Lobbying firm snares Norman Tebbit

A lobbying consultancy has signed up Tory grandee Norman Tebbit in a bid to forge stronger links with David Cameron's Conservatives.

Tebbit: 'Well connected'
Tebbit: 'Well connected'

Zeitgeist Public Affairs has appointed the former Tory cabinet minister as a non-executive director.

It is understood Tebbit - best known for proposing the ‘cricket test’ as a means of gauging whether a community had integrated - will be paid £75,000 per year on a retainer.

Tory insiders said Tebbit had been hired for his ability to ‘press the flesh’ and build bridges, thanks to diplomatic skills developed over decades in the party.

Zeitgeist founder Steve Prail told PRWeek: ‘We’re delighted to have Norman on board. Few people are better connected to the Conservative leadership.’

Former Hill & Knowlton consultant Prail set up Zeitgeist in 1989 with Anthony Lofo, a one-time aide to the disgraced Tory peer Jeffery Archer.

The agency has previously tended to operate under the radar and in 1993 Prail courted controversy by describing senior members the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC) as ‘bloody shits’. The APPC is responsible for upholding ethical standards in the industry.

It is understood that Prail and Lofo begun talks with Tebbit after meeting at Annabel’s, the exclusive nightclub in Berkeley Square, which is said to be a favourite haunt of Tebbit’s. The two lobbyists were introduced by former Labour cabinet minister David Blunkett - a close personal friend of Tebbit.

Prail said: ‘We were in our booth with David and a mystery blonde when Norman wandered over with Andy Coulson [Tory communications director]. We sealed the deal there and then. On the basis that the next government is likely to be Tory, we’re confident that Norman can help our clients to shape the election manifesto.’

Prail said that Tebbit would introduce his clients to key members of the shadow cabinet. He specifically referred to the ‘key influencers’ who will draw up the Tory manifesto, notably the shadow schools secretary Michael Gove and the chairman of the policy review, Oliver Letwin. ‘The trick is early and ongoing engagement,’ said Prail.

Tebbit could not be reached for comment. With the Conservatives edging closer to power, public affairs agencies are keen to boost their Tory credentials.

Last week, PRWeek revealed that Portland PR had signed up Cameron’s former press secretary George Eustice. Other agencies have concentrated on snaring up-and-coming researchers to backbench Tory MPs.

A number of public affairs agencies are also understood to be in advanced talks with Cameron’s chief make-up artist Olaf Priol.

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