UK Politics

Labour election strategist David Axelrod starts work

Ed Miliband and David Axelrod Image copyright BBC News

Labour's new election strategist David Axelrod has held his first meeting with Ed Miliband and the shadow cabinet.

Mr Axelrod, a former adviser to US President Barack Obama, was hired last month on a reported six figure salary.

He is in the UK for two days of talks with Mr Miliband and his team as Labour begins gearing up for next year's general election.

He is expected to work closely with campaign co-ordinator Douglas Alexander and American pollster Stan Greenberg.

Mr Axelrod was Mr Obama's campaign adviser during his successful run for the presidency in 2008 and senior strategist for the president's re-election campaign in 2012.

Who is David Axelrod?

  • David Axelrod is widely considered the man who steered Barack Obama to the White House.
  • A former journalist who left the newsroom for the world of electioneering, he once told the LA Times that he went into politics because of his idealism.
  • He worked with a number of leading Democrats, including Hillary Clinton and former presidential candidate John Edwards.
  • But it was his relationship with Mr Obama which proved the most fruitful. Mr Axelrod masterminded the Obama campaign that saw him become the first African-American president in 2008. And he returned four years later to work on Mr Obama's re-election.
  • He is now director at the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics and says he is "proud" to make his political return to work with Ed Miliband.

Mr Axelrod addressed the shadow cabinet on Thursday morning and has held meetings with senior Labour figures including Mr Miliband, Mr Alexander, shadow chancellor Ed Balls and deputy leader Harriet Harman.

One shadow cabinet source told BBC deputy political editor James Landale that Mr Axelrod had joked about "not having billions of dollars to spend on the campaign".

Image copyright BBC News

And another MP said Mr Axelrod had given "a fresh perspective on campaign and tone, particularly on reaching out to those disaffected by politics generally".

Labour has retained the services of Mr Axelrod's political consultancy AKPD, which employs other veterans from the Obama campaign, including Larry Grisolano and Mike Donilon.

Fellow Democrat Stan Greenberg, a former pollster for former US President Bill Clinton and ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, also remains on the Labour team.

Another former US Democrat strategist and Obama guru Arnie Graf, who has been helping Labour build a grassroots network of community organisers, is reported to have returned to America, but Mr Alexander has denied claims the party has sacked him.

Following his appointment in April, Mr Axelrod said he been struck by the "power" of Ed Miliband's ideas, and "the focus he brings to solving the fundamental challenge facing Britain".

In August last year, the Conservatives confirmed they had recruited former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina to work on its 2015 election team.

As with Mr Axelrod, Mr Messina is not leading the campaign on the ground but remains in the US and "reports in to the Conservatives' senior management team".

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