Sector: Government Relations and Public Affairs

Government Reshuffle: The Opening Act

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When it comes to Cabinet reshuffles, most politicians are well versed in the day’s proceedings. An anxious wait, a scurry to Number 10, a forced smile to the press – regardless of a promotion, demotion, or full-blown defenestration. As some ministers wait to know their fate, few would have woken up this morning and accurately guessed how the day would unfold. Before most had the chance to make a cup of coffee, Rishi Sunak had already rolled the dice on one of the greatest political gambles we’ve seen in recent years.

Westminster has been awash with reshuffle rumours since party conference season. With the Conservatives trailing heavily in the polls – and key events such as the Autumn Statement fast approaching – there was little doubt that Sunak would reshuffle his top team to prepare for the impending general election and once again attempt to reset his fortunes. Plus, with Suella Braverman’s controversial article in The Times critiquing the police without Number 10 approval, the Prime Minister seized his opportunity to stamp his authority on the government machine.

Braverman’s sacking would have no doubt stolen today’s broadsheet headlines if it weren’t for Sunak’s “dead cat strategy” – a Cabinet appointment leaving SW1 in total shock. Enter the stage – David Cameron. The former Prime Minister was this morning created a life peer in order to take up the position of Foreign Secretary, in an attempt to reclaim the centre ground from Labour.

The reshuffle of the great offices of state also raises serious policy dilemmas. The new Home Secretary, James Cleverly has publicly lobbied against Braverman’s decision to place 1,700 asylum seekers on the former RAF Wethersfield, a decision which will now fall under his remit – leaving the Government’s immigration policy here in a somewhat grey area. Meanwhile, only five weeks ago, Cameron was scathing in his criticism of Sunak’s decision to scrap HS2. Coupled with his own premiership denoting a period of closer ties between the UK and China – in stark contrast to this Government’s current position – most will watch with wonder as to how the Government will dutifully line up behind Sunak’s vision and reconcile its differences.

Elsewhere, Liz Truss’ ally and former Deputy Prime Minister Thérèse Coffey has been dismissed as Environment Secretary, while Conservative rising star Laura Trott has been appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Victoria Atkins will be tasked with attempting to cut NHS waiting lists in her new position as Health Secretary, with Steve Barclay taking on the top job at DEFRA. This reshuffle has so far been characterised by bringing Sunak’s friends and allies closer into the tent, while promoting fresh faces that will likely play well in the pre-election media rounds.

As the week continues, we will expect to see further changes at the junior ministerial level. That said, we’ve already had multiple resignations from those who aren’t contesting the next general election– veteran Schools Minister Nick Gibb has left the DfE while Colchester MP Will Quince has stepped down as Minister of State for Health, having announced in the summer his intention not to seek re-election. For others, it presents the chance to refocus their attention onto an electoral footing, doubling down efforts to shore up their slim constituency majorities.

But there will be little chance to dwell on the changes that are being made. Next week’s Autumn Statement will bring home to ministers the challenging fiscal framework they now must work in – and while Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is safe for now, he will be fully aware his day of judgement will come next Wednesday at the despatch box.

The show must go on. Nervous waits will continue, while a few glasses will be raised in quiet celebration amongst those who have climbed the greasy pole. Yet few things in politics are certain – David Cameron’s return emphasises that political destinies are never straight forward, and the stage is constantly set for a triumphant encore, or a crippling opening night.

Authored by Ed Lavelle, Senior Account Manager, Public Affairs

Party conference season delivers anything but bread and butter politics

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Grayling UK FMCG Policy

Now that the dust has settled on party conference season, it would be remiss to say that FMCG policy was high up the agenda for either of the main two UK political parties. While HS2 dominated proceedings in Manchester, Labour Conference provided a platform for Kier Starmer to woo the business community during his Leader’s speech – albeit covered in (hopefully biodegradable) glitter. But there was very little by way of concrete policy for the sector to get its teeth into.

