Monthly Archives: July 2009

Guido Fawkes sets his sights on lobbyists

For the last few years, Guido Fawkes has made it his mission to expose ‘troughing MPs’. But now the blogger who brought down Damian McBride has announced he is moving on to another target.

A new blogpost states: “Guido’s five year Porkbusters campaign against troughing by MPs is now winding down.  Guido’s new campaign over the coming years will be to highlight the fat cats of spin and their hidden hand in politics.”

In other words, Guido is out to get lobbyists.

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PM’s new spokesman Simon Lewis gets worst room in Downing Street

As the Queen’s former press secretary and ex-PR chief at Vodafone, one would expect that Simon Lewis has reached the stage in his career where he gets a plush office all to himself.

Not so in Gordon Brown’s Number Ten. According to Ben Brogan, the PM’s new official spokesman is to be holed up in a crappy sounding room which lacks natural light and doesn’t even have a door.  

Instead it has a curtain.

And the reason for this?  Why can’t he have the office currently occupied by departing Downing Street comms director Mike Ellam? According to Brogan, Gordon has bagged that one for himself. Outrageous!

Who is the Don Corleone of the lobbying world?

Sorry for the lack of posts recently , have been on hols.  Now I’m back, a couple of things have caught my attention.

1. I see that Guido Fawkes is not impressed by the Tories’ efforts to distance themselves from lobbyists (as previously chronicled here). Says Guido:  ‘So Conservative Party conference won’t be packed to the gills with expense card flashing drinks buying lobbyists? How many Tory PPCs are or were lobbyists? How many Tory MPs have links to lobbying firms….’

How cynical of him…

2. Martin Ivens’ column in yesterday’s Sunday Times suggests there’s a self-styled Don Corleone at loose in the lobbying world. Ivens begins his musings thus: ‘A leading parliamentary lobbyist gives new recruits a set of the Godfather films to help them adapt to Westminster life….’

Who is the lobbyist with these mafia-style connections? Should we be talking about Don Bingle? Or Tim ‘Vito’ Allan? I think we should be told.

(At this point, I feel I should I’d mock up a picture of Peter Bingle or Tim Allan stroking a cat…)

Embarrasing photos of UK’s top lobbyists find their way on to the web

Public Affairs News has posted up a number of photos from its recent awards on its website. And they’ve not exactly made a massive effort to leave out the most embarrasing ones…

You can see the lot here. My top three pics  – in reverse order – are as follows:

In third place: Hanover Communications boss Charles Lewington, a former Tory Party comms director, looks distinctly unimpressed by the two chaps he’s ended up having to talk to. You could at least pretend to be interested, Charles…

In second place: Weber Shandwick’s public affairs chief Michael Prescott, previously political ed at the Sunday Times, appears to be performing some kind of bizarre hand-waving dance accross the stage. Does he always celebrate like this?

In first place: Connect Public Affairs boss Gill Morris looks genuinely shell-shocked and appalled to be approached by someone waving a camera in her face. And Public Affairs News actually put this picture on the website for everyone to see! Is that any way to treat lobbying’s leading lady, eh Ian*?

*Ian Hall is the naughty editor of Public Affairs News

PM’s new spokesman Simon Lewis ‘winces’ as he sees lobby hacks in action for first time

The PM’s new official spokesman has entered Downing Street. Former Vodafone corporate affairs director Simon Lewis will spend the next couple of months observing how current spokesman Mike Ellam deals with  lobby journalists. It’s a bit like work experience. He will start the job himself in September/October.

Thirsty Guardian hack “Bill Blanko” provides a quick account of Lewis’ first outing here.

He writes: “Simon turned up at the Wednesday morning lobby, and I watched him wince as he witnessed the bruising encounter that Michael Ellam… has to go through twice a day.”

The Guardian hack also predicts, somewhat ominously: “I’m sure there will be plenty of wincing by Lewis… in the 10 or 11 months leading up to the next election.”

Lobbyists’ ‘desperate’ scramble for Tories continues…

The FT’s recent claim that lobbyists are engaged in a ‘desperate’ scramble to secure Tories, is absolutely correct.

The latest consultancy to persuade a Tory to sign on the dotted line is Fleishman-Hillard. The agency has hired Chris Heaton-Harris, who is the Tory PPC for the Daventry, one of the safest Conservative seats in the country.

Heaton-Harris is the third Tory PPC to take a lobbying job in recent months, following in the footsteps of George Eustice and Charlotte Leslie.

As staffers at CCHQ focus their gaze on Downing Street, he is unlikely to be the last…

Top Tory tells lobbyists: back off!

Shadow housing minister Grant Shapps has sent a rather interesting letter to PRWeek, in response to a recent story about The Association of Home Information Pack Providers hiring a lobbying firm. It reads:

“The Association of Home Information Pack Providers is perfectly entitled to hire whoever they want to further their trade association’s ends. But paying Quintus ‘to shift Conservative opposition’ to Home Information Packs is not going to be one of their most successful commissions…

“We have always opposed this unpopular red tape and it is important that the housing industry has the certainty of knowing our plans for change. Political parties have a duty to listen and engage. But there is a broader lesson here for the public affairs industry: last minute attempts to ‘change the manifesto’ and expect a U-turn on a party’s established and consistent policies are unlikely to succeed.”

Why are the Tories so keen to distance themselves from the lobbying industry?  

Surely nothing to do with a leading lobbyist suggesting that his clients could shape the Conservative manifesto for the general election…