Battle for APPC chair begins

A three-way fight to become the new chair of the Association of Professional Political Consultant (APPC) is on the cards as current chair Gill Morris prepares to stand down.

Morris's two year-term as chair comes to an end next month and she will then take the newly created post of deputy chair. APPC members will vote for her successor in May.

Three members of the APPC management committee - Mandate Communications MD Gavin Devine, Precise Public Affairs director Robbie MacDuff and Foresight Consulting MD Mark Adams - are in the running, according to APPC insiders. All three lobbyists told PRWeek they had yet to make a final decision about whether to throw their hats in the ring.

Other names in the frame are Lucy Burns, head of Fishburn Hedges' public affairs practice, and Helen Johnson, the boss of Helen Johnson Consulting.

The management committee will meet on 7 April to discuss the issue and to decide whether to officially endorse one or more candidate. Members of the APPC will have the final say on who is the next chair at the body's AGM, which takes place on 12 May.

One APPC insider said it would be tough to choose between the favourites as they all had a similar vision for the APPC.

According to the source, all three lobbyists are satisfied that the APPC is moving in the right direction by 'making the case for openness and transparency, and for not paying parliamentarians'. The source added: 'The key challenge for the next chair is to ensure we are winning the argument for those twin pillars.'

The next chair will also have to stand firm in the face of the APPC's opponents. One of the APPC's staunchest critics, Bell Pottinger Public Affairs chair Peter Bingle, recently wrote in PRWeek's Public Affairs Essays supplement: 'This year will hopefully be the year the APPC finally expires.'

Morris, MD at Connect Public Affairs, assumed the chair in May 2005, taking over from Warwick Smith, who now heads up College Hill's lobbying practice.

Morris has demonstrated that she is not afraid to fight the APPC's corner. Last year, she insisted: 'The APPC is at a record high in terms of members - currently numbering more than 50 - and this trend looks set to continue, so talk of our demise is a rather strange proposition' (PRWeek, 1 November 2007).

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