Perhaps it is to be expected that party conference season focuses on the big-ticket items for Sunak and Starmer as they seek to define their approach to the issues that will likely define the forthcoming election campaign – housing, energy, and transport, to name a few. Getting into the weeds of policies including Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), Deposit Return Schemes (DRS), and restrictions to high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) products might not be too palatable for businesses or voters still navigating a cost-of-living crisis.

In fact, Rishi Sunak’s surprise move to ban smoking for the next generation was the closest either party got to outlining an approach to FMCG policy, and even this announcement was directly linked to easing the cost burden on the NHS. A cynic might even suggest this could be a ‘legacy’ policy for a Prime Minister firmly against the ropes.

But just how much is the decision to kick the can down the road damaging progress? Continued government delays to waste reforms have left businesses millions of pounds out of pocket, whilst Labour’s lack of clarity on recycling and HFSS policy makes it difficult for the FMCG sector to develop marketing strategies and plan investments.

To focus in on food, it has been six months since Henry Dimbleby quit his position as the UK’s food tsar amidst anger at a lack of strategy from the government on health and diet. Dimbleby, though, remains a formidable force, and following Conservative Conference, criticised the government’s decision to prioritise smoking regulation over the growing obesity crisis.

It wouldn’t be controversial to say there has been a lack of ambition to develop a coherent, collaborative approach to food policy, with the current government using the guise that any intervention will amount to ‘nanny-state’ politicking. For now, it seems the Conservative Party is keen to brush any policies that could increase the cost of the average shopping basket under the rug, to avoid the potential voter backlash.

On the other hand, the Labour Party signalled a more interventionist approach to tackling the obesity crisis and, at its conference, major retailers lined up to voice their support for mandatory targets and legislation to tackle unhealthy food – arguing that a voluntary approach isn’t going far enough.

While Labour’s shadow public health minister Preet Gill told conference a new ‘health mission delivery board’ would be established as part of a crackdown on HFSS sales and advertising, there remains very little – to pardon the pun – meat on the bones of Labour’s policy proposals. Labour will be aware that backing Dimbleby’s sweeping reforms could risk accusations of putting further strain on the pockets of consumers, and as such, the party remains paralysed on this issue – on the one hand pushing manufacturers to go further to reformulate, and on the other, avoiding saying, well, anything at all really.

So, what about waste and recycling reforms? Both EPR and DRS remain firmly on the backburner while businesses seek to understand exactly how the reforms will work together. Consistent household collections – or ‘seven bins’ – has been villainised by the Prime Minister himself, despite a similar policy proving hugely successful in Wales.

Given how divisive these reforms have become – with DRS becoming the first skirmish of the Internal Market Act – it seems unlikely that the technicalities of food and packaging packing policy will come into the limelight before the election. For Labour, a lack of resource in Shadow Ministerial teams may mean policy cannot be fully formed until, and if, the party gets into government.

But still, as parties’ wargame their election strategies, it is crucial to engage with influencers across the political sphere to outline the technicalities and genuine business impacts of policies impacting the sector.

On HFSS it seems likely we’ll see a change in direction to a more interventionist approach once any new government is in post and has got past the election hurdle, whereas packaging policy remains an open door ahead of DRS and EPR ‘go live’ dates in October 2025. But we know there’s an ambition to do more to boost recyclability and reform the waste system, so what will come next? It’s critical to engage now, to help shape and scope the debate, before the future direction of policy travel becomes too far set in stone.

Polling should always be taken with a pinch of salt, but it seems increasingly likely the UK will welcome its first Labour Government in 15 years – so don’t be slow to forge those relationships. With Starmer’s new-look Labour Party there is a legitimate opportunity for businesses to engage in the policymaking process, and to highlight to positive initiatives underway in the FMCG sector – whether promoting healthier options, low-and-no alcohol alternatives, or innovative packing formats.

