Lord (Tim) Clement-Jones CBE says he hates cynicism. But he incites
it when he brandishes the photograph of his devilishly cute 18-month-old
son because on the back of the picture is a campaign sticker for Susan
Kramer, the Liberal Democrats’ mayoral candidate. Typical TC gesture,
says a party colleague.
One wonders how, if he loathes cynicism that much, he can spend just
about every waking hour with lobbyists, politicians and lawyers and love
it like a bee loves honey.
Maybe it’s because he is all three himself. He trained as a lawyer at
Trinity College, Cambridge, made a name for himself as a City lawyer
and, after many years in public affairs, is back with the lawyers at top
ten firm Dibb Lupton Alsop. He is heading DLA Upstream, a new division
designed to offer clients a way of anticipating forthcoming legal issues
and influencing their formulation rather than waiting until the deeds
have been done.
He admits that other law firms, such as Clifford Chance, Lovell White
Durrant and Eversheds, are already providing this service but that they
have not branded their operations as special units.
On the political side he is Liberal Democrats’ spokesman on health in
the House of Lords. He is on the party’s Federal Executive and was
chairman of its finance committee for eight years. He’s right there in
party history: he played a key role in the merger between the Liberals
and the SDP, and was chairman of the Lib Dems’ 1994 European Election
campaign. You’d never know he started life as a Tory.
Shandwick’s Lord McNally says Clement-Jones is a ’political animal to
his finger tips’ and an ’enthusiastic plotter who loves to be part of
the scheme and the team’. ’He also has a reputation for being the
activists’ activist as well as being part of the establishment,’ he
reckons. McNally also describes him as ’workaholic and meticulous
bordering on the obsessive’.
According to party sources, Clement-Jones does knuckle down and knock on
doors, even for by-elections, cleverly garnering valuable support in the
process. That’s not cynicism, say his many allies, that’s the great
Liberal tradition in action.
On the lobbying side, his first major achievements were with retail
comglomerate Kingfisher where, as group company secretary, he was
involved in the successful campaign for Sunday trading. After leaving
Kingfisher he set up his own public affairs consultancy TCJ and
Then in 1996 he co-founded the public affairs firm Political Context
with Leighton Andrews. Westminster Strategy bought it earlier this year,
prompting Clement-Jones to go solo. Being a life peer, his staying on
would have contravened APPC rules which forbid members from employing
peers. Clement-Jones feels the APPC’s rules are over the top.
’I am involved in management and am not doing a lot of direct lobbying,’
he argues. ’I am not paid for political work. I think it is an undue
restriction and an unreasonable fetter on what we do. Tim Bell, Dick
Newby, Tom McNally (all Lords) are involved in public affairs and the
industry would be poorer without them.’
Naturally, he scoffs at the very notion that there is anything unethical
about his multiple roles. It all makes for a very busy existence but the
first thing everyone says about Clement-Jones - or TC as he is known by
the Lib Dems - is that he has got superhuman energy, one friend even
says he has ’the attention span of a gnat’. He starts work at seven and
spends most afternoons in the second chamber. He is desperately proud of
the fact that he makes it back to Clapham for son Harry’s bath at six,
and then goes out again.
He and Edelman’s Nigel Whittaker, former corporate affairs director at
Kingfisher, are said to tell anyone who will listen that they ran the
London and Paris marathons in the mid-1990s. Whittaker, who would
probably rather be pelted with eggs outside Westminster than appear any
less than utterly loyal to him, says: ’He’s flourished in the last
couple of years since he became an independent businessman, a father and
joined the House of Lords. The man’s flying.’
So what of the future? Will the man who, many years ago, was a
prospective Parliamentary candidate, settle down and stick to one
discipline. No way, he says. He needs more money than politics would
’I don’t believe I would want to choose,’ he explains. ’I love the
variety and I love having links to business, politics and my family
life. I have always been able to combine all these and I will only stop
when I no longer have the energy.’
Group company secretary, Kingfisher
Co-founds Political Context
Joins Dibb Lupton Alsop to head DLA Upstream