Downing Street hires Tory election chiefs to decide coronavirus messaging

PUBLISHED: 09:50 30 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:04 30 March 2020

PR chief Isaac Levido with Boris Johnson. Photograph: Twitter.

PR chief Isaac Levido with Boris Johnson. Photograph: Twitter.

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The man credited with winning the general election for the Tories has been hired to oversee messaging from Downing Street during the coronavirus outbreak.

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Isaac Levido was the name people were chanting to the tune of “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” on election night after he was drafted in to run the election campaign in November when Dominic Cummings took a ackseat.

“He’s 100 times better at running campaigns than me”, Cummings is said to have told staffers when he helped make the hiring.

Australian Levido has been working as Lynton Crosby’s deputy, and the pair worked together on the 2015 and 2017 general elections, as well as Zac Goldsmith’s failed mayoral bid, but is mostly known for putting Cummings’ “get Brexit done” message at the heart of the election campaign.

He worked with Australia’s Liberal Party to win the election earlier in the year, and in recent weeks has helped ensure the “stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives” messaging is continually repeated by government.

It is a more substantial and effective message than Cummings’ attempts which included “stay at home” and “wash your hands”.

He is joined by Ben Guerin, a social media expert from New Zealand, who was responsible for the Tories’ general election social media strategy.

A senior ally of Johnson told The Times: “[Levido] is a specialist in message discipline and the power of messages. He’s trying to build a wall of noise around our core message. This is a campaign.

“In an election you’re trying to campaign to change behaviour and get people to vote a certain way, this is trying to change behaviour to save lives. They have gripped the comms.’


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A Tory source told the newspaper: “Isaac showed real leadership throughout the campaign – he never panicked, lifted spirits on difficult days and had a laser focus on the end result.

“He quickly gained the trust of everyone around him and deserves all the plaudits for an extremely well-run and disciplined campaign.’

No 10 played down any link between Levido’s involvement and Dominic Cummings self-isolating over coronavirus, despite reports he had been lined up to join the team if the adviser got ill.

“I’m not sure of a link between the two but Isaac has been working with us in Number 10 for the past week on the coronavirus response,” said the PM’s spokesman.

“The two things aren’t related. He is working on all aspects of the response.”

The spokesman said a “number of people as contractors” had been brought in to Downing Street to “bolster” the government’s efforts in dealing with the crisis.

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