At Grayling, our specialist FMCG team is well-versed in navigating this complex and volatile policy landscape. We are proud to help organisations:

  • Target political influencers and media to highlight the need for a supportive policy framework.
  • Navigate a complicated regulatory environment, identifying risks and opportunities on the horizon.
  • Hero the positive consumer story to tell on sustainable diets and packaging, building brand affinity.

To speak with our dedicated FMCG team, please contact Michael Broughton via

Labour Party Conference: Focused on winning

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As the curtain closes on Labour Party Conference 2023 – possibly the last before the next general election – we look at the key themes that businesses should take away.

Last year’s gathering took place against a backdrop of that Liz Truss Budget and a government on the verge of collapse. Labour’s lead in the polls was in ‘crushing landslide’ territory and, perhaps for the first time, there was a real sense of expectation rather than hope. The atmosphere was verging on giddy.

Labour Party Conference 2023 was last year’s older, more mature sibling. The watchword was ‘focus’. Rumours abound that the Shadow Cabinet, backbenchers and PPCs were under strict instructions to limit their refreshments and avoid any potentially compromising situations. It seemed to work; everyone was on their best behaviour.

The message discipline was impressive, and the extensive courting of business by Labour over the last year appeared to have paid off. Businesses were there in their droves, causing some members to mutter that the atmosphere was overly corporate. Senior Labour staffers didn’t mind, though. This was by far the most lucrative conference for the party in recent years, providing an important boost to the coffers ahead of the next election.

In response to the Prime Minister’s backtracking on net zero targets and HS2, shadow ministers confidently and consistently argued for policy stability above all, even if that means making some difficult calls such as not revoking recently awarded oil and gas licenses. In emphasising the economic arguments for ambitious and stable decarbonisation targets to drive private investment, Labour impressed businesses and avoided the trap that Rishi Sunak set last week.

Conference appeared to be a crystalising moment in Labour’s offer to business: we’ll provide the structures, policy certainty and stable government; we expect you to partner with us to drive significant investment. In a “third way” moment that would have made Tony Blair proud, Keir Starmer presented this in his speech as “not state control, not pure free markets…but a genuine partnership”.

The speech, while perhaps not delivered with the same verve and punch as last year’s, presented a clearer vision than we had previously heard from Starmer. That vision is taking shape around the idea of “national renewal”. The central premise of his argument is that the UK is broken and entering an “age of insecurity”, where the forces of technology, economic weakness, movement of people, and climate change combine to demand a remodelling of the British state after 13 years of Conservative neglect.

This is not “sunlit uplands” by any means, more a sober diagnosis of the significant challenges that can be overcome with hard work – and a warning to the party faithful and the country that change will not happen overnight. There was a strong feeling amongst delegates that Labour needs to not just win the next election but win big and govern for at least 10 years.

The big ticket policy in the hour that Starmer spoke had been announced by Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves the day before in her surprisingly tubthumping speech. Labour’s plans to radically overhaul the planning system for critical national infrastructure and building 1.5m new homes, including using development corporations to overcome barriers, sound bold and risky given how local objections can cause political headaches.

Alongside this, there was plenty for Labour’s core voters to get their teeth into, from VAT on private schools to the appointment of a Covid corruption commissioner. Naturally this wasn’t enough for some on the left of the party, who would have preferred less talk of fiscal discipline and more radical investment in public services.

But if the aim of the conference was to present the party as united, serious and ready to govern, then Starmer and his team will feel it is mission accomplished. However, while there was strictly no complacency from the party leadership, expectations of party members are running high. The pressure is now on to deliver the majority that they expect, for which winning in Scotland will be key. Anything less will surely be seen as an enormous missed opportunity.

To chat to the team about your organisation’s Public Affairs strategy, contact Alex Dismore at

Grayling publica su informe sobre la Presidencia Española en el Consejo de la Unión Europea

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Grayling ha publicado su informe sobre la Presidencia Española en el Consejo de la Unión Europea. La Presidencia implica una posición de liderazgo clave en la Unión Europea, además tiene como objetivos principales el promover y defender los intereses comunes de todos los Estados miembros.

