Steve Bates made the call in a speech to the CIPR's government affairs group last week.
He said: 'Special advisers should be renamed political advisers. Many people who approach government don't understand their role.'
Speaking later, Bates told PRWeek: 'Lobbyists can sometimes have an unrealistic understanding of what special advisers can or should do.'
Bates was a special adviser to Reid during his spells as home secretary, health secretary and defence secretary. He is now director of government affairs at biotech firm Genzyme.