Labour advisers show ethical face of political lobbyists

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The Independent Online
Three former advisers to Tony Blair have formed an agency operating out of smart new offices in Soho to promote "ethical" lobbying.

Following the "cash for questions" scandal, they are developing an "ethical" approach to their business. They will not take on clients "whose behaviour or goals we find politically or morally indefensible".

Neal Lawson, 34, Ben Lucas, 35 and John Mendelsohn, 30, were advisers to Tony Blair during the general election campaign in Labour's Millbank media headquarters.

Mr Lucas, a former adviser to Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, said they would not take on business from tobacco companies, and would not have accepted a brief to oppose the ban on handguns.

All former political advisers to Labour spokesmen in Opposition, they worked for Lowe Bell, the public affairs firm run by Sir Tim Bell, until after the election when they left to form their own company.

One of their clients is the RSPCA, and they are advising on the strategy for supporters of the Labour backbench Bill by Michael Foster to ban hunting.

They are part of the new breed of lobbyists being hired by all the political communications lobbying companies in the scramble to catch up with the Labour landslide on 1 May, which has made ex-Labour advisers hot property.

"We think we have struck a chord with a lot of people," Mr Lucas said. "We have only been going for six weeks but there has been a growing sense that the way in which organisations relate to the government and to the political process needed to change.

"A certain type of lobbying has been dying out for quite a long time - the idea that all you have to do is take an MP or minister to lunch, introduce them to your client, convince them of the argument, and show them a constituency interest.

"The election of a Labour Government symbolised, far more directly, the way that government deals with outside organisations and it has to be far more above board.

"In our case, it is not who we know, but understanding the way that people work that matters."

All three are Labour Party members and committed Blairite modernists.

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