The Prime Minister’s departing Director of Political Strategy was not forced out of Downing St and he expects to remain close to Gordon Brown, PinkNews.co.uk has learned.
It was revealed earlier today that Spencer Livermore is to leave the government this week.
Downing St sources said he still expects to play a key role in the next election campaign.
Livermore is said to be excited about his new role as Senior Strategist at Saatchi Saatchi and Fallon, a leading consultancy and advertising company, but those close to him admit it will be a massive change for him after more than a decade with Gordon Brown.
Having worked for the Prime Minister for that long, their relationship won’t end, say friends.
Livermore is expected to remain in regular phone and email contact.
Downing St insiders added that Gordon Brown has been working hard for the last couple of weeks to try to persuade him not to leave.
Livermore, 32, was named as the most powerful gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans person in British politics by PinkNews.co.uk in December.
He became active in the Labour party in 1994, and by the 1997 election, less than a year after graduating from LSE, he was working for the party’s Economic Secretariat.
In 1998 he became a Special Adviser at the Treasury and his close relationship with the Prime Minister began.
Brown, the arch-strategist, asked his young apprentice to take up the post of Head of Research for the 2001 election campaign, when Labour held on to all but a handful of seats.
He was then appointed Special Adviser to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
By 2005, he was Gordon Brown’s most senior adviser and in charge of strategy.
Livermore is said to have been thinking about leaving the Prime Minister’s service for a while.
One friend told PinkNews.co.uk:
“Getting into Number 10 was such a milestone in his career and he wanted to achieve that, but he didn’t want to follow the Ed Balls and Ed Miliband route and become an MP, so there had to come a time when he decided to leave.”
While many reports have claimed that Stephen Carter’s appointment to Downing St overseeing strategy had undermined him, those who work with both of them have dismissed reports of a bad relationship.
Carter is known to have offered Livermore a job last year at Brunswick, but he didn’t want to leave the government at that time, or to work at Brunswick.
“Carter clearly respected him enough to offer him a job, before Gordon Brown had even heard of him (Carter),” a source close to both men told PinkNews.co.uk.
Friends of Spencer Livermore deny Carter pushed him out.
He has reportedly been considering moving for three months, before Carter was even appointed, and wanted to find the right role.
Newspaper reports that he was blamed for the election that never was, and that Gordon Brown reduced him to tears over it, have also been flatly denied.
He is known to have remarked to friends at the time:
“If I cried every time he shouted at me I wouldn’t have got much work done.”
Livermore reportedly still thinks Labour would have won an early election, stands by the advice he gave at the time, and is confident that a 2009 or 2010 election is still winnable.
His new role at Saatchi means he will remain intimately involved with planning for that election, as the company hold the Labour party advertising account.
Livermore will also be working across Saatchi and Fallon on a range of private sector clients with the job title of Senior Strategist, the first time he has worked outside of the government or the Labour party.
He will leave Downing St this week, and will take up his new role in May.
The Prime Minister today paid tribute to Livermore.
“Spencer has made a huge contribution for the past ten years,” he said.
“I am extremely grateful to him for the work he has done, playing a major part in devising and implementing many of the successful policies at the Treasury, particularly in relation to employment and welfare-to-work policies.
“He played a central role in twice ensuring the re-election of a Labour government.
“I regret his decision to leave Downing Street, but I know that he will continue to play a major role with his new company in helping Labour to a fourth term in government.”
Given his closeness to the Prime Minister, his well-documented ability to read the minds of swing voters and his new role at the heart of a company entrusted with the Labour party’s advertising, it is certain that Spencer Livermore will continue to be one of the most influential people in the British political landscape.
Read PinkNews.co.uk’s profile of Spencer Livermore here.