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David Axelrod: victory for Miliband will "send a message around the world"

What the Obama strategist told Labour during his visit to London. 

What the Obama strategist told Labour during his time in London.
David Axelrod attends a Gala Benefit For Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago on April 20, 2012. Photograph: Getty Images.

Labour's star signing David Axelrod has been in Westminster this week for his first face-to-face meetings with Ed Miliband on the role he will play in the party's general election campaign. Claims that the former Obama strategist will give Miliband a "makeover" are, I'm told, wide of the mark. A Labour source said: "You don't hire David Axelrod to tell you what colour tie to wear." 

Instead, his discussions with Labour have focused on strategy, polling and messaging. After a one-on-one meeting with Miliband yesterday, he met with other senior shadow cabinet members, including Harriet Harman, Ed Balls, Douglas Alexander, Michael Dugher, Sadiq Khan, Jon Cruddas and Yvette Cooper. He later had dinner with Miliband and his wife at their home accompanied by fellow Obama staffer Larry Grisolano. 

After a meeting this morning with the full shadow cabinet, he held further talks on digital and field operations followed by a Q&A with Labour staff at Brewer's Green. 

He told the party that victory for Ed Miliband in 2015 "would send a message around the world" and that was why he was "proud to have been asked" to do the job. He added: "There is a lot of alienation and anger among voters because of how the economy is working...We need to offer solutions."

Noting that he could earn far more working elsewhere, he said he was attracted to Miliband as a progressive radical who understood the need to break with "trickle-down economics" in order to restore the link between the growth of national economies and of family finances. "People are working harder and getting nowhere," he told the shadow cabinet. 

The Democrats and Labour have "different visions" to their opponents, he emphasised, and, for this reason, 2015 would be a "big, important election". Axelrod, it is clear, would not be here if he did not believe Miliband could win it.