Labour appoints Patrick Hennessy as deputy director of communications

The party says the Sunday Telegraph's political editor will "sharpen Labour’s attack stories, improve message discipline and ensure the party delivers a 24-hour news cycle."

Just in time for its conference, Labour has announced the appointment of the Sunday Telegraph's political editor Patrick Hennessy as its deputy director of communications.

The latest addition to Team Miliband, will work alongside director of communications Bob Roberts, the former political editor of the Daily Mirror.

The party said: "In his new role, Patrick will direct, shape and lead the daily media output of the Labour Party. He will sharpen Labour’s attack stories, improve message discipline and ensure the party delivers a 24-hour news cycle."

Ed Miliband said: "I am delighted to welcome Paddy to the Labour Party as our new Deputy Director of Communications. His experience working at a range of national newspapers will add significant expertise to the Labour Party’s communications team. I’m looking forward to working with him."

Hennessy said: "I am sad to be leaving the Sunday Telegraph after nine great years but this is an exciting new challenge. After nearly 30 years working in newspapers, it's a big move but a simple task: to help Labour win the general election. I’m delighted to be joining."

Ed Miliband speaks at the TUC conference at the Bournemouth International Centre on September 10, 2013. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Tom Watson rouses Labour's conference as he comes out fighting

The party's deputy leader exhilarated delegates with his paean to the Blair and Brown years. 

Tom Watson is down but not out. After Jeremy Corbyn's second landslide victory, and weeks of threats against his position, Labour's deputy leader could have played it safe. Instead, he came out fighting. 

With Corbyn seated directly behind him, he declared: "I don't know why we've been focusing on what was wrong with the Blair and Brown governments for the last six years. But trashing our record is not the way to enhance our brand. We won't win elections like that! And we need to win elections!" As Watson won a standing ovation from the hall and the platform, the Labour leader remained motionless. When a heckler interjected, Watson riposted: "Jeremy, I don't think she got the unity memo." Labour delegates, many of whom hail from the pre-Corbyn era, lapped it up.

Though he warned against another challenge to the leader ("we can't afford to keep doing this"), he offered a starkly different account of the party's past and its future. He reaffirmed Labour's commitment to Nato ("a socialist construct"), with Corbyn left isolated as the platform applauded. The only reference to the leader came when Watson recalled his recent PMQs victory over grammar schools. There were dissenting voices (Watson was heckled as he praised Sadiq Khan for winning an election: "Just like Jeremy Corbyn!"). But one would never have guessed that this was the party which had just re-elected Corbyn. 

There was much more to Watson's speech than this: a fine comic riff on "Saturday's result" (Ed Balls on Strictly), a spirited attack on Theresa May's "ducking and diving; humming and hahing" and a cerebral account of the automation revolution. But it was his paean to Labour history that roused the conference as no other speaker has. 

The party's deputy channelled the spirit of both Hugh Gaitskell ("fight, and fight, and fight again to save the party we love") and his mentor Gordon Brown (emulating his trademark rollcall of New Labour achivements). With his voice cracking, Watson recalled when "from the sunny uplands of increasing prosperity social democratic government started to feel normal to the people of Britain". For Labour, a party that has never been further from power in recent decades, that truly was another age. But for a brief moment, Watson's tubthumper allowed Corbyn's vanquished opponents to relive it. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.