Why Labour needs Matthew McGregor – Obama’s “Backroom Brit”

November 24, 2012 6:06 pm

There’s an interesting profile in the Times today of Matthew McGregor (Backroom Brit who ‘swung it for Obama’), which shows the huge part played by Labour member Matthew McGregor in Obama’s re-election. I know Matthew a little and I’m a huge fan of his work. If you look at most of the best online campaigning in British politics now (even after he’s been away for two years), you’ll probably find that he’s been involved in it somewhere.

On the Obama campaign, McGregor was responsible for the digital rapid response unit that attacked Mitt Romney relentlessly, ensuring that any statement by the Republican was picked over and rebutted, often within minutes or hours. My favourite example was this video which was posted soon after Romney’s infamous 47% speech leaked. It’s sheer campaigning brilliance.

But it’s clear that McGregor’s role on the campaign was one with a broad remit. The digital director of the Obama campaign Teddy Goff told the Times:

“Every video, everything we did on Twitter, every e-mail had his fingerprints on it.”

Clearly the Labour Party could do with someone with McGregor’s experience and skills. I’ve said before that a big beast might be needed to beef up Labour’s online output. Matthew McGregor could perhaps be that person. He’s close to General Secretary Iain McNicol, and also Jon Cruddas (whose Deputy Leadership campaign he ran back in 2007). The Times reports that McGregor will be having a curry with McNicol at Christmas (as well as, somewhat laughably, suggesting that he might work for the Tories). I’m planning to meet up with him too, and I hope that hope McNicol, Cruddas and others will be telling him the same thing I will be – the Labour Party needs you.

There aren’t many people in British politics who can do what McGregor has shown such an aptitude for. As senior Obama aide David Axelrod has said:

“When you talk about rapid response it has to be rapid, but it also has to be pointed. Matthew has got that edge to him.”

That’a an edge that Labour’s online campaigning could do with, but it doesn’t come cheap. The Obama campaign had 130 members of staff on their digital team. The Labour Party will obviously never get anywhere near that, but it needs to scale up from the small handful of talented but poorly resourced individuals who run the party’s online operation today.

Hiring McGregor would be a good place for Labour to start.

  • http://twitter.com/waterwards dave stone

    If his work for Blue State Digital is anything to go by, Matthew would be a priceless asset for Labour.

    http://www.bluestatedigital.com/blog/entry/meet-bsd-questions-with-matthew-mcgregor/

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671176264 facebook-671176264

    I wonder if he’s in favour of Scottish independence?

  • Daniel Speight

    Didn’t you call for Alistair Campbell to be given this job Mark? Just asking;-)

  • Daniel Speight

    Didn’t you call for Alistair Campbell to be given this job Mark? Just asking;-)

  • markfergusonuk

    Why do you ask?

Latest

  • Comment Change starts now

    Change starts now

    The outcome of the Scottish referendum answers decisively the question on independence. But the issues unleashed and feelings exposed in the campaign will mean further important action for Labour, action to address the economic disaffection and political alienation which was laid bare on the doorsteps in Glasgow just as they are in towns across England. While we campaigned for a No vote, too many of the poorest, most deprived, who we are in politics to empower and to represent, voted […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Miliband calls for UK Constitutional Convention – and the whole country will have a say, not just politicians

    Miliband calls for UK Constitutional Convention – and the whole country will have a say, not just politicians

    This morning David Cameron called for a rushed through, Westminster-based, top-down, politician-led approach to solving the questions around UK-wide devolution. I wasn’t impressed. I said that: This is an unprecedented chance to extend similar powers down from the centre to the whole of the UK. The Labour Party – in every corner of this land – has an important role to play in the renewal of our society and democracy that must take place. We must end top down Westminster […]

    Read more →
  • News Make this Conference about the NHS, LabourList readers tell Miliband

    Make this Conference about the NHS, LabourList readers tell Miliband

      Ed Miliband should make the NHS the focus of his Labour Conference speech, say LabourList readers. 52% said that setting out Labour’s offer on the health service should be the central offer of Miliband’s address to delegates on Tuesday. It has been rumoured that Labour will attempt to make the NHS the defining issue of the 2015 election, and a poll earlier this week suggested it was the only “big” issue that we hold a lead on, beating the […]

    Read more →
  • News Video “Our country only works for a tiny elite few at the top, and this Labour Party knows that must change” – Miliband responds to the referendum result

    “Our country only works for a tiny elite few at the top, and this Labour Party knows that must change” – Miliband responds to the referendum result

    This morning, Ed Miliband gave a speech, following on from Johann Lamont and Alistair Darling, in which he responded to the results of the referendum. He clearly emphasised that although Scotland voted to remain part of the UK, this was the beginning of massive change across the country: “this was a vote for change. change doesn’t end today. Change begins today…devolution is not just a good idea for Scotland and Wales, it is a good idea for England and indeed Northern […]

    Read more →
  • Comment The English question must now be settled too

    The English question must now be settled too

    So it’s a No. But the process of constitutional change is only just beginning. While it is not yet clear precisely what additional powers on tax, spending and welfare, the Scottish Parliament will get, the binding pledge of the main Westminster party leaders will have to be honoured. But in the process, the English question must be settled too. The first, curmudgeonly, reactions of predominantly Tory MPs has been to complain about Scotland’s special treatment. Before too long, resentment will […]

    Read more →