Labour Party woos agency heads for City contacts

LONDON - The Labour Party has held discussions with its allies in the public affairs and PR industry to find out how the party can do more to woo back big business.

The "informal gathering", which took place at Labour's Old Queen Street HQ, was organised by Labour Party head of business liaison Nick Bowes. It was attended by representatives from agencies including Lexington Communications and Finsbury plus Social Market Foundation think tank director Phil Collins.

Attendees were asked for the names of their politically active City contacts and for their general thoughts on Labour's strategy towards businesses. But since reports of the meeting surfaced in the media last week, attendees have sought to play down its significance. "It was a group of mates who met up for a drink, had a chat and then went home again. We didn't decide on any plan of action. It was not an important meeting," Collins said.

Another source rejected the suggestion that Labour was targeting businesses that had been won over by opposition leader Michael Howard and claimed the meeting was merely an opportunity for agency heads to filter through feedback from clients.

The meeting comes a month after Howard launched an initiative to improve dialogue with businesses at a gathering in the Square Mile.

Yesterday, the Conservative Party was keeping up the pressure on embattled Prime Minister Tony Blair with the launch of a national 'Let Down by Labour' poster campaign.

The launch of the campaign coincided with a new research document called "Let Down by Labour: The Real Manifesto", which aims to highlight the gulf between what Blair promised when he first came to power in 1997 and what his government has actually delivered after seven years in office.

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