Por ello, durante estos seis meses, se espera que prioridades políticas de la UE como la transición verde y la adaptación ambiental, la reindustrialización de Europa, la digitalización, la inmigración, los derechos sociales, la unidad europea o la guerra de Ucrania capten la atención mediática y política.

Puedes descargar el informe en este enlace.

Diez respuestas a preguntas clave del 28M y del adelanto electoral del 23J

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Nuestro equipo de Asuntos Públicos ha preparado este compendio de respuestas a preguntas clave con el fin de que todos comprendamos mejor los significativos cambios en el panorama político español tras las elecciones locales y regionales del 28M, así como abordar perspectivas futuras de cara a las elecciones generales del próximo 23J. Puedes descargarlo en el este enlace.

Análisis de las elecciones locales y regionales de 2023: ¿la antesala de las elecciones generales?

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El departamento de asuntos públicos de Grayling ha elaborado un análisis para comprender las dinámicas y los resultados de las elecciones del 28M y del adelanto electoral 23J, con el fin de aportar datos e ideas clave para contribuir al debate y la reflexión sobre los cambios en el panorama político español. Puedes ver el análisis completo aquí.





































Grayling gestionará los Asuntos Públicos de la Fundación Ingenio

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Grayling España ha ampliado su cartera de clientes con la incorporación de la Fundación Ingenio, una organización sin ánimo de lucro, que busca fomentar la innovación y la sostenibilidad de la agricultura del Campo de Cartagena. La consultora, especializada en Comunicación y Asuntos Públicos, se encargará de gestionar la estrategia para conectar los objetivos e intereses de la Fundación Ingenio con la agenda pública.

La Fundación Ingenio nace en 2020, impulsada por 10.000 agricultores y más de 40 cooperativas agrícolas del campo de Cartagena, con el objetivo de poner en valor una agricultura familiar responsable, comprometida e innovadora, que lidere los avances de la ciencia y la tecnología para hacer del cultivo de alimentos un motor de sostenibilidad medioambiental, económica y social. Los agricultores que forman parte de esta organización están enraizados con la tierra, emparentados con el entorno, comprometidos con sus gentes y con un medio rural que defienden como modo de vida ancestral, para las familias de hoy y las generaciones futuras.

En Grayling tenemos el firme propósito de sumar esfuerzos al servicio de causas, ideas y proyectos que tengan un impacto positivo en la sociedad. Por lo tanto, nos enorgullece empezar a trabajar con la Fundación Ingenio y para el sector agrícola, pilar esencial de la economía española”, comenta Javier Corrales, director de Asuntos Públicos de Grayling en España.

La división de Asuntos Públicos de Grayling España tiene una sólida trayectoria en el ámbito de las Relaciones Institucionales y el lobby, un mercado con creciente relevancia en el ámbito de la consultoría estratégica. Asesora a diversas empresas de los sectores de tecnología, construcción, alimentación y bebidas, farmacéutico, energía, entre otros.

La coordinación del cliente se llevará a cabo desde las oficinas de Grayling en Madrid y quedará bajo la supervisión de Javier Corrales.

Para más información, por favor contacte con María José Cuerva a través de este email:

Grayling Analysis – 2023 Spanish General Election

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Our Spanish public affairs team has prepared a detailed analysis of the 2023 Spanish General Election. The analysis allows you to discover the political takeaways from July 23rd, with surprising results that will have consequences in the Spanish socio-political arena.

The Popular Party (centre-right party) was the most voted list, although Pedro Sánchez (the current president from the centre-left party, PSOE) is emerging as the main candidate for the investiture. However, a repeat election is an option that cannot be ruled out either.

Click here to read the analysis in full.

Interview with Sarina Kiayani, Senior Public Affairs Officer, Dogs Trust  

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At Grayling we wanted to shine a light on the incredible women in the Public Affairs industry and the work they do. 

