Archive for October, 2023

A month of Mischief, October 2023

Posted on: October 31st, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

Welcome to A Month of Mischief,  a monthly take on the hottest passions gripping the nation, along with the latest Mischief news.

The Passion Perspective

It’s been a big month for sport, South Africa have clinched the Rugby World Cup (making that semi-final defeat a little easier to swallow), the Cricket World Cup is heating up, the Premier League is already providing soap-like drama and Tyson Fury has (somewhat controversially) cemented his legacy as the Baddest of the Baddest.

And there’s more to come, next summer we’ll have Euro ‘24, the Olympics, the summer X Games and a whole lot more. So, what better topic to launch Passion Powered Patter than sport…

MD, Charlotte Brooks meets The London Economic founder and Floating Editor, Jack Peat

First up our MD, Charlotte Brooks, sat down with Jack Peat, founder of The London Economic and UK Floating Editor of the hugely popular lifestyle network and author of The Great Pie Revolt, a gastronomic guide to the premier league and EFL. Together they spill the beans on how brands can unlock editorial opportunities around sporting events, outsmarting algorithm and reveal which brands they feel are winning in this space.

Watch here

Head of Strategy, Dan Deeks-Osburn meets Just Eat’s UK & IE Marketing Director, Vix Gold

Moving on to our second installment of Passion Powered Patter, our Head of Strategy Dan Deeks-Osburn dives into conversation with Just Eat’s UK & IE Marketing Director, Vix Gold. Get ready for some serious insights on how brands can effectively connect with their audience via the medium of sport. This episode sees the pair talk about how to really get cut-through and make an impact by highlighting the importance of finding your place to play, working towards a long-term goal and how to avoid badging.

Watch here

Creative Director, Greg Double, meets England rugby player, Anthony Watson

Finally, episode three sees our Creative Director, Greg Double go one-on-one with England rugby player Anthony Watson. In the final installment of sports themed Passion Powered Patter the pair sit down to chat about how to create authentic brand partnerships with athletes, the importance of relevance and narrative, and how to properly leverage talent to drive consideration and cut through with audiences.

Watch here

This Month at Mischief

Lego World Play Day hit the headlines with Paloma

It was a momentous month for LEGO in October, as we teamed up with mum of two, and singer/actress Paloma Faith, to share her thoughts on the power of play for World Play Day 2023. Interviews secured on Lorraine, HuffPost and Evening Standard, saw Paloma discuss how learning through play with her children is vital to improved wellbeing and connection.

Alongside interviews, we pitched startling research highlighting how children spend less time playing in a week than adults spend scrolling on their phones in just one day, and these findings were echoed by our ‘Professors of Play’ experts who were interviewed across the likes of BBC Radio 5 Live and Times Radio.

The icing on the cake was the LEGO Superpower Academy which we hosted in Shoreditch. This escape room-style activity engaged families’ creativity, problem-solving skills and communication and saw celebrity influencers in attendance, as well as securing a flurry of listings coverage.

Overall, the powerful multi-channel campaign launch saw us secure 80 pieces of coverage, including 7 broadcast, and 27 pieces of social content.

We launched an illegal rave outside Parliament for Channel 4

Ahead of Channel 4’s highly anticipated ‘Partygate’ launch this month, we crafted an ‘illegal’ rave outside parliament, hosted by the ultimate Boris look-alike. Our playful picture story saw a 6am roving rave led by DJ BJ and his following of partying ‘MPs’ roam by Westminster, capturing attention across both socials and earned media.

With ‘Picture of the Day’ and video coverage secured across the likes of The Guardian, Independent and Evening Standard, the tongue-in-cheek content successfully drummed up excitement ahead of the series launch, encouraging viewers to tune into a show that ultimately had a much deeper message.

E.ON’s solar meadow takes over Edinburgh zoo

This month, we revealed that E.ON Energy had begun installing the UK’s biggest zoo-based solar meadow, in a bid to support the wildlife conservation charity in reducing its environmental impact, and becoming more sustainable.

This unexpected partnership channeled the positive link between energy and our environment, and the installation process was overseen by a whole host of animals, from meerkats and giraffes, to armadillos and penguins. Our endearing visual assets were sold-in to media, highlighting just how E.ON is striving to work collaboratively with businesses and communities to take climate action and help the UK meet its net zero targets.

