Public Affairs: Lobbyists welcome reduced Commons majority

London's principal public affairs consultants have hailed the general election outcome as a great result for the lobbying industry as Labour tries to push through its agenda with a radically diminished majority.

With Tony Blair's majority slashed from 161 to 67, PA practitioners expect their skills to influence and debate to be in greater demand and are preparing to step up their contact-building with MPs.

'The classic lobbying of New Labour has been at pre-policy stage, through think-tanks and advisers,' said Weber Shandwick MD of public affairs Jon McLeod.

'It will now be more about mobilising the parliamentary arithmetic to promote your case. Lobbyists will be back in parliament.'

Lexington Communications partner Ian Kennedy said: 'Labour backbenchers will find themselves lobbied for their votes a lot harder than they have been. Clients will look carefully at (the profiles of) individual MPs.'

Edelman Europe chairman of PA Michael Burrell said: 'This has been one of the most boring campaigns but one of the most interesting results. The result introduces more fluidity than there has been for the past eight years.'

But Citigate Public Affairs chairman Warwick Smith cautioned: 'I wouldn't overstate the case on backbench rebellions because the smaller the majority, the less likely people are to rebel.'

Bell Pottinger Public Affairs MD Peter Bingle noted: 'The majority is good for the public affairs business. While much smaller, it remains large enough for the Government to have a coherent programme.

'The challenge for the PA sector is in dealing with Blair but preparing for Gordon Brown.'

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