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be posting a series of interviews with inspirational women across the Public Affairs industry, discussing their careers and their experiences so far, how we can make the industry more inclusive, welcoming and progressive – for both men and women – as well as their predictions for the year ahead in politics. 

This week, we spoke to Sarina Kiayani, Senior Public Affairs Officer at Dogs Trust.


Sarina Kiayani is a Senior Public Affairs Officer at Dogs Trust. She has previously worked in agency at FleishmanHillard and Dentons Global Advisors. She is an advocate of women’s issues and is currently Women’s Officer of Young Labour, Membership and Recruitment Lead of Labour in Communications and Social Media Officer of the London Young Fabians. 

What attracted you to a career in public affairs?
I was always very interested in politics, having studied it at A-Level and university. When I graduated, I knew that I wanted to work in politics but not for a particular party, so that’s how I ended up drawn to Public Affairs. It was actually an internship at Grayling in my second year of university that made me decide to work in Public Affairs!

What advice would you give to women who want a career public affairs?
Joining networking groups, such as Women in Public Affairs, and attending their events is a great way of speaking to people in the sector to get advice on tips on applications. It’s also good to build your own political profile, such as through attending events run by political organisations and writing blogs, and to keep up with the news and key events like the Budget.

What has been your career highlight to date? 
Working with Carolyn Harris MP as part of the Menopause APPG to successfully lobby the Government to cut the cost of HRT prescriptions for those going through menopause. Menopause affects 50% of the population, with many suffering adverse side effects and unable to access sufficient treatment due to high costs. Because of Carolyn and her amazing activism, access to menopause treatment has now become fairer and more open to those on lower incomes.

What are your predictions for the coming year in politics?
The Government has been flagging in the polls for a while, so I think we will see them trying to retain their voter base as much as possible – the immigration announcements are just the start of this. The content of the recent Budget was another indicator of this, but I expect there to be more of a wider focus on driving up economic productivity and keeping closer ties to businesses through regular engagement to avoid losing their support – which is good for Public Affairs professionals, I guess!

How can the public affairs industry deliver gender equity?
Producing surveys and action plans to identify where there are gaps in organisations on gender parity, and how this can be addressed. Also profiling women in the industry, through blogs and knowledge-sharing events. 

Balancing Innovation and Responsibility: Examining the UK’s Light-Touch Approach to AI Regulation

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Since generative artificial intelligence models like ChatGPT and Bard hit the mainstream at the beginning of this year, governments around the world are grappling with the complex question of how to regulate AI.

Developments are coming thick and fast. This week, MEPs working on the EU’s landmark Artificial Intelligence Act published an open letter, promising to introduce new laws that will curtail the powers of ‘very powerful AI’, ensuring instead that it will develop in a ‘human-centric, safe, and trustworthy direction’. Last week, the US Commerce Department launched a public consultation that will seek to understand what policies will help businesses, government and the public be able to trust that AI systems ‘work as claimed, and without causing harm’. Alan Davidson, Assistant Commerce Secretary, said that while his government believed in the promise of AI, there are concerns that AI was not being rolled out safely. In China, new laws will require companies using generative AI to submit their technology to government regulators for a security assessment.

A different direction: Assessing the UK’s approach to AI regulation

The proposals from the US, Europe and China throw the approach taken by the UK government into sharp relief. It has now been almost a month since the long-awaited launch of the UK’s AI white paper, which set out that the government has no plans for new legislation, or to create a new regulator to oversee AI in its entirety. Instead, existing regulators including Ofcom, the ICO and the CMA will be encouraged to ensure AI companies follow a set of five core principles, including safety and security, transparency, fairness, accountability, and contestability. The government stresses that this will ‘help create the right environment for artificial intelligence to flourish safely in the UK’ whilst avoiding ‘heavy-handed legislation which could stifle innovation’.

However, with other countries putting more robust measures in place, will this light touch approach hold out?

