CLOSE-UP: CLIENT OF THE WEEK; Scholar with thirst for power

Alison Holmes will have to use her Lib Dems budget carefully.

Alison Holmes will have to use her Lib Dems budget carefully.

Alison Holmes, the Liberal Democrats’ planning manager, wishes she could

get her hands on a proper budget. ‘If we had a six-figure sum to spend

at the next election, I’d be over the moon. The Tories get loads of

invisible support from huge corporations,’ the fast-talking American


But however little the party can muster, she’s determined to spend it

wisely. ‘We have to be very resourceful with our two-and-a-half pence,’

she laughs.

Last week, Knight Leach Delaney was declared the recipient of that tidy

sum (Campaign, 15 March). Previous work, such as a campaign for Mates

condoms, had impressed Holmes and the Lib Dems’ general election team.

‘Stuart Leach [KLD’s managing director] has already shown he is very

good at adapting an idea across lots of different media using things

such as postcards and puzzles,’ Holmes explains. ‘A political campaign

is not just about TV.’

The decision was made easier by Leach’s support for the party. After

many years’ involvement, he became a key member of the party’s

advertising advice committee when it was set up last September.

Holmes, 31, comes from a family of fervent Democrats; both she and her

two brothers have campaigned for the party cause.

Since she moved to the UK in 1988, Holmes has worked across a number of

portfolios for the Lib Dems - as a researcher on Irish affairs for David

Alton and then for Paddy Ashdown. During the last election she was the

principal support for the party’s communications chief, Des Wilson.

Holmes has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. She has topped up her

US masters degree in social policy with an international relations

diploma from the London School of Economics. She is now researching a

PhD looking at the conflict in Northern Ireland.

But has this feisty American any desire to become an MP herself? ‘It’s

very difficult for a foreigner - although Brian Gould did it. At the

moment, it’s enough for me to be involved in the campaign. But perhaps

I’m just waiting for someone to ask.’