Mischief News

It was an evening of success for both Mischief and MHP at the PR Week Awards this month, as we scooped up two wins and two highly commended awards. Taking the top spot in the Marketing Communications: Automotive and Transport category, was our Avanti driver recruitment campaign, and we also took home two commendations for our work with Women’s Aid on the World Cup ‘He’s Coming Home’ campaign.

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Collectively Saluting Our Sisters

Posted on: October 31st, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

This year’s Black History Month theme, ‘Saluting our Sisters’, is about celebrating the exceptional achievements of Black women and their contributions to society, which have often been overlooked. Unfortunately, Black women have had, and continue to have, their “contributions ignored, ideas appropriated, and voices silenced.” But this month, we salute the contributions and hard work of Black women, focusing on those who have been marginalised in healthcare. 

On September 20th, 2023, the charity Wellbeing of Women in association with MHP brought together a diverse group of individuals, marginalised women, and organisations passionate about improving women’s health. This Health Collective united to lay a foundation for improving healthcare for Black women and other ethnic minorities. These communities are often referred to as ‘hard to reach’, which as a result, frequently leads to their needs being ignored. However, this event proved that these communities were not hard to reach but simply ‘easy to ignore’, as stated by the women’s health ambassador, Dame Professor Lesley Regan during the discussion. The event highlighted the incredible work being done at a grassroots level by organisations, community advocates, researchers, healthcare professionals, and charities. The aim of the collective is to ensure that the voices, knowledge, and experiences of women from ethnic minorities influence the delivery of the Women’s Health Strategy and consequently address stark health inequalities across society. The Health Collective are an example of those we celebrate through the theme ‘Saluting our Sisters’ as they are “women who move mountains, pioneering voices, women who are breaking barriers and women who lead”.  

Attendees shared their experiences as marginalised women in the healthcare system. Many explained that their work has been provoked by the experiences they have had to endure, which they hope they can prevent other women facing in the future and to compensate for the failures and inadequacies in the healthcare system.  

During the discussion, core themes were identified that consistently create barriers for women from marginalised groups in accessing healthcare or are a consequence of the barriers that women face. The themes outlined below were raised and will be discussed in more detail in our upcoming report.

Funding limitations for community organisations which support women’s health were mentioned, which consequently undermines their impact and reach. Often, these grassroot organisations miss out on major funding opportunities due to their small size, despite the impactful work they conduct. Additionally, the exclusion of marginalised communities in research, media and policy conversations is not conducive to developing services that provide equitable care and means that their voices are left out of policy decisions and outlook. This also contributes to and exacerbates the lack of tailored healthcare and education for women from ethnic minorities which often leads to failures in diagnosis and treatment. 

Lack of cultural competency and unconscious bias from healthcare professionals when delivering care to patients was a theme highlighted during the discussion. The failure to understand cultural and religious nuances and hesitancy suggests that clinical pathways have been designed through a white-centric lens. As such we should be reviewing this area in collaboration with marginalised communities.  

Maternal mortality was raised as an example of how healthcare services severely fail women from ethnic minority groups across the UK.  Recent research has shown that within the Black community, the rate of women dying in the UK between 2018–2020 during pregnancy or up to six weeks after the end of their pregnancy was 3.7 times higher and 1.7 times higher amongst Asian women, compared with to the White women in the study.

The achievements and work of these women, who often have little funding support, cannot be overstated. They have shown strength in the face of adversity, overcome trauma, and utilised it as a means of helping others. The Health Collective identified diverse roles and organisations supporting women’s health locally that run impactful community programmes and events targeting the needs of marginalised women. However, most operate in silos without widespread visibility. To create synergies, advocates across geographies and health therapies can collaborate via shared platforms, funding and events. The organisations and their activities include advocacy and support groups for a range of health conditions, culturally appropriate workshops on sexual health to reach women where they are e.g. in places of worship, providing menstrual products to tackle period poverty, educational workshops and events providing information surrounding stigmatised subjects such as menopause and much more.

More needs to be done from Industry to support grassroots organisations. Industry needs to come together and support organisations by providing core funding, resources and expertise to help drive research, innovation and education for the most marginalised communities. By investing in these programmes, Industry can help pave the way for better healthcare outcomes for all. Additionally, partnering with grassroots organisations can help foster much-needed trust and collaboration between Industry and these communities and improve the understanding of the unique challenges faced by women in healthcare. 

