Labour has more candidates with a public affairs background than the other parties combined, according to a new study by Polimapper.
Drawing on our extensive database of candidate profiles, the research shows that working in public affairs, communications and campaigns is a common professional background among parliamentary candidates.
As of November 26th 2023, 54 candidates worked in either an in-house public affairs, communications or campaigns role (29), or for a public affairs or communications consultancy (25).
Labour takes the lead
Labour candidates account for more than half of these, with 16 candidates having a connection with in-house public affairs, and 12 connected with a consultancy. Among the Labour candidates are Jade Botterill (Ossett and Denby Dale), a public affairs manager for 38 Degrees, Jessica Asato (Lowestoft), head of policy and public affairs for Barnardo’s, and Jack Abbott (Ipswich), a senior account manager at PLMR.
Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in public affairs
Our research reveals that 5 Conservative candidates hold in-house public affairs roles. A notable example is Charlie Dewhirst (Bridlington and the Wolds), who serves as chief policy advisor at the National Pig Association.
Additionally, 7 have experience with political consultancies, including Tom Pridham (Battersea), who is a senior director of public affairs at FTI consulting.
There are 6 Liberal Democrat candidates with in-house roles, including Daniel Callaghan, who will contest Rishi Sunak’s Richmond and Northallerton seat, and currently serves as the head of public affairs at the Royal Society.
Vikas Aggarawal, who will run against Jeremy Corbyn in Islington North, is another Lib Dem with a notable public affairs background, serving as the regional head of public affairs for ACCA. Vikki Slade (Mid Dorset and North Poole) is one of 6 with a consultancy background, serving as an associate director for Cratus.
Polimapper’s Class of 24 White Paper
Last week, we published a major report into the backgrounds of prime candidates — defined as a successor to an existing MP or a challenger in a key target seat that would be vulnerable under current polling.
The Class of 24: An analysis of the parliamentary candidates set to become our next MPs, found that a professional background working in and around politics remains the dominant hinterland of choice for our next generation of MPs.
Some 76 of the 275 prime candidates in the Class of 24 (28%) have spent the majority of their professional lives working ‘in and around’ politics. This compares to just five (1.8%) with a background in clinical medicine, or fifteen (5.5%) who can be regarded as having front line experience in science and technology.
The public affairs and professional politician crossover
In light of these findings, we find a clear crossover between working in public affairs and becoming a professional politician. By analysing and categorising our bank of candidate biographies, we can see a clear trend between working in public affairs and holding ambitions of being elected to parliament. Our research shows that people who have been councillors, MEPs and even sat previously as an MP will often find a role working in public affairs, giving clients the benefit of their experience, while waiting for an opportunity to get another elected role.