Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘chris wilford’

I think I’m right in saying that of all the London boroughs, Tower Hamlets has been in the news more than most regarding cycling fatalities in the past few years. Three people have been killed at the notorious Bow roundabout alone since 2011.

A number of others (some can supply the exact figure) have also lost their lives along Bow Road, Mile End Road, Whitechapel Road and Aldgate High Street. All those deaths occurred on the Cycle Superhighway 2 (CS2).

There are also accidents waiting to happen on the CS3 in Limehouse, particularly by the junction of Branch Road and Horseferry Road where motorists are given little chance when cyclists are directed their way, against the flow of traffic, in a one-way street.

To be fair to John Biggs, he has been campaigning at City Hall on these issues for years.

Following the latest Bow Roundabout deaths last November, Mayor Lutfur Rahman weighed in, saying:

Boris Johnson has repeatedly ignored demands to make Bow roundabout safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Today I am asking to meet Mayor Boris Johnson and demand he act immediately to make the Bow roundabout safer and undertake an urgent review of the Cycle Superhighway in Tower Hamlets.

So, despite his love of chauffeured Mercs, you’d fully expect him to accept an invitation from the group representing cyclists in Tower Hamlets for a hustings in Bethnal Green tonight.

Here’s the email sent out by Tower Hamlets Wheelers:

For the first time in London’s political history, a campaign group is aiming to lobby 6000 local election candidates to help make streets safer and more inviting for everyone to cycle.

With the mayoral elections taking place on May 22nd, local cycle campaign group, Tower Hamlets Wheelers have arranged a Q&A with election candidates. With the majority of candidates confirmed to attend, we have a unique opportunity to put forward our questions and influence future decision makers on why cycle safety needs to be a priority.

We are inviting local Tower Hamlets residents to come along – ask questions, share their views or simply hear what the candidates have to say:
When: Wednesday 14th May at 7.00pm
Where: St Margaret’s House, Old Ford Rd, E2 9PL

The borough council controls the vast majority of roads in Tower Hamlets and the mayor is in a uniquely powerful position to influence and implement cycling friendly policies. This is our chance to let the next mayor know how important Space for Cycling is.

Tower Hamlets Wheelers tell me the following people have confirmed their attendance:

John Biggs (Lab)

Reetendra Banerji (Lib)

Nicholas McQueen (UKIP)

Hugo Pierre (TUSC)

Chris Smith (Green)

Chris Wilford (Con)

They’ve emailed and called Lutfur Rahman’s office several times, including an email to his agent, Cllr Alibor Choudhury (on an email address I know he monitors).

They’ve not had any reply.

So it looks like he’s ducking another Q&A with residents.

 

UPDATE: 2.15pm

Seconds after I published this blog (and after having checked with Tower Hamlets Wheelers), they emailed me to say that at 2pm today, Lutfur’s office had replied. Lutfur won’t be attending tonight, but they say Alibor Choudhury will attend in his place. They provided no reason for Lutfur’s absence and I wonder whether the other candidates will even accept this.

Read Full Post »

As a little bank holiday break from the Panorama fall out, I’m publishing two less controversial pieces today. The first is by Chris Wilford, the Conservatives’ candidate for Tower Hamlets Mayor, Chris Wilford (I asked him to write about who is and why he’s standing).

The second will be by Cllr Stephanie Eaton, the lone Lib Dem and for the most part the lone voice of reason. She’s standing down as a councillor in May, having been first elected in 2006 when the Lib Dems were initially routed. I’ve asked her to look back at the last eight years (although disappointingly she doesn’t want to dwell much on the Lutfur/Labour fray; interestingly, she’s been more sympathetic towards Lutfur than most but even she never took a seat in his all-Bengali cabinet).

Anyway, here’s Chris Wilford (he’s the chap in the chinos):

SONY DSC

 

Time for a fresh start for Tower Hamlets

It has certainly been a frenetic few weeks in what some in the national media term the brutal politics of our borough. On the doorstep, many have asked me why I want to become the youngest directly elected Mayor in Europe and what I have to offer as the Conservative candidate.

Well, despite not being a former Labour leader of the council nor having a famous cousin, I put myself forward quite simply because I passionately believe it is time for a fresh start for Tower Hamlets and I want to work with residents to build a better borough.

