How to lobby Corbyn’s Labour Party: our five tips

There’s been no shortage of political punditry over the weekend regarding the future direction of the Labour Party.

It is pointless to add to that here.

However, clients and friends in businesses and organisations will have pitched up to work this morning to be confronted by the question: ‘How do we engage with Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition?’

Here are five simple pointers as to how to do just that:

  1. In Parliamentary terms, the Labour Party is functionally the same. It will have a weekly whip instructing the Parliamentary Labour Party how to vote, what meetings to attend and giving other instructions.  In combination with the SNP and other Opposition Parties, it can trouble the Government. However, it is worth noting that Corbyn and his newly appointed Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s sympathetic tones toward Sinn Fein in the past may mean the loss of support from the eleven Northern Irish Unionist MPs in the House of Commons. The problem will, of course, be discipline. Corbyn was a serial rebel, and pleas from him to a group of MPs overwhelmingly to the right of their leader may well fall on deaf ears.  So lesson one is to maintain the same level of engagement across the frontbench teams, select committees and Parliamentary groups, as business will carry on as usual and your issue deserves to be heard in the House.
  2. Pick your issue. While the Labour Party is now led by a coterie of Corbyn disciples, they will not be immune to the need to connect with the public on key issues. Social justice, housing, public services – these are all likely to be keynotes that can be latched on to. The art will be to align your issue to these concerns. And then there are those niche issues – cycling, allotments, the Chagos Islands – that the Leader has identified with over the years.
  3. Watch what Corbyn does to the Conservatives. We have already talked about how Labour’s leftward lurch could provoke an equal and opposite reaction in the Conservative Parliamentary Party.  This is particularly dangerous for the Tories when it comes to Europe. An unholy, anti-EU alliance between the left and the Tory/UKIP right is a real threat to a Government trying to prove itself in the centre ground. Make sure you track changes in the Conservative’s position on key issues and be prepared to respond to them.
  4. Understand Corbyn’s team. While many will be anti-business and anti-lobbyist, not all will, and some will understand the power and importance of communications. They will feel they have the power of 250,000 voices behind them: can you show, in your cause, that you have more? Popular campaign groups who play a digital numbers game, like 38 Degrees, may be one route to influencing the seemingly impervious.  Importantly, the Shadow Cabinet is not solely comprised on wild-eyed Corbynistas. A number of heavyweight Party figures – Hilary Benn and Lord Falconer for example – are plainly from the right of the party and will err towards the pragmatic when it comes to their agendas. For business, Angela Eagle represents relatively good news – a level head with experience in Government. However, with John McDonnell heading up the all powerful Shadow Treasury team including Seema Malhotra MP as Shadow Chief Secretary, strong stomachs will be needed by business for this ride – especially among the banks, railways and defence companies.
  5. The Labour Party is in transition. The Conservatives worked their way through William Hague, Iain Duncan-Smith and Michael Howard before their return to partial electability. Labour so far have had Ed Miliband and now Jeremy Corbyn. We probably don’t know the identity of the next Labour Prime Minister. Maybe the UK, with a radical left option before it, will develop a taste it has had previously little or no appetite for, and we will see a Syriza-style mass movement among the public for a swing to the left. It’s a possibility, but a remote one. So watch those groups – and individuals – who have opted to stay on the outside of the Corbyn team. For those who can afford to take the long view of politics, there are real opportunities to build friends and advocates amongst the Labour backbenches and in right-wing groups like Progress and the IPPR.

Labour’s new front bench team:


Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Party Chair and Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office

Tom Watson MP

Shadow First Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

Angela Eagle MP

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer

John McDonnell MP

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Seema Malhotra MP

Shadow Home Secretary

Andy Burnham MP

Shadow Foreign Secretary

Hilary Benn MP

Opposition Chief Whip

Rosie Winterton MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Health

Heidi Alexander MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Education

Lucy Powell MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Owen Smith MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Defence

Maria Eagle MP

Shadow Lord Chancellor, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

Lord Falconer of Thoroton

Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Shadow Minister for the Constitutional Convention

Jon Trickett MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

Lisa Nandy MP

Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

Chris Bryant MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Transport

Lilian Greenwood MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

Vernon Coaker MP

Shadow Secretary of State for International Development

Diane Abbott MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

Ian Murray MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Wales

Nia Griffith MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Kerry McCarthy MP

Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities

Kate Green MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Michael Dugher MP

Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Registration

Gloria De Piero MP

Shadow Minister for Mental Health

Luciana Berger MP

Shadow Leader of the House of Lords

Baroness Smith of Basildon

Lords Chief Whip

Lord Bassam of Brighton

Shadow Attorney General

Catherine McKinnell MP

Shadow Minister without Portfolio

Jonathan Ashworth MP

Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning

John Healey MP