The National Union of Teachers has hired Ian Greer Associates, the
lobbying firm chaired by former Conservative party agent Ian Greer, to
handle its Parliamentary affairs including liaison with Labour MPs.
Two other firms - GPC Connect and Lowe Bell Political - bid for the
business which carries fees in excess of pounds 20,000. The latter
worked for the union briefly last year, producing a controversial report
on how the union could rid itself of its ‘loony left’ image.
The NUT appointment is a boost for IGA which has traditionally enjoyed
close links with the Conservative Party. It follows the appointment of
former NUT parliamentary liaison officer Jonathan Hopkins as a director
of IGA last November.
NUT general secretary Doug McAvoy said Ian Greer Associates had been
chosen on the basis of the service it provided and that the question of
‘whether Ian Greer has close links with the Conservative party or not’
was of ‘no interest to us’.
In addition to the standard Parliamentary monitoring and intelligence
service, McAvoy said IGA would give ‘communications advice on how we
can improve contacts both within Parliament and in areas related to
Parliament’. However, he said the firm had a very different brief to
that of Lowe Bell. IGA’s role, he said, related only to Parliamentary
The NUT is one of several unions to turn to lobbying firms - Unison has
retained Connect Public Affairs (now GPC Connect) for some time, while
the GMB hired Westminster Strategy earlier this year (PR Week, 2
McAvoy said the union had previously been spending pounds 15,000 a year
in consultancy fees for around a dozen MPs including Labour’s Estelle
Morris and the Liberal Democrats’ Don Foster. These have all now been
terminated apart from a consultancy arrangement with Gerry Steinberg,
Labour MP for Durham, for which he has now waived his pounds 2,000 to
pounds 3,000 a year fee.