I’m 28 years old and first moved to the borough five years ago. After living in a bedsit near Brick Lane with people from all over the world for three years, I now live in Bow.

Like many others I moved to the borough for study and work. I have made it my home and its energy quickly took a hold of me. I have known times of unemployment and uncertainty here but the variety and dynamism of Tower Hamlets has always got me through.

Born in Merseyside, I moved to Kent when I was 10 and was educated at state grammar schools before coming to London for University. I now work in communications after a time as a recruitment consultant and working for the government’s British Council on educational projects.

I believe the individual is the central force for change in modern Britain. I believe aspiration and innovation should be the central drivers of British society. I believe in the freedom of responsibility.

I joined the Conservative Party because of these values and got my first proper taste of Tower Hamlets politics as a Conservative candidate for the then St Dunstan’s and Stepney Green ward. Memories of the vicious tussle betweenLabour and Respect for control will stay with me for a long time to come.

Tower Hamlets is famous for its history, its diversity, and its politics. After decades of neglect, residents feel shut out of local decision-making, and are fed up by the squabbling of the local political class as we face up to some of the most serious challenges in the country in areas such as child poverty and unemployment.

I want to reopen the channels of communication between the people and those in power, I want to implement a long term plan to tackle issues such as unsustainable development, and I want to clean up the borough ….. literally.

My detractors have had a go at my willingness to discuss issues that matter to local people such as potholes and rubbish. The fact is Tower Hamlets is dirty and its roads need sorting out. Time and time again residents have described to me in vivid detail the potholes that disrupt their daily life.

Whilst some candidates wish to talk about the availability of Class A drugs on the NHS, I want to sort out the problems that have a direct impact on our quality of life. I want to give our Estates a fresh lick of paint, I want to fix up our roads and I want to get rubbish under control once and for all.

My long term plan for Tower Hamlets is based on sustainable housing, strong schools, safer streets and stable finances. I want to rewrite the local development framework following consultation with residents, I want to cut Town Hall waste, I want to launch an enterprise fund for local pubs (including real ale apprenticeships for those who want to go into the pub trade), I want to work with employers in the borough to deliver jobs for residents of all ages, and I want to deliver a 5.7% council tax cut for residents (worth £50 to each household).

Like many people from around the world I have made Tower Hamlets my home. The record of our Councillors in delivering for residents is testament to what the Conservatives can achieve in our borough. This election people are waking up. The vote is split and every vote will count – make sure you vote for a fresh start.

Read Full Post »

I asked Nick McQueen, the new Ukip candidate for Tower Hamlets mayor to write a short piece to introduce himself and to outline some of his views and how he would improve the borough. I also asked him for his views on the important second preference vote that Labour’s John Biggs is probably relying on.

Below is Nick’s piece and below that, I’m copying the short manifesto Ukip has drawn up for Tower Hamlets.

The three things that stand out for me in terms of headline grabbers are the decriminalisation of heroin in Tower Hamlets (to get rid of the dealers, but which could also have the effect of attracting every junkie in London to the borough); new “Moses” clubs in every school to help children of different faiths mix more; and the abolition of the council funded “mother tongue” classes for Bengali families (something I and many others including David Goodhart have called for).

I think this should prompt a good discussion….Here’s Nick’s piece:

Why I am Standing

I am an East Ender born and bred. My life experiences set me apart from the political class. They are trained to argue for policies that they do not believe in but in the East End we call that lying. Instead I will be honest, transparent and accountable.

Children in the borough are suffering. Some of them are being fed soup at the end of the month.

Others are being segregated due to the current mayors policies, and the funding for their clubs has been taken away. There is overcrowding in the borough I grew up in the East End but I have never known it this bad. I want to fight for the multi-cultural, multi-religious society of London’s East End.

The East End is not a colour, we all become as one. A community is assessed NOT on how well the rich live, but on how well we look after the less fortunate.

My Views of the Current Mayor Lutfur Rahman

Mr Rahman uses policies of segregation rather than integration – for example his “mother tongue” lessons. The mayor of Newham (Sir Robin Wales) has recently accused him of bringing a form of apartheid to Tower Hamlets. He rarely speaks in the council meetings. He does not have the interests of the whole community at heart. Have you ever seen him at Canary Wharf standing up for the City, one of our country’s most important industries and a major source of the tax revenue that funds our public services?

