Gould went to the London School of Economics 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.
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 communication 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.
Gould was the author of a leaked memo which, in 2000, described the New Labour brand as being contaminated.
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.
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. His efforts resulted in an eight-minute film entitled, When I Die: Lessons from the Death Zone, 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.
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
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.