2014 Stakeholder Awards: Full list of winners
After many minutes of deliberation, our one-strong panel of judges - chaired by PAN editor David Singleton - has concluded this year's Stakeholder Awards. Among the winners is Dame Tessa Jowell, whose advice to Ed Miliband about when to eat a bacon sandwich has earned her the hotly-contested gong for Strategic PR Advice of the Year.
STRATEGIC PR ADVICE OF THE YEAR
Winner: Dame Tessa Jowell, Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood
As Ed Miliband struggled with a bacon sandwich at New Covent Garden flower market in May, the Labour leader’s media minders tried in vain to stop photographers taking close-ups of butter and ketchup oozing between his teeth. After a few bites, Miliband appeared defeated, and the snack was put into the custody of his top aide Lord Wood. As the unflattering images went viral, Jowell had some high-level strategic PR advice for her leader: "Don’t eat a bacon butty with the world’s cameras on you, quite frankly."
SCREECHING U-TURN OF THE YEAR
Winner: Delroy Corinaldi, head of public affairs, Wonga
Corinaldi is the clear winner of this award for joining Wonga as its public affairs chief in March - just a few months after leaving his post as director of external affairs at consumer debt advice charity StepChange. Upon leaving StepChange he had said: "After four years I’m considering some exciting new challenges in finance, but I will always be passionate about the importance of achieving a society free from problem debt." What a character!
COWARD OF THE YEAR
Winner: Alison White, lobbying registrar
When White faced the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee in the summer for a pre-scrutiny hearing, Tory MP (and former Aviva head of public affairs) Tracey Crouch suggested she should be prepared to tell ministers if the lobbying register was “not working… not covering everything you wanted to do”. But White flatly disagreed, insisting it was not her job “to unpick the will of Parliament”. Clearly Crouch and her fellow MPs saw this as a cowardly cop out. Their report the following week stated: “We had concerns relating to how the candidate would respond if the legislation was found to be wanting.”
QUOTE OF THE YEAR
Winner: Jon McLeod, corporate, financial & public affairs chairman, Weber Shandwick
Previous winners of this gong include top lobbyists Lionel Zetter and Warwick Smith. Keeping with tradition, another of the public affairs world’s big dogs has lapped up the prize this year. McLeod wins with comments made in the course of a PAN profile in May, when he lamented the "dragoons of young men" in lobbying. In a memorable call for greater diversity in the profession, he said: "We can’t just have dragoons of young men in crumpled suits smelling of last night’s nightclub doing public affairs…."
Runner-up: Kevin Maguire, associate editor (politics), Daily Mirror
Our judges felt that Maguire was also in the running for getting the truth out about the Westminster party scene. The Mirror man and PAN columnist told the BBC’s Daily Politics Show on December 11: "If you really want decent champagne you have to go to the parties held by the lobbyists."
TWEET OF THE YEAR
Winner: David Aaronovitch, columnist, The Times
In 2012, George McGregor of Interel won this coveted award for a tweet which put Andrew Mitchell on the front page of the Sun. In 2013, top lobby hack Tim Shipman won for his 140 character round-up of party conference season. This year, it goes to a journo again. Aaronovitch wins for his response to the news that Norman Baker, known as Westminster's most famous conspiracy theorist, was resigning from his job as Home Office minister. Aaronovitch tweeted: "Why go now? Why in an i/v with the Independent? There are so many unanswered questions about the resignation of ‘Norman Baker’."
Runner up: Department for Culture, Media and Sport
The official DCMS twitter feed also gets an honourable mention from our judges for tweeting that: “@Maria_MillerMP is like a modern day Robin Hood. She robs the poor to feed the rich.” Alas, it was a hack.
PARTY OF THE YEAR
Winner: The Daily Mirror, Labour conference party
At this year’s Labour conference, the Mirror’s bash on Coronation Street was the hottest ticket in town. The event drew in the three Eds (Miliband, Balls and Izzard – obviously) while Rachel Reeves, Caroline Flint, Gloria de Piero and Angela Eagle were happily pulling pints at the Rovers Return. The guest list also gave a flavour of which lobbyists are genuinely close to those who matter in the party these days. Among the Labour public affairs types present at the invite-only bash were Insight Public Affairs boss John Lehal, Burson Masteller’s Katie Myler and Tetra Strategy bosses Lee Petar and James O’Keefe.
EMAIL FAIL OF THE YEAR
Winner: Citgate Dewe Rogerson
An email sent out to clients and contacts by Citigate Dewe Rogerson in April stated: “With David Miliband today a proposed crackdown on zero hours contracts…” Of course, it should have said Ed. To make matters worse, Times political hack Laura Pitel spotted the gaffe and took to Twitter, where the email was quickly branded an #epicfail. Oops.
EDITOR’S AWARD FOR BEARER OF GOOD NEWS
Winner: Lionel Zetter, chair, PRCA public affairs group
In October, we revealed that Shepherd's was to re-open under new management led by Zetter. The restaurant had closed its doors last year, prompting lamentations across the Westminster village. Guido Fawkes quickly picked up on the tale and Sky News man Jon Craig penned a rather fab column on the subject. “Like many regulars of the dining salons of SW1, I was very disappointed when it closed last year and I wish lobbyist Lionel Zetter well in his bid to restore a hallowed Westminster institution to its former glory,” he wrote.
CONTROVERSIAL APPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR
Winner: Cratus Communications/Bob Neill MP
In June, we brought the news that Tory MP Bob Neill was talking a non-executive director role at Cratus Communications. We noted at the time: “The appointment of Neill will raise eyebrows as Cratus is not currently a member of the main industry bodies which seek to uphold ethical standards in lobbying through industry-wide codes of conduct." Three months later, eyebrows were duly raised. APPC chairman Iain Anderson said that the appointment of a sitting MP "sits very uneasily with the vast majority of us who work in agency lobbying". He weighed in as former Lib Dem leader of Kingston Council Liz Green said there were "serious questions about openness and transparency" for Cratus.
