Labour City seminar plan falls flat

AN AMBITIOUS Labour Party initiative to raise £100,000 from a series of seminars for City lawyers featuring members of its front bench had to be cancelled due to lack of interest.

The initiative was officially launched last December by the Society of Labour Lawyers and was designed to drum up funds and enthusiasm for Labour from within the City, where, it was claimed, attitudes to Labour had thawed.

The plan was to stage a series of seminars hosted by front-bench Labour spokesmen and women on key aspects of the party's policy, and to raise money through entrance fees.

A list of speakers was drawn up for February and March which included shadow foreign secretary Robin Cook and Alistair Darling, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury.

Invitations were sent out to City lawyers, but the response was so poor that the project had to be abandoned.

“There may have been a reluctance to attend as the seminars were seen as being part of a fundraising exercise,” said James Goudie QC, chair of the Labour lawyers' group.

He added that another factor might have been the fact that over the past few months several City firms had staged their own seminars attended by key Labour politicians.

But he stressed that a fundraising dinner earlier this month, at which around 100 lawyers, many from the City, had paid £500 a head had been very successful.

Tony Blair and his barrister wife, Cherie Booth QC, were the special guests at the event.