John Harris

Journalist & Author

Lucy Powell, Ed Miliband’s election guru: ‘You’ve just got to get on with the job’

As Labour’s campaign chief, Lucy Powell has a lot on her plate. And it doesn’t help when one of your own side is ‘probably’ out to get you

Lucy Powell has vivid recollections of just about all the general elections of the last 30-odd years, but two in particular stick out. In 1983, when the Labour party led by Michael Foot was all but crushed, she spent polling day with her Labour activist dad, on official party duty in her native south Manchester. “I was nine,” she says. “My Dad gave me a £1 note to sit outside the polling station and collect people’s numbers. He said I was the best polling teller he’d ever had.”

By 1992, when Neil Kinnock had raised his party’s expectations to the point that victory seemed to be within its grasp, she was at sixth-form college, where she stood in the obligatory mock election. “Obviously, I was the Labour candidate,” she says. “And I beat the other main parties, but an independent won it.” She smiles. “It was my first flavour of a Nigel Farage-type figure. He was quite charismatic, as I recall. And he offered all sorts of goodies to the student council.”

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