There was a rather excellent ding-dong between John Humphreys and Chris Huhne on the Today programme this morning, as BBC attack dog Humpheys picked over Nick Clegg’s secret past as a (whisper it) lobbyist.
For the record, Clegg started out at lobbying firm GJW in the early 1990s and had a second stint in lobbying from 2004 to 2005 when he took a job as one of five partners at GPlus, the mighty Brussels-based firm.
But – as Humphreys will testify – you wouldn’t know any of this from speaking to the Huhnster!
UPDATE: Former Mirror political editor gets in touch to say PR bosses can learn from Huhne’s performance. David Seymour says: ‘I thought Chris Huhne gave the perfect demonstration of how to deal with a difficult and aggressive inquisitor (as he did a few weeks ago with Steven Nolan on Five Live).
‘Everyone who wants to show clients how to deal with radio (or TV) interviews should play the tape of the Huhne/Humphreys confrontation.’
I hear that lobbying firm Portland is looking for a couple of new recruits to join its ranks. Specifically an account manager and an account executive.
Not only do the appointees get the chance to work with former Downing Street spinners and ex Sun hacks.
They will they also get an annual bonus on top of their salary. And then the jobspec even dangles the prospect of a ‘quarterly bonus’.
Nice work if you can get it!
The lobbyists have spoken. Well, ten of them.
Ten public affairs agency chiefs have kindly predicted the outcome of the election for me.
According to this cream of the lobbying crop there will be a swing of at least three per cent to Labour by May 6.
The most number of seats the Tories can expect to win is 352, it would seem.
But the median projection from the ten fellas is for the Tories to be the largest party with 329 seats.
In other words, teetering on the brink of a hung parliament.
Which leaves me wondering: is this merely subliminal wishful thinking from an industry that stands to benefit from the widespread confusion that would arise following such a scenario?
I hear that Bell Pottinger is offering one lucky lobbyist the chance to stuff his or her face at Heston Blumenthal’s flagship restaurant – in return for correctly predicting the outcome of the election.
An email sent out to staff by agency boss Peter Bingle this morning states: ‘This is the competition you have all been waiting for. The chance to accurately predict the outcome of the general election and win lunch at The Fat Duck.’
Bingle is giving his staff until 2200 on 6th May to make their predictions and says the rules are ‘very simple’:
1. ‘You are only allowed one entry. No cheating!’
2. ‘You need to predict the largest party and the number of seats won by that party.’
3. ‘ If there is more than one winner we will be going to Nandos!’
The election is about to be called. The leaders are ready to do battle. The footsoldiers are prepared to take the fight to the doorstep. And the PR bosses are poised to offer their pearls of wisdom.
Batting for the FT is Hanover Communcations boss Charles Lewington.
For the next few weeks, the former Tory comms chief and one-time lobby hack will be a regular fixture on the FT Westminster blog, taking his place as part of a 3-strong ‘election panel’.
Meanwhile GQ magazine has signed up Weber Shandwick CEO Colin Byrne to pen a regular election blog.
And the former Labour chief press officer and pal of Mandy has already kicked off with a no holds-barred attack on a fellow Labourite:
‘The loathsome Charlie Whelan is wandering around like some fly fishing Arthur Scargill with an “access all areas” Commons pass…’
Match that, Lewington!