Political strategist and New Labour visionary Philip Gould dies aged 61

To the world Philip Gould, who has died after a battle with cancer at the age of 61, was known as a remarkable political strategist – one of a select few young, aspiring figures who created New Labour, and with it changed the political landscape forever.

Best friends with Alistair Campbell, the longstanding pollster behind Tony Blair’s remarkable ascendency, and close to both the Miliband brothers, it was often said Philip, later Lord Gould, had politics running through his veins.

Mr Gould’s exacting standards drove him to spend long hours at work hosting focus groups and spinning the strategies which came to define politics in the New Labour era.

Yet, to those who caught a glimpse of him at home, his devotion to his wife publisher Gail Rebuck, and daughters Grace and Georgia, was what shone through.

The Kentish Town home they lived in for many years was often filled with the voices of his daughters’ friends from Camden School for Girls, who would congregate in the garden while Mr Gould and his wife would share a coffee with more distinguished guests.

Far from the haughty political figure you might expect from someone whose mere name sent waves of admiration and awe among political circles both sides of the Atlantic, Mr Gould was as happy swapping views with students just beginning to formulate their ideas as he was with the frontbenchers.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mr Gould’s daughter Georgia took up the political mantle, a passion which, like her support for Queen’s Park Rangers football club, she learnt from her father.

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She was elected as Labour councillor for Kentish Town last year.

Born on March 30, 1950, in Beddington, south London, the son of a primary school headteacher, Mr Gould left school at 16 with one O-level.

After a few years on the political demonstration circuit, he returned to school a few years later to sit A Levels and got a degree in politics from Sussex University, where he met Gail, who he married in 1985.

He set up his own consultancy business, Philip Gould Associates, which he began from a spare bedroom at home before landing his first contracts with Peter Mandelson, embarking on what be came his seminal life’s work – making the Labour Party electable again.

His appointment to the peerage as Lord Gould of Brookwood in 2004 was in recognition of this endeavour.

He was told by doctors in 2008 that he had cancer of the oesophagus, a disease which he battled against but returned earlier this year.

In his final days, he spoke movingly about the “intense” experience of living on the verge of death, a period of time which brought him closer still to the family he loved.

He is survived by Gail and their daughters, Georgia and Grace.