Would I like Rahman out at Any Cost?

Yes of course I want him out. But the answer is not to elect a different socialist administration under Labour. Their candidate John Biggs will keep his role on the London Assembly – we don’t need a part-time mayor. He ran the council for a number of years and the Labour Party created Rahman. Would you give a lighter back to a previous arsonist?

The Tory candidate (Chris Wilford) has been parachuted in. He has no real background in the East End and is currently talking about potholes. We need something very different for Tower Hamlets – UKIP can be that difference.

How Can UKIP Make the Borough Better?

We will breathe new life into the borough with our policies. UKIP does not have a whip in local government, which gives our councillors freedom to fight for the specific things that matter to their electors.

 We are very different to the other parties. See my views on the decriminalisation of drugs to solve the heroin problem in the borough. I will use council resources to generate more money.

See my vision for an East End Wonderland every year in Victoria Park.

I will introduce free breakfast clubs for primary school kids and after-school “Moses” clubs to bring together children from all backgrounds (Moses is a prophet to the Jews, Christians and Muslims).

I want grammar schools for the academically-gifted children and trade schools for those of a practical disposition so that they can learn the real skills they need to earn good money in the trades.

I will support small businesses in the borough by easing the bureaucracy and making the council more responsive. I have been in business for most of my life so I know what it is like. And I will always stand up for Canary Wharf and oppose EU interference. The City gave me my start in life – I started a business providing the plants for their offices.

I will support genuine civic groups as long as they are for the whole community, to promote integration rather than separation.

The conduct of the council meetings is a disgrace. UKIP will restore order and dignity to the proceedings.

I will bring in forensic accountants to go over the books and look for asset stripping and misappropriation, and I will prosecute those responsible. Those accountants will also find me millions of pounds of savings and I will be ruthless in cutting out waste.

I will support the arts in the borough and will find a permanent site for Old Flo.

Do I Have Bengali Support and Candidates?

I know a lot of Bangladeshis – some of them are my next-door neighbours. They have promised me their vote because like the rest of the community they are fed up with the current system. Why should they be any different? Their kids are also being targeted by the heroin pushers. So yes, I have Bengali support. But no, we do not yet have any Bengali candidates. If anyone from that community is interested in standing for UKIP please contact me.

We only formed the UKIP branch in December, so we are starting from behind. We do not have the local structure and activist base that the other parties have. We have set ourselves the goal of finding twenty candidates – one for each ward – so that everyone in Tower Hamlets who wants to vote for UKIP can do so. That would be a massive achievement.

Second Preference Votes

We are in this to win. I want people’s first preference votes only. If you want UKIP and the change that we will bring then you should vote only for me and my councillor candidates. If you absolutely must vote for your old party – Tory or Labour – then please lend me your second preference votes (and please give our councillors one of your votes on that ballot). We are not instructing our supporters to give their second preference votes to anyone.

I am getting the support of working class people, Conservatives, Labour, and also from people who have never voted before. Our challenge is to get enough of the people who have given up on politics to register to vote. Our first flyer simply has UKIP on it and the contact details for the voter registration department at the council.

The following is from the Tower Hamlets Ukip website:

My Plan

  • Zero tolerance on heroin to protect our youth.
  • Free breakfast clubs and school dinners for primary school children.
  • East End Wonderland at Victoria park to raise funds for open spaces.
  •  “Moses clubs” in all schools to bring the different races and religions together, with special activity programmes during the holidays.
  • Quickly create new primary schools by using existing college buildings.
  • Grammar schools for the academically gifted and trade and technical schools for those of a more practical disposition.
  • I want community integration rather than segregation.
  • My office will be fully transparent and accountable.
  • I will bring in forensic accountants to look for asset stripping and misappropriated funds, and I will prosecute those responsible.
  • I will promote culture and art in the borough and find a permanent site for Old Flo.
  • I will support businesses, for example with a late license for Brick Lane.
  • I will always stand up for Canary Wharf and oppose EU interference in our vital financial services industry.
  • I will replace the mayoral dictatorship with a fully democratic system.
  • I will cut open the belly of this beast for everyone to look inside.

