Lobbyists divided as Tory MP slams use of EDMs

Public affairs chiefs at odds over the value of Early Day Motions.

Public affairs bosses have clashed over the value of Early Day Motions after a Conservative MP dismissed them as 'the tool of the crap lobbyist'.

Writing for the PoliticsHome website this week, Chris Heaton-Harris told how, since being elected last year, a number of his constituents had asked him to sign the parliamentary motions.

'I'm afraid I haven't signed any yet and don't plan on changing that in the future, as I think they are pretty much politically impotent and too costly,' he wrote.

'One of the main reasons (if not the main reason) why so few people sign EDMs is that in the past few years they have turned into the tool of the crap lobbyist ...

If you are a business, charity or NGO and your public affairs outfit recommends an EDM - fire them immediately!

'Few people take any notice of them and so they are really no more than political graffiti.'

Insight Public Affairs MD John Lehal agreed with the MP for Daventry.

Lehal said: 'EDMs achieve nothing, yet unfortunately many organisations see it as part of their campaign plan - they are a waste of time. I would suggest to the House authorities that unless an EDM passes a threshold of 100 signatories, it should not even be printed in the Order Paper.'

Lansons head of public affairs Mark Adams said: 'I have only once advised a client to try for an EDM and that was on a subject that gained about one hundred signatures. EDMs rarely have any influence and are almost always an ineffective way to raise an issue.'

But Weber Shandwick corporate and public affairs chairman Jon McLeod said there were specific circumstances where EDMs were useful.

McLeod said the motions could be used 'to demonstrate cross-party support for an issue, to show that it is not the usual suspects who are concerned about an issue'.

He said they had a particular function in backbench debates and they could also get an issue into the media: 'Many MPs use EDMs effectively with their local media, and an extensively signed EDM can trigger coverage in the national media, which in turn is worthwhile.'

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