Philip Gould, Baron Gould of Brookwood

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The Lord Gould of Brookwood
Born(1950-03-30)30 March 1950
Died6 November 2011(2011-11-06) (aged 61)
EducationEast London College
Alma mater
OccupationPolitical consultant
(m. 1985)
Children2, including Georgia

Philip Gould, Baron Gould of Brookwood (30 March 1950 – 6 November 2011[1][2]) was a British political consultant, and former advertising executive, who worked for the Labour Party.

Appointed by Director of Communications Peter Mandelson, he was strategy and polling adviser to the Labour Party in the general elections of 1987, 1992, 1997, 2001 and 2005.[3] Involved in 'modernising' the party's image, Gould was particularly associated with Tony Blair and New Labour.

Early life and education[edit]

Gould grew up in Woking, his father was a headmaster, but failed his 11-plus and went to a secondary modern school.[1][4] Leaving school with only one O-level, he went on to study at East London College, based in Toynbee Hall, where he gained four A-levels.[1] He subsequently won a place at the University of Sussex in 1971 to study politics, graduating in 1974.[4]

Gould went to the London School of Economics (LSE) to study for an MSc in the history of political thought, where he was taught by the political scientist Michael Oakeshott. Later he returned to the LSE to teach a course in Modern Campaigning Politics.[5]


After a career in advertising, and with the success of his wife Gail Rebuck (later CEO of Random House UK), whom he had met at Sussex, Gould founded his own polling and strategy company, Philip Gould Associates, in 1985. Appointed by Mandelson, Gould recruited the Shadow Communications Agency, a team of communications volunteers who created Labour's unsuccessful 1987 election campaign. This led to his position of influence within the Labour Party under Neil Kinnock and Tony Blair.[6]

In 1992, he planned the Sheffield Rally for the Labour Party,[4] eight days before its loss of the 1992 general election.

Gould was the author of a leaked memo which, in 2000, described the New Labour brand as being contaminated.[7]

On 7 June 2004 he was created a life peer taking the title Baron Gould of Brookwood, of Brookwood in the County of Surrey.[8][9]

In 2007, he assumed a non-executive director role at Freud Communications,[10] the firm of Blair's former diary secretary, Kate Garvey.[11]


Gould's grave in the western end of East Highgate Cemetery

Preceding an interview with Andrew Marr on a Sunday morning BBC TV show, 18 September 2011, it was revealed that his treatment for three-times recurring cancer of the oesophagus had been unsuccessful. After being told by his doctor that he only had three months to live, Gould described himself as being in the "death zone":

This time it was clear. I was, you know... I was in a different place, a death zone, where there was such an intensity, such a power. And apparently this is normal. And so, even though obviously I'd, you know, rather not be in this position, it is the most extraordinary time of my life, certainly the most important time of my life.[12]

Gould then turned his impending death into a campaign as a way of making his departure easier for his wife and daughters as well as helping others by writing and talking about facing up to death.[13] His efforts resulted in an eight–minute film entitled, When I Die: Lessons from the Death Zone,[14] a documentary of Gould's final weeks of life that was released on the video–sharing website YouTube before the release of his book by the same name.[15]


Gould died on 6 November 2011 at Royal Marsden Hospital,[16] a specialist cancer treatment hospital in London.

It was stated that proceeds from his 2012 book, When I Die: Lessons from the Death Zone, would go to the National Oesophago–Gastric Cancer Fund and the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.[15] Before he died, Gould stated that he would be cremated and his urn interred at Highgate Cemetery.[17]


  • Gould, Philip (1999). The Unfinished Revolution: How the Modernisers Saved the Labour Party Abacus, ISBN 0-349-11177-4
  • Gould, Philip (2012). When I Die: Lessons from the Death Zone Little Brown, ISBN 978-1-4087-0398-4



Coat of arms of Philip Gould, Baron Gould of Brookwood
Coronet of a Baron
A Badger sejant erect Azure head and chest Argent eyes striped Azure gorged with a plain Collar studded Or and grasping in the dexter forepaw a Quill palewise

Argent spined Or

Azure on a Bend nowy lozengy per bend Argent and Or a Bendlet Azure
On either side a Badger Azure the head and chest Argent eyes striped Azure gorged with a plain Collar studded Or and holding in the mouth a Rose Gules barbed seeded slipped and leaved Or
A Roundel set with ten Acorns leaved Or and charged with a Badger's Face Argent eyes striped Azure
The Arms reflect the grantee's wish for simplicity as well as suggesting a graph or opinion poll. The roses refer to the grantee's part in the choice of the red rose as the emblem of the Labour party. The badgers and acorns are an obvious pun on Brookwood.


  1. ^ a b c Price, Lance (7 November 2011). "Lord Gould of Brookwood obituary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
  2. ^ The Sunday Times Magazine, The Sunday Times, 18 December 2011, page 64
  3. ^ "Labour peer Philip Gould has died aged 61", BBC News, 7 November 2011.
  4. ^ a b c "Obituary: "Lord Gould of Brookwood"". The Daily Telegraph. 7 November 2011. Archived from the original on 12 November 2011.
  5. ^ Bennett, Cath. "Philip, Baron Gould of Brookwood - Who's Who - Department of Media and Communications". Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  6. ^ Alex May. "Gould, Philip, Baron Gould of Brookwood (1950–2011)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/104345. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  7. ^ "UK POLITICS | New memo leak hits Blair". BBC News. 19 July 2000. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  8. ^ "No. 57334". The London Gazette. 22 June 2004. p. 7754.
  9. ^ Introduction in the House of Lords House of Lords minutes of proceedings, 19 July 2004
  10. ^ Philip Gould takes Freuds position, PR Week, 17 January 2007, by Hannah Marriott.
  11. ^ Harris, John (13 November 2008). "Inside the court of London's golden couple". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  12. ^ Hall, Richard (19 September 2011). "Leading Labour strategist given three months to live". The Independent. London, UK. p. 24. Archived from the original on 26 May 2022. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
  13. ^ Campbell, Alastair (8 November 2011). "Philip Gould: He was the ultimate team builder, a healer. Nobody in politics listened as well as Philip". The Guardian. London, UK. p. 17. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
  14. ^ Steirn, Adrian (Director) (18 April 2012). When I Die: Lessons from the Death Zone (Video). London, England: YouTube.
  15. ^ a b "Dying peer's 'ecstasy' in his final months". 19 April 2012. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
  16. ^ "Labour peer Philip Gould dies of cancer aged 61". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. 7 November 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
  17. ^ Gould, Georgia (6 February 2019). "Like Marx, my dad chose Highgate for his grave - let's protect its free spirit". Evening Standard. p. 25. Retrieved 21 October 2023.

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