Budget savings to implement my plans

My accountants will find millions of pounds in savings by cutting unnecessary spending. But the following “quick wins” can be implemented straight away.

  • Abolish unnecessary expenditure on faith buildings.
  • Abolish “mother tongue” lessons.
  • Abolish the mayoral car and highly-paid advisors.
  • Stop the translation of information into foreign languages, removing the need for council-funded translators.
  • Scrap the East End Life propaganda newspaper.

Personal message from Nicholas

Dear Voter,

I’m aware of the ups and downs of life and how difficult it is to cope with the austerity measures that we are all experiencing, be it on an individual basis or from a family or business perspective. Let me explain to you my political position. In some ways I go further than Labour when it comes to delivering social protection. In other ways my policies are more conservative than those promised by the Conservatives.

I truly believe that the basic human needs – heating, eating and housing – must be affordable to the community, especially where children are concerned. For example, children cannot learn if they are underfed and this is unfortunately happening in our borough. Hence my commitment regarding the school breakfast clubs. A community is assessed not on how well the rich live but on how well we look after the less fortunate among us.

I’ve been in business for most of my life and I understand how much we need good businesses to create jobs and pay taxes, which is why I support the growth and expansion of the business and financial districts in the borough, and I will help them above and beyond expectations.

The middle section of my politics is libertarian – the philosophy that places the highest value on personal freedom and limited government. More liberty helps us all to achieve more, to be happier and healthier, and it will make the community a better place to live in. I will integrate libertarianism with modern-day politics to confront the problems that we face today.

The national leadership of UKIP does not dictate our policy in local government but leaves us free to do what we need to in the local setting. UKIP is the fastest growing party in the UK because it is for everyone, especially the working man and woman. We believe that if you work then you should be better off. When we run the borough you will benefit. When we run the country it will be strong once again.

I was born and bred in the East End. I am old school, but my life experiences set me apart from the schoolboys that have been running the borough. My promises set out above will breathe new life into the borough, making it a better place to live and work. Our history, and our multicultural diverse community is what makes Tower Hamlets one of the most dynamic places in the world and one of the most interesting places to live and work.

Thank you for reading this, and I hope you will support my campaign for the greater good of our local community.

Love East End. Vote UKIP. Vote Nicholas McQueen for Mayor. 

Read Full Post »

A couple of months ago the commenter ‘imran’ left these observations on this blog:

The stats are stacked against Biggs. Lutfur doesn’t need dead voters to turn up, just all the Bangladeshi uncles and unties would be enough. Based on the assumptions below for 100,000 voters in TH, I’ve worked out Rahman would get 24,790 votes and John Biggs only 13,325. 

White British make up 45% of the population of which 20% are active voters. 90% of them vote for Biggs and 1% vote for Rahman. Bangladeshi make up 35% of the population of which 80% are active voters. 15% of them vote for Biggs and 80% vote for Rahman.

Others – Non Muslim make up 15% of the population of which 10% are active voters. 60% vote for Biggs and 20% vote for Rahman. Others – Muslim make up 5% of the population of which 50% are active voters. 5% vote for Biggs and 80% vote for Rahman. 

It’s hard to see how Biggs can win, there will have to be a 50% plus turnout of the white British voters and 90% plus of them will need to vote for him. He also will needs to get at least 15% of the Bengali vote and 60% of the other non-Muslim vote.

I liked this comment and I hope Imran will be pleased to know that I regularly refer to it when people ask me whether Lutfur Rahman will win in May.

The calculations are a bit ‘back of a fag packet’ but they have some logic nonetheless.

But what Imran didn’t factor in was Nigel Farage and Ukip.

The turnout for the mayoral and council vote on May 22 will be bolstered by the European Parliament elections the same day. And the European issue is of course pretty prominent right now. Many think Ukip might even win the Euro elections in the UK.

Until last December, Ukip had no organisational presence in Tower Hamlets, but then they formed a branch in the borough. And then they started looking for candidates to stand for the council. And then they decided to go for the Big One, the mayoralty itself.

They won’t win it (although who am I to say..) but they will probably have a bearing on the overall result.

With a bit of targeted publicity in the Advertiser and the Wharf, they’ll reach the very many disillusioned who haven’t bothered to vote in previous elections.