Runner up: Essential Living/Mark Prisk MP
We revealed in August that former housing minister Mark Prisk had taken up an advisory role with Essential Living, a private property developer, less than a year after leaving office. The tale was followed up in Private Eye. It noted that the property firm’s private equity backer was “actively lobbying Government to be able to exclude social housing tenants from its developments”.
CONTROVERSIAL CLIENT OF THE YEAR
Winner: Portland Communications/Government of Qatar
Bell Pottinger was previously an annual shoo-in for this award, but the agency has recently made a concerted effort to keep its nose out of trouble, which means that other agencies are now in the running. Step forward Portland. Tim Allan’s agency has raised eyebrows before by working for the Russian government. We reported in August that this contracted had ended - and Portland had picked up a lucrative new contact to advise the Government of Qatar. A few weeks later Channel 4 News reported that Portland was involved in a football blog that attacked critics of the 2022 Qatar World Cup and sought to whitewash the highly controversial decision. Portland said: "The Pressing Game is a football blog that was set up by some football fans. Some people from our digital team helped set up the site but we don't run it."
MYSTERY CLIENT OF THE YEAR
Winner: Unknown agency/unknown ex-MP
In November, Labour’s John Mann claimed that at least one former MP accused of horrific sex abuse in the 1970s and 80s had turned to a lobbying consultancy for help. "Some of those accused of child abuse are paying a lot of money for PR and lobbying,” he said. Who could it be? Readers may remember that Bell Pottinger helped to defend Lord McAlpine from false allegations of this kind two years ago. But the chairman of their political division Tim Collins told me: “We are not currently acting for anyone accused of abuse.” Senior figures at Portland, Weber Shandwick and MHP also told me in no uncertain terms that it’s not them, while Hanover boss Charles Lewington said: “I am not aware of any one of the characters being named in the press using PR agencies.”
FAST-MOVER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Stephen Lotinga, director of communications to the Deputy Prime Minister
Edelman was delighted to secure the services of Stephen Lotinga from Bell Pottinger to become its public affairs MD in January. They were somewhat less delighted a few weeks later when Edelman told them he was off to be one of Nick Clegg’s many special advisers. An email Lotinga sent to pals in April stated: “As some of you may already know, after a brief but highly enjoyable few months, I will be leaving Edelman today to take up an exciting new job as Director of Communications to the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.” At the time, some speculated as to whether Porsche-driving Lotinga had taken pay cut to work for the Cleggster. It recently emerged that he is on £105,000, making Lotinga the DPM’s best-paid aide.
FIGHT OF THE YEAR
Winners: Labour MP Tom Watson and William Hill head of public affairs Andrew Lyman
Watson got into a tasty spat with Lyman over gambling machines at the end of 2013 (so just eligable for these awards). It started when Watson was accused by Lyman of spreading “undigested propaganda” from campaign groups in a note to fellow MPs. Writing on Twitter, Lyman also said of Watson’s note: “It is a litany of inaccurate and unproven opinion dressed as fact.” Speaking to Public Affairs News, Watson reacted angrily to the comments. “I strongly advise that unsolicited abuse on Twitter is not the way to engage with MPs. William Hill’s lobbying strategy is incompetent if they think this approach will work,” he told us.
EDITOR’S ‘ONE STEP CLOSER TO PARLIAMENT’ AWARD
Winner: Simon Nayyar, partner, Newgate Communcations
Back in 2010, Nayyar was selected by the Tories to fight one of the safest Labour seats in the land, the hipster constituency of Hackney South & Shoreditch. He duly limped home in third, 18,000 votes behind sitting MP Meg Hillier. When we profiled Nayyar in 2013 he remained on a mission to enter Parliament, saying. “I had a whale of a time… and yes if the opportunity arose I should like to do it again.” This year, Nayyar won the race to be Tory candidate for Feltham & Heston. In 2010, Dave’s party were 4,500 votes away from winning the seat. Could Nayyar nab it in 2015? Probably not, but stranger things have happened.
FREEBY OF THE YEAR
Winner: David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham
We revealed in October that Labour London Mayoral hopeful David Lammy had turned to a communications firm for advice on how to boost his image. Records showed that the Tottenham MP had been given help worth more than £5,000 by Covent Garden-based agency Mission Media, whose clients include top London restaurants The Ivy, Le Caprice and Scott’s. Lammy was not charged for the PR advice as he is a personal friend of the agency’s founder. Tasty!
COMPLIMENT OF THE YEAR
Winner: Richard Royal , Senior Corporate Affairs Manager, Britvic Soft Drinks
When Royal announced at the start of the year that he was leaving his post as public affairs manager at Ladbrokes at the same time as becoming an approved Conservative Parliamentary Candidate, The Spectator’s Steerpike couldn’t resist pointing out that the lobbyist was a bit of a hit with the ladies. He asked: “Is this broody, Heathcliff-esque figure the answer to Young Dave’s seemingly insoluble woman problem?”
BOAST OF THE YEAR
Winner: Peter Bingle, managing director, Terrapin Communications
The shy and retiring Peter ‘never knowingly under-lunched’ Bingle was interviewed for PAN’s 2 Minutes With slot in March this year. Asked what had been his proudest moment in public affairs, he told us: “Forming my own consultancy and nervously sending out the email telling my own clients what I was doing. I had seven clients within 30 minutes…”