Lobbyists shun Liberal Democrat conference in favour of Conservatives

Lobbyists flocked to this week's Conservative Party conference, but many continued to avoid the Liberal Democrat annual conference, despite the party's role in government.

Baroness Warsi: addresses the Conservative conference [Rex Features]
Baroness Warsi: addresses the Conservative conference [Rex Features]

PRWeek spoke to 15 of the UK's leading public affairs firms to gauge levels of activity during this year's party conference season.

The firms sent a combined total of 117 consultants to the Tory conference in Manchester and 80 to last week's Labour conference in Liverpool, but only 68 from the top 15 consultancies attended the recent Liberal Democrat event in Birmingham.

The findings suggest that most public affairs firms are sceptical about the influence of Nick Clegg's ministers in the coalition Government. But one agency lobbyist said there was another reason for the low turnout.

'We threw a lot of resources at the Lib Dems last year,' he said. 'We found it was fine - but not essential. The ecosystem is not very large, so you end up speaking to the same people. There is a limited number of people to meet.'

The consultancies surveyed were: Bell Pottinger Public Affairs; Connect Communications; Edelman; Fishburn Hedges; Fleishman-Hillard; Hanover; Insight Public Affairs; Interel Consulting; MHP Communications; Open Road; PLMR; Portland; TLG; Westminster Advisers and The Whitehouse Consultancy. The firms employ a combined total of 369 consultants doing public affairs work.

MHP Communications sent the most consultants to each of the party conferences, with 11 going to the Lib Dems, 13 to Labour and 20 to the Tory conference. Other consultancies with a large conference presence were Bell Pottinger Public Affairs, Connect Communications and Portland.

MHP public affairs MD Fiona Holroyde said: 'Our party conference presence is very much client-led and so our numbers reflect client activity at the conferences.'

Only two agencies - Fleishman-Hillard and Open Road - sent more consultants to the Lib Dem conference than they sent to the Labour event.

One of the 15 firms, The Whitehouse Consultancy, did not have a presence at any of the party conferences. MD Chris Whitehouse described party conferences as 'a drain on resources'.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Latest Articles

John Lewis to tell brand story with "tasteful" 150th anniversary celebrations

John Lewis to tell brand story with "tasteful" 150th anniversary celebrations

Department store John Lewis is to use its 150th anniversary this year to talk about its history, which "not enough people know about", according to director of communications Peter Cross.

Labour hires Obama election strategist David Axelrod to fight General Election

Labour hires Obama election strategist David Axelrod to fight General Election

The man who helped Barack Obama win the 2008 and 2012 US presidential elections is to work for Labour along with members of his team.

Sky adds Fever PR to its roster after splitting with Cake

Sky adds Fever PR to its roster after splitting with Cake

Pay-TV giant Sky has added Fever PR to its agency line-up for a wide-ranging brief covering products and services.

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford has been sent home for Easter and will reconvene on Tuesday for further deliberations about its verdicts on 11 charges of indecent assault.

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

The Home Office has tasked Munro & Forster (M&F) with supporting its campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) as part of a wider retained brief.