Whilst Black History Month provides an opportunity to salute the incredible work of our sisters, there needs to be continued engagement with the work they do. The Health Collective’s efforts have positively impacted many women’s lives and have addressed the significant gaps and disparities within the healthcare system. The Women’s Health Strategy is a step in the right direction towards addressing these challenges, and it’s heartening to see the Health Collective engaging with the Women’s Health Ambassador, Dame Lesley Regan. This gives us hope that the Government is committed to addressing the health of women from marginalised groups, and that it’s finally becoming a key political issue. Industry, Government and health systems need to work together to ensure that the health of marginalised women is prioritised.

By Shamilah Nyiramukwaya and Bella Smith

MHP Group unveils new brand strategy offer ‘Reverb’

Posted on: October 31st, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

This press release originally appeared in PR Week

We are delighted to launch our brand new strategy offer, Reverb.

Built on the foundations of our expertise in behavioural science, the offer brings together strategy, creative, design and employee engagement to build brands that others talk about.

Led by MHP Group Head of Strategy Kate Gomes, Reverb offers a unique approach to end-to-end brand development, from narrative and purpose to visual identity and tone of voice. The team’s behavioural insight-led approach is designed to increase brand advocacy from journalists, influencers, customers and employees.

Reverb’s clients at launch include a leading consumer tech brand, a renewable energy multinational and a health NGO.

MHP Group Head of Strategy Kate Gomes explains:

“In a fast paced and ultra-competitive marketplace, it is not enough for brands to build identities their customers and stakeholders love – they also have to be shared and talked about.

By launching Reverb to help tell more authentic and culturally relevant stories, we are responding both to client demand and audience expectation.”

Dan Deeks-Osburn, Head of Strategy at Mischief, added:

“As earned specialists, we know how to tell simple, powerful stories that others want to share. By applying this experience and approach to brand strategy, we can help brands connect with new audiences and increase the ROI on brand communications.”

The interdisciplinary Reverb team also includes Design Directors Priya Patel and Lucy Feehan, Strategist Sam Munteanu-Ward, and Head of Change and Employee Engagement Naomi Goodman.

The launch of Reverb follows the recent announcement of our new Change and Employee Engagement specialism.

Passion Powered Patter – Engaging with Sportspeople

Posted on: October 27th, 2023 by Alexandra Stamp

Mischief’s Passion Powered Patter series sees our team meeting with industry experts to discuss how brands, agencies and marketeers can leverage passions to better connect with their audiences. This month, we focus on the passion area of sport, given the huge line up of tournaments and events set to come in 2024.

In our third episode of the series, our Creative Director, Greg Double met with England International Rugby Player Anthony Watson to discuss how brands can effectively partner with sports talent. This episode sees the pair talk about how to build a true partnership and why it’s important to look for partners that have an authentic connection to the brand, product or campaign.

Tune in below, and don’t forget to check out Episode 1, where we got the media download from’s Jack Peat, on how to unlock editorial opportunities around sporting events and Episode 2, where we chatted to Just Eat’s Marketing Director, Vix Gold about how brands can win by taking a long term view to passion led comms.

Capital Markets ESG Insights: October 2023

Posted on: October 24th, 2023 by Alexandra Stamp

In this latest iteration of the MHP Capital Markets’ quarterly ESG Insights newsletter, we take a look at recent political developments impacting the UK’s green agenda, following Rishi Sunak’s move to slow down the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy. We examine corporate and political reactions and potential implications from a communications perspective, drawing on insights
from MHP’s recently published Polarisation Tracker.

We also summarise the upcoming key developments in the ESG space, including what to expect from COP28, and the regulatory frameworks being introduced, including the Sustainable Finance Disclosures Regulation (SFDR) and Sustainability Disclosure Requirements (SDR), along with the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).

We also feature Stewart Investors as our Client in Focus.

Download the ESG Insights Report: October 2023.

For any questions or feedback please contact us at [email protected]

MHP & Mischief win at PRWeek UK Awards 2023

Posted on: October 19th, 2023 by Alexandra Stamp

We are pleased to share the MHP & Mischief both picked up awards at the PRWeek UK Awards 2023.

The PRWeek Awards showcase the very best in public relations and communications, from dazzling campaigns to innovative strategies.

City & Corporate Communications 

For MHP’s work with IWG, the workspace solutions provider, we won in the City & Corporate Communications category for ‘The win/win case for hybrid working”.

