Monthly Archives: June 2011

Lobbying firm desperately seeks Tory

Speak to any on-message lobbyist and they’ll tell you that, these days, there is much more to public affairs than who has the best political contact book.

Take Malcolm Gooderham, the former press secretary to Michael Portillo who now runs lobbying firm TLG. He told me: ‘There are a bunch of eighties throwbacks in the industry who think it’s all about contacts. Actually there’s a new school that is going to show them it’s actually not about who you know, but what you know.’

Or Labour man John Lehal, founder of Insight Public Affairs. He has assured me that: ‘The industry has changed a lot…You don’t need to be going to Westminster and Whitehall and having quiet chats with people, or spending hours lunching your friends from Parliament or government departments. It is far more about business strategy.’

Alas, it seems someone neglected tell the lobbying firm behind this job ad.

The un-named consultancy (who could it be?) has instructed recruitment agency The Foundry to reel in a Tory to fill a £50,000 senior consultant role. The poorly-written ad – complete with bogus capital letters – states:

‘Got Tory creds?…This Corporate and Public Affairs consultancy has both healthcare, financial services and property as major constituents in its business.  Its London office is looking for a Senior Consultant with insight into the working of Whitehall and Westminster from the Tory perspective.’

Of course, a Labour-heavy contacts book is currently about as much use in lobbying as a chocolate tea pot. And it’s not the first time in recent years that a consultancy has gone out on a limb to shore up its Tory credentials.

Nevertheless it’s still unusual to see a lobbying firm being so brazen about its desperate need for a Tory, even anonymously.

So what exactly does the £50,000 post entail?

Specific responsibilities include telling potential clients how close you are to Dave and pestering old CCHQ mates who are now in government to go out for expensive dinners with senior figures from healthcare, financial services and property.



Damian McBride shows familiar fighting spirit in new job

More than two years after his high-profile departure from Downing Street, Damian McBride is back in action.

Gordon Brown’s former media handler was once described by The Sun as ‘bred to kill’.  Just weeks ago he started at Cafod, a charity which works to save lives in more than 40 countries.

I gave McBride a bell this week to find out how he was dealing with the recent right-wing backlash against overseas aid spending.

He told me he was ‘getting stuck in’ and taking a ‘robust’ approach to dealing with the ‘myths’ put out by opponents.

Some things never change…

Yet while McBride’s enthusiasm for a scrap didn’t always endear him to colleagues in the Labour Party or in Downing Street (especially if they were on the recieving end), it may be just the tonic that development charities need right now.

Aid lobbyists face the likes of Conservative MP Philip Davies who has described Britain as a ‘soft touch’ and said we must be ‘stark raving mad’ to give high sums to countries such as India.

Davies and his ilk are encouraged by the Daily Mail which recently claimed that the UK doles out ‘more aid than any other country’ – a headline which the blog said ‘oversteps the remit of the facts’.

With development charities pitted against the combined forces of the Daily Mail and the right wing of the Conservative Party, McBride’s ‘robust’ approach may be exactly what is needed.

Perhaps the charity world should be thankful McBride has not lost too much of his fighting spirit.

* OECD figures show that while the UK is the most generous G8 economy in international aid relative to Gross National Income (GNI), it does not give the most aid of any country in the world – neither relative to GNI or in absolute terms.