EDITORIAL: No room for old boys any more

’I know the Secretary of State very, very well because he’s my father.’ Taken out of context, these words seem innocent enough. But they were spoken by lobbyist Kevin Reid to an Observer journalist posing as a prospective client.

’I know the Secretary of State very, very well because he’s my

father.’ Taken out of context, these words seem innocent enough. But

they were spoken by lobbyist Kevin Reid to an Observer journalist posing

as a prospective client.



Reid was consequently accused by the Observer of peddling cash for

access.



In fact, he specifically refused to guarantee to set up meetings for his

prospective client. But he did list the names of a number of friends in

high places, and gave examples of work the agency had successfully

carried out for clients thanks to its contacts.



Lobbying firms, like all other businesses, have to market

themselves.



The question is how to do so without being accused of profiting from

one’s contacts? Clients employ lobbyists not only to gain an

understanding of the political agenda, but ultimately to influence it.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with trying to influence

politicians, it is the means used to do so that are at issue.



It is unfortunate that many lobbyists still seem to feel that they can

sell their services more effectively by proving that they are members of

an old boys’ network, rather than presenting themselves as professional

influencers.



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