Despite a strong backlash against remote working, we were able to develop a strong case that hybrid working is the happier, healthier and greener way to work, therefore elevating IWG as the leading commentator on the practice. IWG’s objective was to build a powerful case setting out the wider personal and business benefits of shifting permanently to a hybrid model. MHP supported by driving earned media coverage around its ambition to open 1,000 new hybrid workspaces, achieving carbon neutrality, reducing carbon emissions from its buildings and supply chain, and its investments in a range of carbon removal projects.

Of the campaign, judges said “An impressive campaign, jam-packed with thought leadership, campaigns, newsjacking and clever leverage of news moments… Exceptional global reach, and superior performance against competitors.”

Marketing Communications: Automotive and Transport 

For Mischief’s work with Avanti West Coast, the train operating company, we picked up the award for Marketing Communications: Automotive and Transport.

Mischief were tasked with increasing applicants, particularly female applicants, to Avanti’s driver recruitment scheme. Research found that visibility was a major barrier to attracting women to apply for the roles, as it was seen as a ‘male’ profession. Mischief’s research then came upon the story of Karen Harrison, who became one of the UK’s first female drivers in 1979. It was decided her story should be central to the campaign.

The second major barrier was the application process, where women tending to take longer than men to apply – an issue when applications tended to close when a maximum had been received. Mischief therefore decided to begin its campaign a month ahead of applications opening.

Mischief created an eight by five metre mural featuring Karen, which was put up in busy London Euston station. The mural itself and Karen’s story prompted more than 300 pieces of coverage and the campaign attracted 1,500 female applicants, versus a target of 800.

Of the campaign, the judges said “There was clear passion in this entry; the client was genuinely motivated by gender equality. Using the insight about women’s consideration periods for a role was particularly smart.”

Read more here.

Highly commended 

Mischief was also shortlisted in two campaigns, Best Use of Small Budget & Best Use of Creativity, for their work with Women’s Aid, on the ‘He’s Coming Home’ Campaign.

Passion Powered Patter – Connecting With Consumers

Posted on: October 18th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

Mischief’s Passion Powered Patter series sees our team meeting with industry experts to discuss how brands, agencies and marketeers can leverage passions to better connect with their audiences.This month, we focus on the passion area of sport, given the huge line up of tournaments and events set to come in 2024.

In our second episode of the series, our Head Of Strategy, Dan Deeks-Osburn met with Vix Gold, UK & IE Marketing Director at Just Eat to discuss how brands can effectively connect with their audience via sport. This episode sees the pair talk discuss the importance of finding your place to play, working towards a long-term goal and how to avoid badging.

Tune in below, and don’t forget to check out Episode 1, where we got the media download from’s Jack Peat, on how to unlock editorial opportunities around sporting events.

Tune into the first episode here

Want to hear more? To discuss how you can connect your brand with passions, feel free to get in touch [email protected]

MHP Group bolsters Financial Services team

Posted on: October 16th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

This press release originally appeared in PR Week

MHP has made two appointments that will further support its financial services team’s focus on key growth areas: fintech and payments, asset management and sustainable finance, and insurance.

Gemma Lingham joins the business as a director, working alongside director, Matt Village to lead the fintech and payments team.

Lingham previously served as head of fintech at FleishmanHillard and has expertise in open banking and payments technology with previous clients including Trulayer, CrowdCube, Swan and Western Union.

Lingham said: “It’s a hugely exciting time to be joining the practice on the back of a sustained period of impressive growth. Both the client and talent base are first class, and I look forward to working with Nick, Matt and the wider leadership team to continue building a market-leading fintech proposition.”

Charlotte Merlin-Jones also joins MHP, as an associate director from Edelman Smithfield, where she specialised in asset management, property and mortgages.

She will join the asset management and sustainable finance team, whose recent client wins include asset manager First Sentier Investors.

Merlin-Jones said: “At a time when the financial sector is under the spotlight, the ability to combine deep sector knowledge with a forward-thinking approach that delivers creative multichannel campaigns has never been more important. I look forward to experiencing the full power of MHP’s integrated proposition while working with an extremely talented set of new colleagues.”

In the last 12 months, the fintech and payments team has won briefs from brands, including Fiserv, Feedzai, Xapo Bank, Wamo and Laser Digital. This month, MHP supported Irish unicorn Wayflyer on its new £1bn funding deal with Neuberger Berman.

