Philippa Stroud given special adviser role

Controversial Tory who failed to win a seat in Sutton will work for Iain Duncan Smith.

It is interesting, if not surprising, to see that Iain Duncan Smith has appointed Philippa Stroud as his special adviser after she failed to win a seat in Sutton and Cheam.

An article in the Observer, published on the Sunday before the polls, accused Stroud of founding a church that attempted to "cure" homosexuals by driving out their demons through prayer. Stroud refutes the claims and legal action is ongoing.

She did not win the seat from Paul Burstow, the incumbent Liberal Democrat MP. Despite a national swing of 5 per cent to the Conservatives, the swing to the Tories in Sutton and Cheam was just 1.5 per cent.

As director of Duncan Smith's hugely influential think tank, the Centre for Social Justice, she has already played a substantial part in forming much of the Conservatives' social policy.

For a woman who was beaten convincingly on 6 May, this represents a pretty decent runner-up prize. Her many detractors may not look upon it as such, however.

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Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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New Digital Editor: Serena Kutchinsky

The New Statesman appoints Serena Kutchinsky as Digital Editor.

Serena Kutchinsky is to join the New Statesman as digital editor in September. She will lead the expansion of the New Statesman across a variety of digital platforms.

Serena has over a decade of experience working in digital media and is currently the digital editor of Newsweek Europe. Since she joined the title, traffic to the website has increased by almost 250 per cent. Previously, Serena was the digital editor of Prospect magazine and also the assistant digital editor of the Sunday Times - part of the team which launched the Sunday Times website and tablet editions.

Jason Cowley, New Statesman editor, said: “Serena joins us at a great time for the New Statesman, and, building on the excellent work of recent years, she has just the skills and experience we need to help lead the next stage of our expansion as a print-digital hybrid.”

Serena Kutchinsky said: “I am delighted to be joining the New Statesman team and to have the opportunity to drive forward its digital strategy. The website is already established as the home of free-thinking journalism online in the UK and I look forward to leading our expansion and growing the global readership of this historic title.

In June, the New Statesman website recorded record traffic figures when more than four million unique users read more than 27 million pages. The circulation of the weekly magazine is growing steadily and now stands at 33,400, the highest it has been since the early 1980s.