The Independent Group gets help from public affairs operators

Written by David Singleton on 22 February 2019 in News

Seven Labour MPs launched the group with a press conference this week.

Two senior public affairs figures have been helping to get The Independent Group of the ground, PAN has established.

The main man behind the scenes for the new grouping of MPs is said to be former Labour aide and Edelman consultant Rob Newman. Also helping out is FTI Consulting managing director Oli Winton.

Newman was a senior parliamentary assistant to David Blunkett back in the day before going on to be an adviser to Liz Kendall and then an account director at Edelman, where he worked from 2014 to 2018. He now runs his own political comms shop, Raynfall Consulting.

Newman declined to lift the lid on his latest client work, but he is understood to have been recruited around three months ago to oversee the communications.

Also assisting on a voluntary basis is Winton who has been at FTI since 2015, with previous posts at Grayling and Luther Pendragon. He helped out on Labour’s 2017 general election campaign is an old pal of Luciana Berger.

He told PAN: “The launch on Monday was the start of something that is genuinely still up in the air. There is no planned staging of resignations and no pot of cash already raised as has been suggested; indeed the MPs paid for the room hire on Monday out of their own pockets and now need to bring in donors to conduct polling.

“The launch of TIG remained confidential because the seven kept it that way – rather than having tried to round up as many colleagues they could and ‘only’ arriving at seven. A large number of MPs – mainly on the Labour benches - are now considering their next steps.

“Privately they are scathing of Corbyn and don’t see the direction of the Party going in the way in which they’d like, but actually jumping ship is a hard decision and one they will agonise over. The leader won’t have helped win over his MPs by doubling down since the emergence of TIG rather than addressing the concerns their raised. “

This week’s news has prompted public affairs professionals to consider how they deal with the gang of eleven.

Connect boss and former Labour MP Andy Sawford said The Independent Group would have a significant influence on policy and will therefore be a key focus for lobbying. “At Connect we will be encouraging our clients to engage and, we will keep a close eye on how this moment in British politics unfolds,” states in an article for PAN.



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