This will boost the “white British” vote that Imran referred to.

The question then becomes how does this affect John Biggs’s chances?

Well, John does need a higher turnout than the 23 per cent in October 2010 when Lutfur won, that’s for sure. But he also needs first and second preference votes.

I suspect the Tories, who have announced Chris Wilford as their man, are probably whispering to their voters to place a second preference number 2 next to John Biggs’s name.

But will that be the same for Ukip’s voters? The ‘get Lutfur out’ strategy demands they should but will Ukip get that message out?

Maybe that’s one we should ask their candidate. And this is where it could get interesting. Because the hack and wannabe spin doctor in me thinks they’ve chosen someone who could demand attention from the national press, or at least from the Evening Standard and BBC London.

So let me introduce you to the Ukip candidate for Tower Hamlets mayor: Nicholas McQueen (or as he might soon be described, the cousin of late fashion mogul Alexander McQueen).

nicholasmcqueen_base

The Tower Hamlets Ukip site has this about him:

Nicholas McQueen has been chosen as the candidate for mayor of Tower Hamlets for the UK Independence Party.  Nick is a real Eastender.   He was born and grew up in the East End, which he refers to as “his village”. He has lived a varied and interesting life. He is a self-made businessman, having started a successful flower business with his wife of 34 years – Pauline. Early in life he pursued his dream of becoming a commercial pilot and flew in Northern and Central America. He wrote a children’s book which was turned into a musical. He invented a flower vending machine.

Nick is well-known and liked across the borough.  He says of himself that he is “fighting for the multi-cultural, multi-religious society of London’s East End. A community is assessed NOT on how well the rich live, but on how well we look after the less fortunate.”

Mark Webber – Branch Secretary of Tower Hamlets UKIP – released the following statement: “We are very excited about Nick’s candidacy. Nick is so well known in his community that we already have a large number votes in the bag.  Even before the press coverage has begun word has gone out on the “tom toms” – to use Nick’s phrase – and the response has been fantastic.  Nick will be the dark horse in this election.  I want to once again emphasise to people who are not registered to vote that they must contact the council as soon as possible.”

The site also says he will be standing for the council in Stepney Green. It adds this extra information about him:

Vote UKIP Nicholas McQueen Cpl.  I will fight for YOU!

Nicholas is a family man and has been married for 34 years. He has a daughter and two grandchildren. Today he is fighting for the multi-cultural, multi-religious society of London’s East End. A community is assessed NOT on how well the rich live, but on how well we look after the less fortunate.

He was born and raised in London’s East End.  In his early years Nick boxed for St. Georges and Poplar District.  He attended Caterham boy’s boarding school, played rugby for Caterham and was a member of the ATC.

    • Nicholas is the creator of McQueen’s Florist.
    • At age 26 he became a commercial, multi-instrument pilot, flying in North & Central America.
    • On his return to London he created Carole McQueen Florists (specialists in TV sets and funerals).
    • 1996/97 he was the creator of the world’s first fresh flower vending machine.
    • 1998 he created Bulbworld the children’s book.
    • 1999 Nick co wrote and directed Bulbworld the musical at The Royal London Palladium.
    • He designed the set for his cousin Alexander McQueen at London’s Christchurch.
    • 2000 McQueen’s Publishers represented Great Britain at the Frankfurt Bookfair.

Ukip also has this clarion call for candidates:

Could you stand for election to the council as a UKIP candidate?  We need decent, ordinary people from across the borough who agree with what we stand for to put their names forward as ward candidates.  Standing for election is a form of public service.  If you are elected you must be prepared to represent your ward on the council and to work on behalf of your electors.  UKIP do not operate a party whip in local government so UKIP councillors are more like independents because they do not have to follow a party line.

We are not ashamed to make this appeal.  UKIP is growing rapidly across the country.  We are now consistently polling in third place in the national polls.  There are many thousands of people across Tower Hamlets who want to vote for UKIP.  We must give them that opportunity.  Please note that all candidates will be carefully vetted.  You may have read in the news about some trouble we have had recently with some of our candidates.  Please do not apply if you have racist or extreme views.  Former members of the BNP, EDL and similar organisations are forbidden from standing as candidates by the Party Constitution.  Contact the Secretary for more information.