AI experts have raised concerns that the UK’s approach carries ‘significant gaps’. The Ada Lovelace Institute criticised the White Paper for not setting new legal obligations on regulators, developers, or users of AI systems, with just a minimal duty on regulators expected in future. It noted that the approach raised ‘more questions than it answers on cutting-edge, general-purpose AI systems like GPT-4 and Bard, and how AI will be applied in contexts like recruitment, education and employment, which are not comprehensively regulated…  The government’s timeline of a year or more for implementation will leave risks unaddressed just as AI systems are being integrated at pace into our daily lives, from search engines to office suite software.’

Looking to the future

With the election looming in 2024, how would a Labour government approach AI regulation? Upon the release of the White Paper, Lucy Powell criticised the government for ‘reinforcing gaps in [the] existing regulatory system and making the system hugely complex for businesses and citizens to navigate’. She has also, however, described herself as a ‘tech optimist’ and called regulation a means to ‘enable good practice’.

Labour is currently developing its approach to tech and the wider digital economy, which will be set out in a paper due for publication in May. Until then, we cannot yet be certain about the approach that Labour will take. But one thing we can safely assume is that the AI landscape, and how we interact with it, will have evolved significantly by the time the next election rolls around.

It has, after all, taken just a few months from its launch in November for ChatGPT to become thoroughly embedded into our online lives, being used by millions every day to do everything from writing recipes and workout plans, to drafting complex pieces of code. It is continually advancing and will soon be integrated into all Microsoft Office tools. The most recent version, ChatGPT4, is even faster and smarter than its predecessor, and capable of more advanced tasks like suggesting recipes from a picture of an open fridge and using a rough sketch in a notepad as a basis for writing code for a website.

OpenAI (just one of the many companies working in the AI space) is already working on ChatGPT5. Early speculation has suggested that this new model could reach Artificial General Intelligence, at which point it will be, on average, smarter than humans. While the Co-Founder of Open AI, Sam Altman has said that AGI will ‘benefit all of humanity’; others are less sure.

This includes Altman’s former colleague and fellow Co-Founder of OpenAI, Elon Musk, who recently signed an open letter along with over 1,000 other AI experts and researchers, calling for a moratorium on the development of large language models like ChatGPT and Google’s Bard.  “Powerful AI systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive, and their risks will be manageable”, the letter says, adding that if researchers do not pause their work on AI models more powerful than GPT-4, then “governments should step in”.

While we shouldn’t expect an immediate shift in the position taken by government towards AI regulation, organisations working in and with AI should expect continuing and growing tension between the government’s desire for a light-touch regulatory approach to AI and the need to prevent consumer harm, and ongoing debate across the political and media sphere about AI ethics and the appropriate regulatory approach.

Recent debates around online safety have shown there are lessons to be learned from a failure to act proactively – with companies who did not sufficiently safeguard children from online harms suffering reputational damage as a result. From a reputational and regulatory standpoint, organisations working in AI should therefore consider taking steps to self-regulate, both to protect their own reputation, and to comply with potential future regulations.

If you’d like to understand more about the political and regulatory landscape in relation to AI and the wider technology sector, then please contact Vic Wilkinson at

The Securonomics Revolution?  Labour’s redprint for reshaping Britain’s economy

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The year is 2025. Out steps Chancellor Rachel Reeves through the famous door of Number 11 Downing Street – Budget box held proudly aloft – and her trusty team of Labour advisors celebrating the dawn of a new fiscal era. If the current polls are to be believed, it very much could happen.

The former Bank of England economist has enjoyed an impressive road to stardom having been appointed Shadow Chancellor in 2021 following a variety of shadow ministerial posts under Ed Miliband. PPE at Oxford was followd by a successful banking career, and Reeves now stands on the cusp of becoming the UK’s first ever female Chancellor of the Exchequer.

