Ryan Coetzee switches from Clegg’s Director of Strategy to Lib Dems’ General Election Director of Strategy

by Stephen Tall on August 12, 2014

Ryan+CoetzeeIt’s almost two years since Ryan Coetzee was appointed as Nick Clegg’s director of strategy, replacing Richard Reeves. His experience as a liberal politician and campaigner with South Africa’s Democratic Alliance meant that he was welcomed, even by many of those often sceptical of advisers and their worth.

One of his first actions was to start identifying the Lib Dem ‘market’, those voters who would consider voting for the party. His research, backed up by the party’s first major private polling operation about which I wrote here, has informed much of the national party’s campaigning since, including its “Stronger society, fairer economy” strapline.

However, his publicly funded special adviser role had started to attract some controversy. Labour, for instance, demanded an inquiry into his role (presumably forgetting/ignoring the fact that Alistair Campbell once served as the Government’s director of communications).

At the start of this month, therefore, Ryan switched roles, from the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office to Lib Dem HQ in Great George Street as the party’s General Election Director of Strategy. Here’s how the role was advertised:

To develop and lead the delivery of a strategy that will allow the Liberal Democrats to maximise their success in the 2015 General Election and to come out of the election as a party of government for a historic second time.

Key Responsibilities:
1. To advise and work with the Leader of the Liberal Democrats to determine political strategy.
2. To lead the realisation of the agreed political strategy by providing active and inspirational leadership at every level of the party.

However, as Ryan enters Lib Dem HQ, one long-term staffer exits: as PR Week reported last month, after eight years working for Nick Clegg and the party, Lib Dem director of political comms Tim Snowball has replaced Jo Foster (a former deputy chief of staff to Nick) as head of PHA Media’s political strategy:

Snowball joined Clegg’s parliamentary office in 2006, managing his leadership bid and then heading the leader’s office in opposition. He led his general election tour, was involved in the coalition negotiations and transferred into the new Deputy Prime Minister’s office for the first year of the current Government.

In 2011 he became the first Liberal Democrat staffer in the Government to make a move back to party headquarters, where he was chief of staff and political secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister, and more recently director of political comms.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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