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How Businesses Can Engage With The Labour Party

3 insights from our recent event with Luke Francis, Associate Partner at Pagefield. 

Britain is headed to the polls.

In the so-called "election year" where some 1.5 billion people around the world will cast a vote, the UK will join the collective on 4 July 2024 in a snap election.

For businesses, there's some uncertainty around what lies ahead. And many leaders are looking at how they can best prepare for a potential change in government.

We recently held an event about this very matter, where Luke Francis, an Associate Partner at public affairs and communications agency, Pagefield and former member of staff at the Labour Party, shared his insights on how businesses can engage with the Labour Party.

Here are three key takeaways for your business.

This event was hosted prior to the announcement of the snap election.

Understand the priorities of an incoming Labour government…

… and how best to engage with them. 

Developing connections with key figures within the party and becoming a "trusted voice" can take significant time for organisations. And while some organisations have been investing in these relationships for 15+ years, others are only now at the very start.

"More often than not, leaders will say they want to engage because of regulatory or legislative problems, issues with certain markets not functioning 'the way they should be', or how the government's fallen short. This answers a different question." - Luke Francis

Instead, by first understanding the priorities of a party, your organisation can identify specific ways (and subject matters) in which it can offer the market guidance the current or incoming ministry needs. Establishing yourself as that trusted advisor staff and ministers can lean on.

Takeaway: the questions, "what are their needs" and "what is my ask?" must be businesses' first consideration. This enables you to find middle ground where you can offer genuine, valuable advice on matters of mutual interest. And transition from an external voice to an internal stakeholder.

Offer the right solution to the right people.

Regardless of whether your business has an "ask" now, or if the priority is create relationships between the party and your organisation, offering realistic and actionable solutions is key - rather than solely anecdotal or analytical input. This means identifying where and how you can provide a tangible deliverable.

"The Labour Party has become far more disciplined and well-drilled over the last two years in terms of focus on delivery and the idea of a mission-based government." - Luke Francis

Luke reinforced the need to know who the decision-makers are within the party, and those who will help influence change. These may be the perceived "second tier" of the shadow cabinet, but in reality, they're often easy to reach and have sway as advisors in the right circles. Enabling you to communicate accurately and effectively.

Takeaway: an outcome-based mindset will help you garner a strong reputation. Labour is looking for true results in their core missions, particularly early on in their term. And for tailored communications, review who you can connect with in APPGs where the Labour Party may canvas for support and input.

Maintain consistent visibility.

For many businesses, their issue won't be on the agenda for the Labour party - or at least not in the immediate of a potential election. As with any new leader (in any field) generating tangible progress will be of the utmost priority. Meaning many organisations won't see their policy or legislative focus enter rhetoric, but that doesn't mean you should disappear into the eaves.

"This isn't a Labour Party that wants to rip everything out by the roots and start again. And in terms of influencing the manifesto, that ship has sailed. But manifestos are always more interesting for what they don’t talk about than what they do." - Luke Francis

Where much of Labour's manifesto remains vague, businesses could well see the opportunity to consult on any number of points and influence the future of the party's actions. Even if this isn't a possibility, Luke urges businesses to maintain visibility in the event that priorities, decision-makers or ministries change.

Takeaway: treat your business-governmental relationship like any other working connection. Maintaining consistent visibility will keep you and your organisation's name top of mind should the climate shift, ensuring you already have your foot in the door when the time presents itself.

Conclusion

Current projections aside, building relationships takes time, investment and dedication. Regardless of the outcomes of the 4 July election, cultivating a reputation as an organisation to have "on-side" can start now.

It's worth remembering that there are hundreds - if not more - of businesses currently aiming to make their mark with the Labour Party, and successfully standing out as a reliable source of counsel requires strategic understanding of the manifesto, and where those priorities lie.

As Luke highlights, offering tangible deliverables, connecting with the right people across the party and committees, and offering a consistent presence is a simple but effective formula to help get your business on the radar.

The public affairs practice at Hanson Search is international, from Westminster to Washington, we are global experts. Since our launch in 2005, we have built a successful track record of working across key markets in public affairs, policy, government relations and communications for consultancies, corporates, trade associations, think-tanks and charities. If you're looking for public or government affairs talent, get in touch with us today.

Posted on 14.06.2024

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