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People & Business: Flying the Red Flag in the City

IT'S AMAZING what a change of government can do. An informal discussion group founded around 18 months ago for Labour supporters in the City is finding that an increasing number of stockbrokers and corporate financiers are willing to fly the Red Flag.

Phil Collins (no relation), an equity strategist with Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, set up the EC4 Club, a discussion group aimed at improving links between the Square Mile and the Labour Party, after spending four years in the City and still finding "I knew virtually no one with Labour connections".

Mr Collins was political assistant to Frank Field in 1989-92 and helped the then shadow minister with his work on welfare and pensions reform. He then had a spell lecturing in philosophy before he "stumbled on a job in the City".

The club usually attracts around 15 people to an upstairs room of the Windmill pub in Mayfair once a month to hear a Labour Party figure talk.

Finding new people in the traditionally True Blue Square Mile who would like to attend is "a lot easier than 18 months ago, I can tell you," says Mr Collins.

When I suggested that cosying up to City wheeler-dealers would be anathema to Old Labour, Mr Collins agrees: "But there are certain things that they (the City) do that are vital to the economy." Mr Collins is now looking for a Tory to address the group - but is having trouble finding one.