Public Affairs: Soap Box - Dominic Church, managing director, Westminster Advisers

Politics has been turned on its head since the last general election.

We are not simply talking about the fact that we now have a coalition government, a rarity in British politics this side of the 1970s.

We are talking about the counter-intuitive behaviour of MPs on key issues surrounding the private sector and social justice.

The past two weeks in Parliament have seen the private sector getting a hammering from the Conservatives over the private finance initiative while Ed Balls, a self-declared leftie, refused to attack the City over its role in the financial meltdown. Earlier in June, Philip Hammond said he would consider options to create a mutual for the ownership and management of the port of Dover.

And now George Osborne, a key advocate of private sector involvement in public services, has forced a government retreat on the NHS. And all this at a time when a large number of Conservative MPs are going around calling themselves Red Tories.

What does this mean for us public affairs professionals? It shows that we must be more pragmatic when working with MPs and not simply take them at face value based on out-of-date party political positions.

We have to do our homework and move beyond stereotypes towards an understanding of each and every MP as an individual.

Crucially, we cannot simply approach coalition MPs on behalf of private companies with the same tried and tested 'private is good, public is bad' arguments.

We have to meld our private sector clients' objectives together with what they will achieve for wider society and show how shared value can be created from private sector profitability.

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