Public Affairs: Labour aides left in the cold

Industry chiefs criticise 'unrealistic' salary demands by advisers.

Former Labour Party advisers are being passed over for senior roles in PR consultancies because of 'unrealistic' salary demands, PRWeek has learned.

Scores of Labour advisers have entered the jobs market following the party's general election defeat on 6 May, but only a handful of unemployed Labour aides have secured roles in lobbying and PR.

Agency bosses spoken to by PRWeek revealed that most ex-Labour aides were demanding more than £80,000 per annum - with some expecting to be paid as much as £100,000.

A senior figure at one of the UK's biggest PR consultancies said: 'You pay that for a director, but there's not a hope in hell that some of these people will earn that.

'They are adding these sums on to what they were paid in government, but it's completely unrealistic. They need to get in the real world.'

The source said that agencies were unlikely to shell out for aides without the relevant commercial experience: 'You've got to earn your spurs first. You've got to be able to commercialise it.'

A public affairs boss from a rival firm said some of Gordon Brown's ex-aides in Number 10 were among those looking for consultancy work.

'They are asking for too much,' said the source. 'They want to be rewarded for their time in government. But most consultancies already have all the Labour people they need.'

Former Number 10 aides are also said to be ruling out roles with a public affairs focus. 'They only want to do corporate,' said a source. 'They don't want to do lobbying - they're a bit sniffy about it.'

The few Labour special advisers to move into PR in recent weeks have taken posts in the voluntary sector. Claire McCarthy, former aide to Peter Hain, is now director of public affairs at the charity 4Children, and Mark Davies, former aide to Jack Straw, is director of comms at mental health charity Rethink.

Other Labour aides are currently working on Labour leadership campaigns. Ed Balls' former special adviser Alex Belardinelli is now press handler for the Balls campaign, while James Purnell's former aide Lisa Tremble is 'official spokesperson' for the David Miliband campaign.

Meanwhile, ex-Downing Street comms chief Justin Forsyth is the new chief executive of Save the Children UK.

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