Feature: Nick Clegg's election team


Who are the new faces hired by Nick Clegg to take him into the general election?

By Liz Stephens

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has announced his team for the general election next year.

The team contains several PR and communications heavy-hitters. With the party's usual elections chief Lord Rennard stepping down, Mr Clegg has seized the opportunity for an overhaul of the team in preparation for the next election.

Lord Rennard was credited with masterminding the party's recent by-election victories. He announced in May he would be stepping down at the end of the summer. He has been replaced by party stalwart Chris Fox as interim chief executive.

Former media chief Jonny Oates will return to the party to lead the communications team. He famously joined the party in 2007 and then left only a year later to return to his old employer, Bell Pottinger.

Former Saatchi and Saatchi managing director John Sharkey will chair the campaign. He was brought in by Mr Clegg as a communications adviser last year. Mr Sharkey helped run the advertising campaign for Margaret Thatcher's 1987 election win.

Mr Clegg said: "As the general election approaches, it's clear that Labour's time is up and the Conservatives simply think it's their turn. But this election demands something different. We need a fresh start to fix the unprecedented problems the country now faces. I am convinced our general election team announced today will deliver a successful and winning campaign."

Find the team below, along with what Clegg said about them:

Jonny Oates - director of general election communications

"Jonny will lead communications strategy, planning and delivery and will report to the chief executive."

Mr Oates was the party's director of policy and communications for only 15 months from 2007 before being lured away by his previous company Bell Pottinger last year with a specially created role of strategic media director.

He will return to the Liberal Democrats on November 1st to oversee the party's media strategy for the upcoming general election but has declared that he only intends to stay until two months after the election.

John Sharkey - campaign chair

"John's extensive experience managing major communications businesses combined with Andrew's campaigning expertise will be a formidable combination steering the campaign."

John Sharkey is a former joint managing director of Saatchi and Saatchi. While there, he had special responsibility for the Turkish government's preparation of its case for entry into the European Union, as well as the Mrs Thatcher's successful election campaign in 1987.

He is honorary treasurer of the Hansard Society, non-executive chairman of airport advertising firm Ad-Air and chairman of management consultancy Sharkey Associates.

Last year he was behind a controversial decision to cold call 250,000 in a single night with a recorded message from Nick Clegg.

Andrew Stunnell - campaign vice chair

"John's extensive experience managing major communications businesses combined with Andrew's campaigning expertise will be a formidable combination steering the campaign."

Mr Stunnell has been the Liberal Democrat MP for Hazel Grove since 1997 and is a former Baptist lay preacher.

He was Liberal Democrat energy spokesperson from 1998- May 2005, deputy chief whip 1997-2001, and chief whip in 2001-2006. He chaired the local elections campaign team in 2007, and currently sits on the international development select committee.

Chris Fox - interim chief executive

"Chris Fox, will lead on strategy and the air war and head up the executive team."

Chris Fox became director of policy and communications after the departure of Jonny Oates.

Mr Fox previously spent 20 years leading communications in various FTSE100 companies, including engineering firm Smiths Group and Tate and Lyle plc.

Chris stood as Liberal Democrat candidate for Windsor in 1997. He was chair of the advisory board of Liberal Future, the market liberal think tank until it wound up in 2005.

Hilary Stephenson - campaigns and elections director

"Campaigns and elections director, Hilary Stephenson, will lead the ground war."

Danny Alexander - Chief of Staff

"Danny Alexander MP, my chief-of-staff, will play a key role in the campaign team responsible for manifesto development."


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