Scottish party official to be Smith's political fixer

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Indy Politics
MURRAY ELDER, the Scottish Labour Party secretary, is to be John Smith's chef de cabinet after Labour's shadow Chancellor becomes party leader this Saturday, writes Nicholas Timmins.

Mr Elder will run the political fixing side of the job while David Ward, Mr Smith's economics adviser as shadow Chancellor, will run the policy side. The two know each other well, both having been members of the Labour Party in Mortlake in the late 1970s.

Mr Elder is a long-standing friend of Mr Smith's, for whom he worked as political adviser in the early 1980s after a spell with the Bank of England.

He was described yesterday by one Scottish MP who knows him well as 'a great guy; he drinks, he climbs and he's got a new heart'. Another described him as 'hard, but not confrontational.'

A heart transplant patient in 1988, Mr Elder joined Mr Smith in bagging 'Munros' - peaks over 3,000ft - after Mr Smith's heart attack, although the Scottish party secretary has rather more under his belt than Mr Smith.

Of Neil Kinnock's existing staff, only Hilary Coffman, the press and broadcasting officer, is expected to transfer to Mr Smith's staff, with David Hill, the Labour Party's director of campaigns, given an over-arching communications role attempting to turn the leader's office, the party's Walworth Road headquarters and the national executive into a more cohesive unit.

(Photograph omitted)

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