There’s no doubt that under the leadership of Keir Starmer, Labour’s approach to tax and spend has very much deviated from the radical approaches championed by his immediate predecessor. Both Reeves and Starmer have stressed the fiscal limitations which will constrain any future Labour government spending, while in opposition, Reeves’ iron grip in ensuring all policy announcements are fully costed has helped rebuild Labour’s position as a credible government in waiting, whilst also taking the wind out of the sails of the Conservative’s “party of business” moniker.

Under Reeves, Labour have embarked on two core economic missions. The first – and by far most challenging – securing the trust of the British public over control of the public purse. It’s no coincidence that Lisa Nandy, Wes Streeting and other big hitters within the Shadow Cabinet have been unable to unleash bold, expensive policy announcements in their media interviews – the hand of Reeves hovering over their shoulder and the message discipline of fiscal competence running through every vein of Labour policy making. Reeves has learnt the lesson which has scuppered many a Shadow Chancellor – that economic power can only be gained through public trust. And public trust can only be gained through disciplined spending promises.

The second core economic mission which Reeves has sought to drive in partnership with the party Leader is to position Labour’s fiscal priorities around those of the country. Borrowing to fund sustainable infrastructure projects, greater investment in the NHS and reforming the education system are all policy priorities which chime with the party’s core audience – the centre ground. The party hasn’t sought to tie itself in fiscal knots over issues about which it knows the electorate is not concerned – but has married spending priorities with the public consciousness – an approach which Reeves believes will result in electoral success.

Packaging Labour’s economic message into a simple, digestible, and – critically – electable summary however has been Reeves’ Achilles heel. While some may describe her economic position as closely aligned to the New Labour project, Starmer and Reeves have struggled to define their fiscal strategy in quite the same way. Reeves has unveiled that Labour’s economic policy will be branded under the umbrella term “securonomics”, focusing on economic security and the resilience of industry in an uncertain global economy. “It shows how an active, strategic, state will work in harmony with vibrant and open markets” said Reeves in Washington last month, yet for Labour it will be concerning that a rebrand of its economic strategy received limited coverage in the broadsheets, with many journalist being more interested in the Shadow Chancellor’s decision to fly in business class rather than economy.

For securonomics to work, Reeves understands that winning the war on the domestic battlefield is only part of the solution. The trip to Washington to meet with counterparts in the US has underpinned the Shadow Chancellor’s belief that garnering the support of international advocates is essential to persuading the UK electorate that she and Keir Starmer have the credibility for leadership – and that one time worries of capital flight and a crumbling pound under Labour are no longer rooted in political reality.

Yet what of Reeves’ personal appeal? Disappointingly for the Shadow Chancellor, her public popularity has struggled to take off in the way she may have hoped. Current YouGov projections place both her and Jeremy Hunt at 18% on “who would make the best Chancellor” with an enormous 65% of the sample unsure about their preferred choice. It may be unrealistic to expect Reeves to be as embedded in the public psyche as Gordon Brown was in 1997, but to be level pegging with a Chancellor who became infamous for fighting junior doctors, losing a Conservative leadership contest and needed his political life salvaged by Liz Truss, will be a bitter pill to swallow.

Ultimately, Rachel Reeves will be desperate to ensure Labour is not just the party of workers, but the party of enterprise. Partnering with private investors and building bridges with the City have been central to the Shadow Chancellor’s approach – recent roundtables with senior business leaders have not happened by accident. Business must feel a new sense of confidence engaging with Labour under the fiscal stewardship of Reeves – commercial objectives and Labour policy now working in harmony to deliver outcomes, no longer the polarising forces they once were.

If you want to hear more about Labour’s economic policies and what they will mean for your business, please get in touch with our Corporate Affairs Team.

Interview with Madeleine Hallward, Non-Executive Director, Office of Rail & Road

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Inspired by International Women’s Day, at Grayling we wanted to shine a light on the incredible women in the Public Affairs industry and the work they do.

