John McTernan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the Australian actor, see John McTernan (actor).

John McTernan (born in 1959, London) is a British Labour Party political adviser, political strategist and commentator.

McTernan speaking at Policy Exchange, November 2014

He was the director of communications for the Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, from September 2011 to June 2013.[1]

Early life[edit]

McTernan was born in London, although grew up in Edinburgh, attending Firrhill High School. McTernan attended the University of Edinburgh, where he studied English.[2]


He was Chief Librarian of the Labour Party from 1987 to 1992.

1997–1998: Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for Social Security, Harriet Harman.

2000–2001, he was a special adviser as Head of Policy to the First Minister Henry McLeish of the Scottish Executive.

He was a columnist and editorial writer for the Scotland on Sunday newspaper from 2002 to 2004, and worked for three months as a policy consultant to James Boyle at the Scottish Arts Council in 2002.

From 2004 to 2005 he was a special adviser in Tony Blair's Prime Minister's Office No. 10 Policy Unit responsible for housing and regeneration policy.

He was Political Secretary/Director of Political Operations at 10 Downing Street for Tony Blair[3] from 2005–2007, where he provided political management and support for the development of the government's political strategy.

In 2007 McTernan was seconded to the Scottish Labour Party to run its campaign for the May Scottish Parliament general election.[4][5][6] The Scottish Labour Party lost power.

In 2007 he worked on the November 2007 Australian Labor Party general election campaign.[3]

2007–2008, Special Adviser to Des Browne, Secretary of State for Scotland[7]

He was special adviser to Jim Murphy MP, the Secretary of State for Scotland from 2008 until May 2010.

In September 2011, he was appointed as communications director to the Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard.[8]


Cash for Honours[edit]

During the 2006–07 police investigation into the Cash for Honours political scandal surrounding the Labour Party, John McTernan was twice questioned, under caution, by the Metropolitan Police.[9][5][10] However, no criminal charges were ever brought against McTernan or any other individuals involved.

Racist Scotland email[edit]

In January 2008, while he was employed as a special adviser to the Secretary of State for Scotland, it emerged that in 2002 McTernan had branded Scotland as being "narrow" and "racist" during the period he worked for the Scottish Arts Council. In an email to the then Labour MSP Karen Gillon, who was about to make a trip to Sweden, McTernan wrote “If you’ve not been to Sweden before, I think you’ll really like it – it’s the country Scotland would be if it wasn’t narrow, Presbyterian, racist etc. etc. Social democracy in action.”[11] The email was obtained by the The Sunday Times under freedom of information legislation.[12][13]

Australian government media adviser[edit]

During 2012–13, while McTernan was director of communications to the Australian prime minister,Julia Gillard, a political scandal erupted over his employment. Accusations were made that Gillard had not attempted to find a suitable Australian candidate for the director of communications post, but had flouted Australia's visa process to employ John McTernan, a British citizen, on a 457 visa - a foreign workers scheme which is designed for employers who cannot find local candidates to fill jobs.[14] When a reporter from Australia's ABC News asked McTernan if he was working in Australia on a 457 Visa, he replied "hardly fucking relevant".[15][16]


  1. ^ Totaro, Paola (2012-05-06). "Julia's master of spin". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "John McTernan". London. The Guardian. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  4. ^ "Honours probe quiz for No 10 aide", BBC News Scotland, 24 January 2007
  5. ^ a b "Blair aide sent to stem SNP tide", The Scotsman, 16 January 2007
  6. ^ "Now Holyrood election chief quizzed in peerages inquiry", The Scotsman, 24 January 2007
  7. ^ Swanson, Ian. "John McTernan tipped for Alistair Darling seat bid". Edinburgh News at the Daily Scotsman. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  8. ^ Stratton, Allegra (2011-09-28). "Allegra Stratton's conference diary: Ed and Ed learn tough lessons from Blair and Brown". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  9. ^ "Honours probe quiz for No 10 aide", BBC News Scotland, 24 January 2007
  10. ^ "Now Holyrood election chief quizzed in peerages inquiry", The Scotsman, 24 January 2007
  11. ^ "Des Browne aide: Scotland is narrow, Presbyterian and racist". The Scotsman (Edinburgh). 20 January 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  12. ^ "Labour aide brands Scotland as racist". The Australian (Surry Hills). 20 January 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  13. ^ "Row over insulting email". The Herald (Glasgow). 19 January 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  14. ^ "457 visa worker in PM office". The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney). 30 May 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  15. ^ "No trace of 457 evidence found". The Australian (Surry Hills). 3 August 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  16. ^ "Coalition takes aim at Gillard staffer on 457 visa", ABC News, 5 March 2013

External links[edit]