Jeremy Corbyn gets new spin doctor… as Shami Chakrabarti hits out at the media
Liverpool-supporting lobbyist Steve Howell is the latest addition to Team Corbyn.
Jeremy Corbyn has signed up an experienced lobbying agency boss to be his deputy director of strategy and communications.
Steve Howell is said to be taking an indefinite leave of absence from lobbying and PR firm Freshwater to take up the role with the Labour leader.
The move comes seven months after Corbyn’s leadership rival Owen Smith was attacked by allies of the leader over his lobbyist past.
On its website, Freshwater claims it can help firms to “influence decision-makers openly, effectively and ethically - in Westminster and Whitehall, the devolved national governments and assemblies, London’s City Hall and local authorities across the UK”.
Howell confirmed the move on Twitter on Sunday evening, stating that he was looking forward to working with Corbyn to promote “Labour's politics of change”.
The Labour lobbyist and keen Liverpool fan will serve as deputy to Corbyn’s communication’s chief Seumas Milne, helping to oversee the leader’s media strategy and to implement a communications grid.
The hire of a new spin doctor comes as shadow cabinet member Shami Chakrabarti complained about Corbyn’s treatment in the media during an interview with Andrew Marr on Sunday morning.
“Sometimes we haven’t had the fairest or most balanced treatment in the media, including in the broadcast media,” she said.
Challenged by Marr as to why the left “always blames the media”, she added: “I’m not blaming the media. I’m just saying that the disunity has been the focus.”
Baroness Chakrabarti also suggested that explanations for the Copeland by-election defeat could include Labour voters being less likely to have a car, low turnout, Brexit divisions, false claims about Corbyn’s views on nuclear power and party disunity.
As Labour reconsiders its strategy in the wake of the Copeland catastrophe, Corbyn is also said to have hired the Unite veteran Niall Sookoo as his new executive campaign director. The Daily Mirror’s political editor Jack Blanchard said on Twitter that Sookoo had been brought in “to tighten up election messaging”.