Over the coming weeks, we will be posting a series of interviews with inspirational women across the Public Affairs industry, discussing their careers and their experiences so far, how we can make the industry more inclusive, welcoming and progressive – for both men and women – as well as their predictions for the year ahead in politics. This week, we spoke to Madeleine Hallward, Non-Executive Director of Office of Rail and Road.


Madeleine Hallward is an experienced non-executive director and communications professional working in the public affairs industry for 17 years. Through her career, she has become an expert in internal, external and crisis communications, stakeholder engagement, change management, and media relations. Her previous in-house roles include (Ford, Diageo, Bloomberg, and the Energy Retail Association. She is a persuasive advocate and trusted adviser, with policy expertise, sound judgement and an informed instinct for internal and external networking. She has recently joined the Taylor Bennett reverse mentoring scheme, and is being mentored by the brilliant Samiah Anderson.

What attracted you to a career in public affairs?
I fell into public affairs by accident – I had worked in parliament, which was a really enjoyable year but I didn’t consider it as a career because I was more interested in the PR marketing side of things. I joined Diageo’s graduate scheme and was working in the marketing department when a job came up in the government affairs team. I took it and never looked back.

So whilst it was curiosity that got me here, it’s the variety that has kept me here. This is an industry filled with really smart, social people; there’s so much to keep your brain engaged.

What does International Woman’s Day mean to you?
My relationship with International Women’s Day has changed a lot over the years. In my younger years, I was faintly embarrassed by it and it wasn’t until I married and the question about whether I would change my name came up that I rediscovered my latent feminism.

So I went from faintly embarrassed, to pleased that it prompts conversations, and now frustrated that more than 50 years after the Equal Pay Act, we still don’t have equal pay – in fact, we have a persistent and occasionally growing gender pay gap in the UK, whilst parental leave is still talked about as a female benefit.

So, I’d say that my attitude towards International Women’s Day is that it’s not an excuse to do nothing for the rest of the year. That’s why we need things like the gender pay gap bot @paygapapp, calling out companies who commercialise the day yet continue to have a gender pay gap and an absence of female representation in the board room.

What advice would you give to women who want a career in public affairs?
My advice to women in the profession is what I always say to women in my team: don’t wait to be offered flexibility, seize it as you need it and be the leader that you want to see.

Don’t wait to be asked in a meeting – if you’re invited to a round table, make sure you’re seated at the table. Take the chair, make the point; don’t wait for space, because there probably won’t be one.

What has your career highlight been to date?
There have been lots – I’ve amended primary legislation, I’ve spearheaded successful campaigns. But I think probably, the highlight is that I’m still doing interesting, intellectually challenging work 20 years on – and politics only ever gets more interesting.

What are your predictions for the coming year in politics?
I would hesitate to predict. I always say that actually, general elections and the political cycle shouldn’t really make any difference to the way that public affairs practitioners engage with politicians and with politics. Your engagement should be sufficiently broad and deep to withstand whatever changes there are in the political weather.

So, as you were and expect the unexpected would be my predictions.

How can the public affairs industry deliver on the International Women’s Day theme of embracing gender equity?
As an industry we are a microcosm of the problem, which is that up to about four years into a PR or Public Affairs career, women have a positive pay gap versus their male counterparts. But over the next 15 years or so, getting to the leadership roles, women drop out and there are more women who work part time or who leave the industry all together because they don’t get the flexibility they need and they’re still generally expected to be the caregivers.

As an industry with all these women, we have the ability to take a really good, hard look at what policies are needed. We need parental leave; we don’t need good maternity policy, we need good parental policy. We could be offering that flexibility to practitioners across the board and we shouldn’t be describing our parental leave as industry-leading unless it is offered to both mothers and fathers.

We need to talk about tackling responsibilities more widely. Responsibilities come in many shapes and sizes, and we need to recognise that for every individual work and life is a balance we all have to deal with and that looks different for everybody.

At Grayling, you’re in a particularly good place to start doing that. On the whole, women are so underrepresented at board level, but with both your Global CEO and Global CFO being women, you’ve got real balance at the top and that’s unusual.