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IS ROGERS ABOUT TO TURN BLUE?

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AGENDA

Labour peer Richard Rogers is on the brink of offering his advice - previously reserved for the left-wing London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott - to the Conservative Party.

'I don't believe in belonging to a single party, ' the long-term Labour Party member told the AJ. 'I'm foremost a professional.

'I'm sure I'll be talking to John Gummer [the Tory politician reassessing housing, architecture and planning policy] at some point; I'm quite close to him, ' he continued 'Gummer has done good things for the profession - I'm happy to give advice to any political party - Conservatives, Liberal Democrats or Labour, ' he concluded.

The move has led observers to speculate that Rogers may be jumping ship following the increasingly successful PR campaign of new Conservative leader David Cameron.

Rumours of the beginnings of a split between Rogers and New Labour first emerged last summer, after a reduction in Rogers' influence in Prescott's ODPM came to light.

Rogers' latest comments have led one leading political analyst to speculate that he may be doing a 'Bob Geldof'.

Geldof hit the headlines last month after being co-opted by the Conservatives to advise them on tackling world poverty.

The move raised eyebrows, because, like Rogers, Geldof had previously been closely associated with Tony Blair.

The expert said that the openness to political change demonstrated by the pair was simply 'a sign of the times'.

Gummer - who recently took over a Cameron-backed plan to overhaul Tory policy on 'quality of life', which includes architecture - spoke to the AJ last week.

In that interview he signalled his intention to talk to Rogers sooner rather than later. 'I want to get a lot of input from architects and planners, ' he said. 'I do think that Richard has a lot to offer and I do know him.' Rogers, it seems, is following in the footsteps of others and succumbing to Cameron's charms. As far as design professionals go, he is certainly the most politically influential.

And, should a new party come to power at any time in the near future, he would be foolish to have nailed his colours to only one mast.

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