Lib Dem Brexit campaign chief to be Jo Swinson’s chief of staff

Today has been pretty much perfect.

I am in my favourite place in the world, the weather is glorious, I had almost eight uninterrupted hours of sleep for the first time in a long time and the local shop had in stock Lotus Biscoff biscuits just when I had a craving for them. There is a chicken roasting in the oven and some very nice gin waiting for me when I get back from our evening beach walk.

I thought it couldn’t really get much better and then I heard who Jo Swinson had appointed as her Chief of Staff.

Rhiannon Leaman, as the Liberal Democrats’ Head of National campaigns was responsible for our Stop Brexit campaign. And that’s seen us almost triple our opinion poll ratings in the last few months. She has had various campaigning roles in the party over the last few years and she knows it backwards. She has the keenest of political instincts.  She has a brilliant combination of skills to bring to the role. And I can also imagine that she will be good at  what every good Chief of Staff needs to do – tell the boss “No” from time to time. No matter how good they are, they all need that.

Rhiannon started out in politics working for Argyll and Bute MP Alan Reid in the days before we were in government. You could not imagine two more different people to work for than Alan and Jo, I have to say.

As an aside, Alan has had a role in developing some very talented people in the party. Willie Rennie’s political “parents” when he was a student in Paisley were Alan and Cllr Eileen McCartin.  Back in 1989, they fought a brilliant campaign in a Council by-election that gave Labour a fright – they came so close to winning.

Jo has an outstandingly strong team around her. Her Senior Adviser, Sara Mosavi, is promoted to Head of Office. She will lead on things like policy development.

It has already been announced that her press secretary will be Ben Rathe who worked in the party’s media operation during the years we were in government. More recently, he played an absolute blinder for her in the run-up to and during her leadership campaign. 

His political instincts are pretty much spot on – even if he didn’t quite account for the shenanigans of Michael Gove in this piece he wrote in March 2016 on his blog, The Gripes of Rathe. Before he deletes it now I’ve reminded everyone of it, you might like to remind yourself how he learned to make sure that the venues he chooses for photo opportunities don’t have a questionable history.

Jo’s team is both young and incredibly experienced in up to the minute campaigning techniques and messaging. They are wise enough to know when to take risks and won’t be shy about doing so.

The next few months are going to be terrifying. Jo Swinson has a huge role to play in trying to stop Boris Johnson and his ultra right-wing government from driving the country off a cliff in just a few weeks’ time.

We can be confident that she has appointed a strong team with the skills to make sure that we are a big part of the story as it unfolds.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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2 Comments

  • Rhiannon has also worked for The Ramblers Association and for Save the Children. She’s a fantastic choice!

  • Neil Fawcett 20th Aug '19 - 11:15pm

    This is great news.

    Rhiannon is hugely talented and a fantastic choice for this job.

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