MHP’s head of financial services, Nick Woods, said: “Our ability to attract the industry’s best talent has been crucial to our success over the past three years. Gemma and Charlotte are two brilliant examples of this and bring with them deep expertise which will further accelerate our growth and continue our development of sub-sector specialisms.

“This capability, coupled with our integrated approach and a commitment to helping clients tell bigger stories has never been more relevant in a sector that continues to be reshaped by technological, societal and economic forces.”

World Mental Health Day 2023: Digital services in increasing access to mental health services

Posted on: October 12th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

This year’s World Mental Health Day theme is ‘Mental health is a universal human right’. In the UK the demand for mental health support continues to rise with nearly a quarter of patients waiting more than 12 weeks to commence treatment . Leveraging digital services is crucial to enhancing accessibility, efficiency, and effectiveness for mental healthcare in the UK. By exploring the advantages and drawbacks of digital services in mental health, light can be shed on the evolving landscape of mental healthcare and how the integration of digital services might impact access within the UK.

In September 2023, NHS Confederation published the report Maximising  the potential of digital in mental health, highlighting that at this moment in time “to do nothing is not an option”, and there is a significant opportunity to improve mental health care across the country. Providing digital solutions vastly increases accessibility to services, offering a lifeline to individuals in more remote or underserved areas, and providing support that may not have been available otherwise. Furthermore, it allows everyone to access care without the logistical challenges sometimes associated with traditional in-person care such as a lack of time, interference with other activities or transportation . This enables patients to access resources, therapy, and support groups at their own convenience around the clock. In addition, many digital mental health services are more cost-effective than traditional therapy. For example, in York University, internet delivered CBT is proving more cost-effective whilst delivering similar clinical outcomes .

Outside of the direct increases to access, proper usage of digital services can provide mental health patients with a level of anonymity, which can play a role in addressing the stigma associated with seeking mental health support. Social media is another important outlet for mental health patients, since January 1st 2023, “mental health” has been mentioned 2.18 million times on social media. While there can be pitfalls to social media, it is also full of high quality information from reliable influencers, some of whom have been mapped in the MHP Health Leading Health Influencers report.

However, the positive impacts may come with potential drawbacks. Socioeconomic disparities may be exacerbated through implementation, as not everyone has the necessary technology or internet connectivity to access digital mental health services. MHP Health held an event that touched on these themes through the provision of equitable healthcare for women with an accompanying report and video coming soon. With the use of any data sharing tools, privacy breaches are of concern and may deter potential service users due to previous, high profile security breaches within the NHS. Finally, an overreliance on digital services may discourage some individuals from seeking in-person help, which could potentially delay access to more intensive treatments where necessary.

Digital services have the potential to revolutionise mental healthcare within the NHS. Embracing their use can lead to greatly improved accessibility, efficiency, and quality of mental health care services. As digital solutions continue to evolve, they offer promising avenues for meeting the growing demand for mental health support in the UK. Nevertheless, there are important concerns regarding privacy, personalisation, the digital divide, amongst others. Striking the balance between digital and in-person mental health care is vital to ensuringe that individuals receive appropriate, effective, and personalised support. As the field continues to evolve, it is essential to consider both the promise and limitations of digital services in enhancing mental health care. The MHP Health team work with clients to navigate this dynamic landscape, leveraging the potential of digital and social media in health.

Political Insider: Labour Party Conference

Posted on: October 11th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

A buoyant Labour Party gathered in Liverpool this week with one thing on their mind – power. Has this party conference done enough to bolster Keir Starmer’s credibility as Prime Minister in waiting? What does business think of the announcements made by Rachel Reeves et al?

5 things we learnt

1. He’s Keir for the long-term

Starmer’s ambition was to deliver a glittering speech this conference – just not literally. After a protester doused the Labour leader in glitter, he could have been knocked off course. Instead, his response acted as a fitting motif of how Starmer has brushed off asinine protest to drive his party towards power. The speech was a clear attempt to set out why people should vote for him on his own merits, as opposed to being the least worst option compared with Rishi Sunak. Styling himself as the man to build a new Britain – literally, in the case of his planned new towns – Starmer also made it clear that the Milton Keynes and Crawleys of the future will not be built in a day. He wants to be a two term Prime Minister, hence a speech which over-indexed on the “vision” side of things. It was rapturously received in the conference hall, but he will be hoping the rest of the country are able to see beyond the images which are likely to dominate tomorrow’s front pages.

