Bell Pottinger cancels champagne reception at Tory party conference

Bell Pottinger Public Affairs is cancelling the champagne reception that it usually holds during party conference season, after the Conservatives recently told lobbyists to back off.

Peter Bingle: Bell Pottinger Public Affairs chairman
Peter Bingle: Bell Pottinger Public Affairs chairman

Last year, Bell Pottinger announced it would be switching its annual champagne reception from the Labour Party conference to the Tory event for the first time since the 1990s. The move was thought to symbolise Labour's downfall and the Tories' inevitable march towards Downing Street. But the consultancy has now decided not to hold the event at Tory conference for a second year running.

Bell Pottinger Public Affairs chairman Peter Bingle said: ‘The public mood has changed. The public is in a much more serious place than 12 months ago. Politics and public affairs has to adapt to that.'

The news comes just weeks after the Tories warned the industry to back off over Home Information Packs. Earlier this summer, shadow housing minister Grant Shapps fired off a letter to PRWeek after this magazine reported that Quintus had landed a brief to shift Tory opposition to HIPs (PRWeek, 26 June).

Shapps' letter stated: ‘There is a lesson here for the public affairs industry: last-minute attempts to change the manifesto and expect a U-turn on a party's established and consistent policies are unlikely to succeed.'

The blogger Guido Fawkes is also understood to be keen to expose links between lobbyists and top politicians.

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