Senior Tories join forces to form new lobbying agency

Conservative Party insiders are teaming up to launch a new PR agency as the Tories edge closer to power.

Bethell: will be managing director of the agency
Bethell: will be managing director of the agency

Former Portland lobbyist James Bethell and YouGov founder Stephan Shakespeare will be the driving forces beh­ind lobby firm Westbourne Communications.

Two account managers have already been appointed and more staff could be hired later this year.

The agency will also draw on the resources of the res­pected ConservativeHome website, based in the same building as the start-up.

Bethell will be MD of the new agency. He is a well-known Tory operator who was on party leader David Cameron’s ‘A-list’ of Tory election candidates in 2006. Bethell’s father was a Conservative MEP and hereditary peer.

Shakespeare will perform the role of non-executive chairman. He was campaign manager for Jeffrey Archer’s doomed mayoral campaign nearly a decade ago and went on to co-found polling company YouGov in 2000.

Shakespeare has also foun­ded the ConservativeHome and PoliticsHome websites.

Westbourne is understood to be a reference to Westbourne Grove – the leafy street in Notting Hill near the residences of Cameron and his political friends.

Bethell said the name ref­erred to a street close to where he lived, but insisted there was ‘no wider significance’.

He said the new agency would focus on embracing digital communications, rather than cashing in on Tory connections. 
‘The traditional media have lost their monopoly on news. Governments are trying to push decisions down the chain,’ said Bethell. ‘Communications in the internet age is bound to be less about managing the message and more about mobilising opinion.’

Launch clients include the Ministry of Sound and the Private Equity Foundation.

 

James Bethell’s CV

2008 Joined Policy Exchange as comms director

2006 Joined Portland as a managing partner

2005 Stood as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Tooting

1994
MD of the Ministry of Sound nightclub

1991 Joined The Sunday Times as reporter

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