Monthly Archives: October 2010

Lobbyists go head-to-head in voting reform battle

As the AV referendum draws closer, the rival camps are preparing for battle – by calling in the lobbyists.

In the Yes  corner is Hill & Knowlton’s public affairs chief Paul Sinclair. As I reported this morning, Sinclair will lead the comms effort and act as chief spokesman for the Yes To Fairer Votes campaign.

A former political editor on The Daily Record, Sinclair has headed up H&K’s lobbying team for approaching two years. Before entering the agency world, he endured a six-month stint at Downing Street where he was charged with the task of persuading the commentariat to write nice things about Gordon Brown.

Getting the public to vote Yes to AV should be a doddle in comparison…

But in the No corner is the formidable Matthew Elliott, who founded the Taxpayers’ Alliance and is  now on sabbatical. Elliot has performed wonders in raising the profile of the TPA and making the right-wing body one of the most influential pressure groups in the land – not least by cleverly disguising its links with the Tories.

He may want to do the same with the No to AV campaign…

Indeed, getting a broad church of non-partisan followers on board could be the key for either side.

Alas, no rumours yet of any sexy celebs who could help Elliot and co – although there are sure to be a few business types willing to get involved. On the other side, word reaches me that senior Lib Dems pushing for a Yes vote are keen to sign up Gurkha saviour Joanna Lumley to put an attractive gloss on the campaign.

Ayo Gorkhali!

Tesco orders in a Tory

In the heady days of New Labour, Tesco snapped up Tony Blair’s private secretary David North to be its top lobbyist.

Once Gordon Brown took over, it signed up Downing Street press chief Tom Hoskin as head of corporate media.

Now, with David ‘Your Country Needs You’ Cameron leading the nation,  the sprawling supermarket giant has made the entirely predictable move of snaring a Tory. Step forward CCHQ senior press officer Amy Jackson, who takes the role of government affairs manager – reporting in to North.

When will mates of Ed Miliband get a look in?

Labour’s chief whip lobbying links

Bell Pottinger lobbying chief Peter Bingle has been ruing the demise of his close pal Nick Brown, following the news that Labour’s new leader no longer wants Brown as chief whip.

‘By persuading Nick Brown not to stand he [Ed Miliband] has created a not very positive tension between himself and the PLP,’ mused a broken Bingle this week.

But fear not! The links between the Labour chief whip and the lobbying industry are not completely severed.

The new chief whip, Rosie Winterton, is a good pal of Connect Public Affairs boss Gill Morris, having helped Morris to set up the agency some years ago.

Clearly, Bingle and Morris – who clashed bitterly over the issue of lobbying transparency – have something in common after all.