I think this could be fun.

 

 

Read Full Post »

I’m a bit late with this one but it needs documenting nonetheless.

The Tories have at last selected their man (for yes, it is a man: for all the talk about racism in Tower Hamlets, is there also a problem with sexism?) to fight Lutfur Rahman and John Biggs for Tower Hamlets Mayor.

Dr Anwara Ali, the former Labour councillor who defected to the Tories after she was moved from her Bow West seat in 2010, had been a contender but it wasn’t to be. Personally, I think that’s shame. Anwara did get some stick from me many years back when I accused her of being too silent in Denise Jones’s cabinet, but after that she improved greatly. I think she’s articulate and as a GP in Brick Lane, she’s respected and widely liked.

Being a Bengali, she’d also have taken some votes from Lutfur.

On that note, there was a bit a row about who would represent the Conservatives on May 22, with opinion divided between those who thought ‘get Lutfur out at all costs’ was the most important strategy, and those who thought ‘this is an election and we’re Tories, we need to take this seriously and treat it as any other battle’. (And also whisper to people to place John Biggs as their second preference vote.)

The latter camp won out and we therefore have a very serious candidate, who (and I mean no disrespect here at all)  almost no one has ever heard of.

So let me introduce you to:

Chris_Wilford_At_Canary_Wharf

Tower Hamlets Conservatives have selected Chris Wilford as their Mayoral Candidate

Chris lives in Bow resident, and currently works in public policy for a leading international body. Previously, Chris has worked as a recruitment consultant in the financial services, placing candidates from new graduates to global directors. Before this, he worked on education projects for both the British Council and the House of Lords.

After his selection, Chris said “Like so many others from around the world I have made Tower Hamlets my home. This is a great place to live, with its history, diversity, and dynamism. We are privileged to live here as we go about our business amidst the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s great cities.

“Yet there is one shadow that looms large – Mayor Lutfur Rahman. We are all familiar with his expenses, his taxis, and not least his photograph. And I for one tired of the stories of cronyism and waste whilst our borough faces up to some of the most significant challenges in the country in areas such as child poverty and unemployment.

“There are many reasons why I want to be Mayor of this borough. I want to see more transparency; more pothole repairs; cleaner streets; proper and meaningful consultation on development; a National Centre for Islamic Finance; a jobs for growth strategy; more police on our streets; less Mayoral advisors and a lower council tax. Above all, I want to be Mayor because I want to mend our broken local politics and build a better borough.

“I am grateful to local Conservatives for choosing me as their candidates, and will be working hard to win this May.”

Tower Hamlets Conservative Association chairmen Neil King (Poplar and Limehouse) and Matt Smith (Bethnal Green and Bow), who jointly organised the selection process, said “we congratulate Chris Wilford on his selection as our Tower Hamlets Mayoral candidate. Chris came through a strong field to be selected with the overwhelming support of local Conservatives, and will make be an outstanding Mayor of this borough.”

So that was the Tory press release.

This is Chris in his own words:

Chris Wilford

Policy & Public Affairs Manager at the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators




I started my career at the British Council. I left to complete a part-time MSc at the LSE, working as a recruitment consultant and parliamentary researcher during my studies. Upon completion, I joined the policy team of the professional body for the recruitment industry and have recently moved to the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

Career Summary:

I started my career at the British Council. I left to complete a part-time MSc at the LSE, working as a recruitment consultant and parliamentary researcher during my studies. Upon completion, I joined the policy team of the professional body for the recruitment industry. I have recently taken up the post of Policy & Public Affairs Manager at the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, and I wrote my Profile when working at REC.

Academic/Professional Qualifications:

MSc Media and Communications, London School of Economics 
BA (Hons) Film Studies and American Studies, King’s College London, 
Member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations

How did you get into Public Affairs?

I had worked as a recruitment consultant and as a parliamentary researcher in the House of Lords whilst completing a part-time postgraduate degree at the London School of Economics. With a real understanding of the recruitment industry, as well as a sound understanding of politics and research experience, I was well suited to work in the policy and public affairs function of the largest trade association for the recruitment industry. My experience on the frontline has really helped me in dealing with members and I have really developed my skills in the role.

What does your current role entail on a day to day basis?

