By Michael Holden
LONDON, April 18 (Reuters) - Britain's Labour Party has hired David Axelrod, the U.S. strategist who helped President Barack Obama win two presidential terms, to help with its campaign for the 2015 election, the opposition party said on Friday.
Axelrod plans to replicate tactics he used in the Obama campaigns in 2008 and 2012 to win Britons over to Labour and its leader Ed Miliband, focusing on the wealth gap and the "squeezed middle".
Opinion polls point to a Labour victory next May, albeit with a slim parliamentary majority, although surveys also indicate Britons are sceptical of Miliband's leadership skills and the party's economic competence.
Prime Minister David Cameron hopes an expected full-scale recovery in Britain will translate into poll success next year while Miliband argues that most Britons are still facing a cost of living crisis.
"We can't just have prosperity hoarded by a few where people at the top are getting wealthier and wealthier but people in the middle are getting squeezed," Axelrod said in a statement.
"That is how we won in the U.S., Barack Obama articulated a vision which had, at its core, the experience of everyday people. And everyday people responded, they organised and they overcame the odds. I see the same thing happening in Britain."
Centre-left Labour lost power in 2010 when Cameron's Conservatives formed a coalition government with the smaller Liberal Democratic Party.
His government brought in deep spending cuts as part of austerity measures which it argued was necessary to repair the damage caused by Labour's mishandling of the economy.
After criticising the austerity programme last year when Britain's economy looked at risk of a triple-dip recession, the International Monetary Fund this month raised the country's growth forecasts more than for any other major economy.
Axelrod will fly to London next month for two days of meetings with Miliband and his campaign team, the party said.
Senior figures from his consultancy firm AKPD, who also worked on Obama's campaigns, will then become an integral part of Labour's election team alongside strategy head Douglas Alexander.
"In his work for President Obama, David helped shape a campaign that reflected his vision, focused on building an economy that works for all hardworking people and not just a privileged few," Miliband said.
"He will be a huge asset to our campaign," he said.
Last August the Conservatives themselves hired Obama's former campaign manager Jim Messina, a lifelong Democrat, to offer strategic advice to their campaign team which also includes Australian election strategist Lynton Crosby. (Editing by Louise Ireland)