'New breed' lobbyists out in force at Tory think tank launch
Nick Faith, Will Tanner and Neil O’Brien are the key figures behind Onward.
A host of senior public affairs professionals billed as a 'new breed' rubbed shoulders with Tory ministers at the eagerly-anticipated launch of a centre-right think tank last night.
Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson and environment secretary Michael Gove were key speakers at the launch of Onward, with Davidson grabbing the headlines by advising her colleagues that “sometimes as Tories we just look a bit dour”.
The think tank is being run by Theresa May’s former deputy policy chief Will Tanner, who recently left Portland to take up the post. It is the brainchild of former Number 10 adviser-turned Tory MP Neil O’Brien and WPI Strategy director Nick Faith. A former Policy Exchange communications supremo at Policy Exchange, Faith featured in PAN’s recent list of ‘new movers and shakers in the UK public affairs world’.
Among the senior politicians turning up for the launch in the Churchill Room in the House of Common were cabinet ministers Chris Grayling and Liz Truss, junior ministers including Margot James and Chloe Smith and former ministers such as Amber Rudd.
Special advisers including Paul Harrison from Number 10 and Poppy Trowbridge from the Treasury were also in the room, along with various lobby journalists.
From the public affairs world, Weber Shandwick public affairs chief Joey Jones was in attendance as were Faith and Sean Worth from WPI Strategy, Ameet Gill and Lizzie Loudon from Hanbury Strategy and Caroline Preston from Stonehaven. In a feature published six months ago, Public Affairs News identified WPI Strategy, Hanbury and Stonehaven as “disruptor” agencies who are shaking up the market.
One source in the room noted that "the older agency heads were notably absent from an event which had been billed as one of the most eagerly anticipated launches of a new centre right movement in years".
The source also claimed: "It shows how a new breed of people in the agency world are much better networked than some of the more established types who may still be trying to portray themselves as well connected to the future of the Conservative party."