2. Rachel Reeves: Iron Chancellor 2.0?

Woe betide which future Labour minister goes into the Treasury and asks for more money when Rachel Reeves is in charge. She adopted an almost Thatcheresque turn of phrase in her speech, saying that “change will only be achieved through iron discipline” and “when you play fast and loose with the public finances you put at risk family finances”.  Securonomics, as Reeves repeated several times, is the name of the game and Labour hope it will be a key electoral differentiator. However, many dissenting voices are already asking how Starmer’s pledge to deliver a “reforming state, not a chequebook state” can be squared with the borrowing necessary to deliver some of Labour’s grander ambitions.

3. The new party of business

Mark Carney coming out to champion the Reeves speech fed into the mood music that business are enjoying themselves a lot more in Liverpool than they did in Manchester last week. Speaking to the party’s business day, Keir Starmer said “if we do come into government, you will be coming into government with us”. Changed days from under Jeremy Corbyn when the lonely few at the party’s business day were viewed simultaneously as an inconvenience and a threat. Savanta polling for MHP – which found 45 per cent of senior business leaders believe a Labour Government would be best for business – is yet more evidence of the way the wind is blowing.

4. Labour is thinking and acting like a national party again

The Union Flag backdrop was inescapable in Liverpool. Coming a few days after Labour doubled its representation in Scotland to two MPs, the symbolism was obvious. After years of retreat from its old heartlands, Labour clearly feels it is on the cusp of becoming a genuine, cross-UK political movement once again. Rachel Reeves conscious effort of wrapping her “Securonomics” philosophy up in the language of “rebuilding Britain” was evidently designed to chime with those in the so-called Red Wall, who felt in 2019 Labour’s conception of Britain didn’t resonate with theirs. A gathering of Hampstead intellectuals this was not.

 5. Corbyn is yesterday’s man

Beyond the palpable sense that power was in touching distance and the corporate schmoozing on the fringes, the most clear sign of Labour’s progress was the deftness, maturity and sensitivity with which the leadership responded to the terrible developments in the Middle East. The absence of equivocation and fence sitting from Starmer and co. was a sign that this is definitively his party now.

Policy – What was announced?

  • Labour Leader Keir Starmer announced plans to build a new generation of new towns, alongside a further expansion of devolution in England.
  • Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves announced a plan to “rewire Britain” by removing barriers to investment in grid connections, facilitating £200bn of private investment and supporting 220,000 jobs each year between 2024-25. Alongside this, a future Labour Government would open up new grid construction to competitive tendering and impose a more extensive windfall tax on energy companies.
  • Labour would undertake a “clampdown on waste”. Specific measures include reducing spending on government consultants, a review into how major capital projects can be delivered more effectively and the establishment of a Covid Corruption Commissioner.
  • Labour would legislate so the OBR has to issue forecasts for any significant tax change proposals.
  • Former TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady will undertake a review into ways of eliminating the gender pay gap.
  • Labour will introduce a ban on zero hours contracts in the first 100 days of a Labour Government.
  • Shadow Energy Secretary Ed Miliband announced plans for an Energy Independence Act to enable planning reforms to facilitate the green transition.
  • Shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds announced a new sectoral plan for the automotive sector and would reinstate the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.
  • Shadow EFRA Secretary Steve Reed announced Labour will give Ofwat the power to ban the payment of bonuses to water bosses whose companies pump significant levels of raw sewage into rivers and the sea.
  • Shadow Levelling Up Secretary Angela Rayner said Labour would deliver the biggest boost to affordable social and council housing for a generation, by updating the Affordable Housing Programme, changes to local authority planning regulations and mandating developers to deliver social and affordable homes.
  • Shadow Health Secretary West Streeting announced a plan to cut the NHS backlog, funded by scrapping non-dom tax status.
  • Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson announced Labour will transform existing FE colleges into new specialist Technical Excellence Colleges. Separately, she announced Labour could bring back maintenance grants for poorer students by increasing the debt burden on wealthier graduates.
  • Shadow Culture Secretary Thangam Debbonaire announced Labour intends to publish a cultural infrastructure plan to protect and nurture cultural places.
  • Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh announced Labour will publish a plan for bringing railways back into public ownership. Haigh will also commission an independent inquiry into HS2.
  • Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper announced plans for a new cross-government national programme focused on opportunities for young people, youth mental health and tackling knife crime.
  • Labour will also introduce a Community Policing Guarantee to make streets safe again.

