Spin doctor wanted, as old guard get Carter

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Indy Politics

Gordon Brown is looking for a "more political" and aggressive chief adviser to fulfil the role that Alastair Campbell performed for Tony Blair, as it emerged that Stephen Carter, the Prime Minister's head of strategy, will move from his post after a "fatal" breakdown of relations within Downing Street.

Mr Brown has floated the idea of appointing Mr Campbell, but the former director of communications for Mr Blair is reluctant to take on the job again, having "got his life back".

Despite official denials, sources last night confirmed a report in The Independent on Sunday that Mr Carter, poached in January from the world of corporate public relations, is to step down from his current role. The Prime Minister wants to draw a line under severe personality clashes between his staff, and turn Labour's fire outwards at the Tories.

Mr Carter and several allies brought in from the PR industry have alienated Mr Brown's "old guard" of political aides, who are more rooted in the Labour party.

Sources say that Mr Carter's political inexperience, "commercial style" and lack of allegiance to Labour angered Mr Brown's parliamentary private secretary, Ian Austin, and the Children's minister, Ed Balls.

Mr Carter's appointments, such as those of Nick Stace, former director of campaigns and communications at Which?, and Jennifer Moses, former director of the lingerie firm Agent Provocateur, brought in unpaid to "spice up" policies, heightened tensions.

Ms Moses – who has supported and donated to the Liberal Democrats – caused "a fatal breakdown of trust" in No 10 by refusing to join the Labour Party, according to sources.

Mr Carter alarmed Labour loyalists with his strategy of appeasing the Tory leader, David Cameron, and the shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, barring ministers from attacking the "Cameroons" on class grounds.

Only one Carter hiring can claim to have bridged the divide between the new appointees and the "old guard": David Muir, the replacement for Mr Brown's long-standing aide, Spencer Livermore, who walked out as director of political strategy in March after Mr Carter was appointed.

Mr Muir is rated highly by Labour figures. Insiders said he was likely to split Mr Carter's responsibilities with Jeremy Heywood, Mr Brown's perm-anent secretary.

"There is a recognition that we have to take on the Tories aggressively," said a No 10 source. "But there is no one as tough and as good as Campbell."

Friends of Mr Carter last night pointed out that he was always set to serve for a limited period of time.