stan Greenberg. He will also take part in regular strategic discussions with Mr Miliband and the Labour campaign team.
Mr Miliband said: “David Axelrod is known across the world for helping get President Obama into the White House in 2008 and then win re-election in 2012. In his work for President Obama, David helped shape a campaign that reflected his vision, focused on building an economy that works for all hard-working people and not just a privileged few.
“It’s excellent news that David has agreed to help One Nation Labour win the next election and build our campaign to change Britain so hard-working people are better off. He will be a huge asset to our campaign as we work to show the British people how we can change our country for the better. ”
Mr Axelrod is due to arrive in London next month for two days of strategy meetings with Mr Miliband, deputy leader Harriet Harman, and other senior shadow cabinet members.
He will be supported by other veterans from the Obama for America campaign, including Larry Grisolano and Mike Donilon, as AKPD picks up the pace of its work with Labour from the early months of next year.
Mr Axelrod said: “I’ve had several conversations with Ed Miliband over the course of the last year in which I have been struck by the power of his ideas, the strength of his vision and the focus he brings to solving the fundamental challenge facing Britain.
“He understands that a growing economy demands that you have to have broad prosperity. We can’t just have prosperity hoarded by a few where people at the top are getting wealthier and wealthier but people in the middle are getting squeezed.
“This is a problem not just for Britain but everywhere in advanced economies, including here in the US. Ed Miliband has a real vision of where we need to go to solve those problems. He has answers to these questions which will be very potent in the next election.
“That is how we won in the US. Barack Obama articulated a vision which had, at its core, the experience of everyday people. And everyday people responded, they organised and they overcame the odds. I see the same thing happening in Britain.”