The reshuffle of Keir Starmer’s top team has made further progress today with the announcement that chief of staff Morgan McSweeney is being appointed Labour’s new elections chief in the party headquarters.
McSweeney, the 44-year-old political strategist who has worked for the Labour Party for 20 years and ran Starmer’s leadership election campaign last year, will start as elections director for the party from September.
He will be replaced as chief of staff in the leader’s office by Sam White, a 46-year-old former Treasury special adviser who worked for Alistair Darling during the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown administrations from 2004 to 2010.
Commenting on the changes, Starmer said: “I’m pleased to be able to announce the latest changes to the team as we prepare for the next election.
“Morgan brings great election experience and strategic judgement to the election coordinator role and he will ensure that we are running a modern, efficient, winning campaign at the next election.
“I’ve worked with Sam before. I know he brings great experience from both inside and outside government to running my office as we take our message out to the country at conference and beyond.”
The move comes after Carolyn Harris resigned as Starmer’s parliamentary private secretary in May, while Jenny Chapman was moved last month from her role as director of politics to shadow Brexit minister in the House of Lords.
Director of communications Ben Nunn also recently stepped down altogether, as did deputy director Paul Ovenden who is expected to return part-time soon. Nunn was replaced on an interim basis by Matthew Doyle.
Doyle, who was a special adviser to Blair as Prime Minister and worked for him after he left office, is thought to be interested in taking on the communications director role permanently, but it is understood that a full hiring process will take place.
McSweeney will work with new national campaign coordinator Shabana Mahmood MP, who worked on the Labour Together 2019 election review as a commissioner. McSweeney used to be director of Labour Together.
Speaking to LabourList, one Labour official described McSweeney’s appointment as a “bit awkward” as there is already an executive director of elections and a director of elections in the Labour Party.
It is understood by LabourList that McSweeney will be different to theirs, partly because he will be working to Starmer and will split his time between the leader’s office and Southside, the party HQ.
As an adviser, White supported the Labour leader’s transition into office last year and ran his Covid strategy through to August. McSweeney will stay in his current post until White starts in the leader’s office in September.
Starmer’s new chief of staff was the longest-serving of Darling’s advisers at the Treasury and helped navigate government policy during the global financial crisis. He also worked at the transport and trade departments.