Labour viewpoint

By Joshua Kaile

A week is a long time in politics. At Conservative conference in Manchester the talk was of a sparsely attended event beset by a leaked HS2 announcement. Fast forward a week and you can feel in the air a sense of cautious optimism around the Labour Party and their fortunes at the next General Election.

This has been fuelled further by the party’s stunning win in last week’s Rutherglen byelection with a swing of over 20% from the SNP, a sign that Labour is back in the parts of the country it needs to win. Labour is also chiming with business; MHP’s recent polling research, conducted in partnership with Savanta has shown that 45% of business leaders think Labour is “best for business”.

This was clearly evidenced by fringe meetings and business events over subscribed and packed to the rafters.

Labour frontbenchers have been keen to capitalise on the growing enthusiasm around the party and demonstrate the ambition they have for the country. So Keir Starmer had a big challenge to meet during his speech. A challenge only exacerbated by a protester storming the stage as he began to talk and throwing glitter over him. A stunned conference hall didn’t initially know how to react.

But Keir’s response to take off his jacket, roll up his sleeves and carry on, typifies the leadership he has demonstrated from day one and the qualities he wants to bring to the office of Prime Minister.

This was a speech that set out that Labour is moving from a party of protest to a party of power, and in some ways, the unscripted protest made that point even more powerfully than words alone could have. For all the bold policy announcements on building new homes and towns set out by the Labour leader, it will be his response to the protest that captures the headlines and shows the public exactly who Keir Starmer is.

Ambition, determination and bravery were the themes he wanted to set out with words, but in his unflappable reaction to the events that unfolded he made the case powerfully.

Keir Starmer had taken Labour from a party of protests to the cusp of power. “Britain can, Britain will get its future back” was a clear rallying cry for Labour activists to take the country in the months ahead.

Conservative viewpoint

By Mario Creatura

On the face of it, Labour’s announcements have all felt a little, well, Conservative haven’t they?

Since the 2010 election defeat, Labour have been dogged by the unrelenting attack that they cannot be trusted with the economy. Liam Byrne’s ‘there’s no money left’ letter is regularly used to remind the electorate of past errors. That is the demon they have sought to slay over their party conference in Liverpool.

In order to fund their myriad proposals, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves has confessed to the need to increase government borrowing – something Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has already lambasted as £28 billion of additional debt every year which is “a fairy tale for the British economy with no happy ending – just higher inflation, higher mortgages, higher debt and lower growth.”

Not mentioning the word ‘inflation’ in her speech, gave Hunt an additional attack angle – Labour, he says, still can’t be trusted with the biggest economic challenges facing Britain.

Labour have doubled-down on imposing VAT on independent school fees, something Conservatives immediately seized upon as a tax on aspiration. In a country crying out for hope and social mobility, this is unlikely to be a fruitful campaign in those Red or Blue Wall constituencies that Labour needs to win to secure a majority.

Sir Keir Starmer’s housing announcement, and the promise to release low-grade green belt land for easier development, will again be used in the Blue Wall as a demonstration that Labour aren’t interested in protecting the communities of our green and pleasant land, but instead are intent on turbocharging character-less urban sprawl.. Which group is larger in 2024, the NIMBYs or the YIMBYs, will be a crucial test of the next election.

The real test of a party conference is whether it has moved the dial in the minds of the electorate. The Conservatives will be disappointed by the lack of a poll bounce post-Manchester, but Labour have given them a lot of material to work with in recent days.

MHP’s sister agency Savanta asked 2,000 people to give them one word to describe Keir Starmer: ‘boring’ was by far and away the most chosen. Given the political and social turmoil of recent years, Labour may want to chalk that up as a win.

What else has been happening at conference and what comes next?

Our exclusive Savanta polling on the attitudes of business towards the two main parties was covered extensively in the New Statesman, where Associate Director Josh Kaille gave his views on the future trajectory of Labour’s relationship with the corporate world. Our team in Liverpool have also been recording a short series of videos reacting to developments at conference, which can be viewed on our LinkedIn and X pages.

With Labour and the Conservatives concluding their party conferences and Westminster returning next week, attention turns towards the King’s Speech on 7thNovember and the Autumn Statement on 22nd November. The public affairs team will be covering the build up to and aftermath of these two set piece events.

If you would like to get in touch with the team, please contact Head of Public Affairs, Tim Snowball, at [email protected]