I check my emails and phone messages before engaging members on a variety of issues. This can involve engaging journalists, civil servants and politicians to put across the view of the industry. At the moment, I am: writing a number of consultation responses; running an election for the position of Chair of one of our sector groups; and organising a number of focus groups with the Department of Health on the clinical governance of locum doctors. I am also working with the editor of our magazine on a forthcoming feature on the public sector workforce, one of the areas I am responsible for. Speaking, writing, reading in other words!

Working in a trade association, how do you engage members in public affairs and policy issues?

We engage members in public affairs and policy issues through member events, webinars, polls, focus groups and meetings. We often hit the road and a key part of our job is getting members in front of decision makers. This facilitation of engagement is an increasingly important part of our job.

Which campaign/issue are you most proud to have worked on?

The campaign I am most proud of is our on-going activity on NHS VAT schemes. This is a complex area which cuts across employment and tax legislation. I have been working on this for months and it is an area of deep concern for members. My blogs, letters I have drafted to ministers on behalf of senior REC figures, presentations at conferences, together with countless meetings with members and government figures have really built momentum which culminated in the REC contributing to a major ITV News at 10 investigation. We had literally set the news agenda and senior government ministers are actively engaging with the REC on the issue. We are close to a conclusion and continue to drive activity.

What do you enjoy about working in public affairs?

I enjoy the buzz and, as a news junkie, I relish being paid to keep abreast of current affairs. Working for a membership body, I also engage on strategic issues on behalf of our members. It does feel like the work is really important and it is great to play my part on important issues such as the future of the NHS workforce.

How important is political party involvement to a public affairs career?

It helps. There are plenty of people out there who do not have any involvement but I do think it adds a valuable extra dimension. I was Chairman of a major political society at LSE and I am currently Deputy Chairman of an Association in the East End of London. I was also the parliamentary researcher for a government Peer in the House of Lords. I have an extensive network which has come in really handy for getting the full picture of what is going on out there. It has also helped when we are in tight spots, for instance getting speakers for our events at Party Conferences.

As a former recruitment professional, what advice would you give to job seekers (at any level)?

Get yourself out there. We often hear of personal brands and profiles. These are really important but you shouldn’t be scared of advertising that brand! I would also say use a good recruiter (well, given my background, I would, wouldn’t I?!). The amount of times that I have heard people have been looking for jobs for months and then, after getting in touch with a recruitment consultancy, they secure a role in weeks is ridiculous. They have the networks and the contacts and, if you are not right for one opportunity, they will keep you in mind for another. Finally, do your research – evaluate what you want from your next role, where you want to get to and what you want to learn. Take your time, be measured and make sure you have a plan.

What value does post-graduate study provide to a public affairs career?

For me, it added real value. It allowed me to build on the cultural and historical grasp of political persuasion that I had gained through my first degree, as well as the opportunity to hone my writing and research skills further. I would say that the educational institution matters as well. The contacts I made and the activities I was exposed to at the LSE, one of the world’s leading social science institutions, really helped as I sought to get into public affairs.

What are the challenges for the public affairs industry over the next five years?

I think the industry has to adapt to the challenges of the digital world. How can you shape the agenda across a variety of different platforms all at the same time? In this environment, where everyone has a comment or can position themselves as an expert, and one tweet can destroy months of activity, demonstrating the value you can add and leveraging off line and online networks to achieve results will be vital. Those who can cut through the huge volumes of information out there to provide clear, concise analysis and drive targeted, effective campaigns amidst a diverse mediascape will be the winners.

What’s your prediction for the next General Election result?

Conservative majority (just).

Quick-Fire Round  
Favourite restaurant for a business lunch Browns Covent Garden
LinkedIN or Twitter? Twitter
Tweet your career-to-date in 140 characters or less Policy professional at the trade association for the UK’s £26 billion recruitment industry, former search & selection specialist, LSE alum
What’s your Media diet? Guido (order order), Telegraph, Spectator, Economist, Guardian, BBC
Favourite Film Badlands
Guilty pleasure House of Cards (the original)

By the way, I also hear UKIP are building a branch in Tower Hamlets ahead of the European elections on May 22 as well. They’re thinking of fielding a few people, which could make it even spicier..

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: