Sponsored feature

Three to watch

Developing public affairs stories to keep tabs on.

1. The tobacco lobby scored a significant victory last month when the Department of Health made a last-minute U-turn on its plans to force cigarette manufacturers to use plain packaging.

Some concerted lobbying by Gallaher, Imperial et al, including print ads, raised the issue of the lack of any clear evidence that plain packs would reduce smoking. This was contradicted, via a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority, by anti-smoking campaigners.

The tobacco lobby then adopted a new message that appears to have worked - threatening to shift packaging production out of the UK if the plain packs legislation was passed.

Questions to ask - Threatening to remove operations from the UK is a well-worn path for corporate lobbying. Is the coalition Government more vulnerable than ever to this tactic?

2. Another surprise in the Queen's Speech was the lack of any plans for a statutory register of lobbyists.* It has left confusion and something of a vacuum in the UK public affairs industry, as illustrated by this statement from Association for Professional Political Consultants chair Michael Burrell: 'The coalition Government has to make clear its intentions ... We're now in limbo as to exactly what the future holds with no clear direction of travel.'

CIPR president Jane Wilson hopes the pause will open up an opportunity for the industry to have more say in any proposals, although until it can get clarity, the implications for lobbyists are anyone's guess.

Questions to ask - Does the Government still intend to bring in a register of lobbyists and has it only delayed this bill because of lack of parliamentary time? Will MP Patrick Mercer's indiscretions give impetus to this process?

3. Fresh from his electoral successes (and a duffing-up north of the border), UKIP founder Nigel Farage claims to be building a constituency within the City. A Daily Telegraph story reported that Farage has picked up a handful of supporters in the kind of financial organisations capable of providing some significant bankrolling.

Funnily enough, just days after this story appeared, the same title reported the wide disparity between the donations received by the Tories in the first three months of this year (£3.6m) and the £74,150 given to UKIP by a businessman who believes that unmarried mothers should be given 'a good smack'. Clearly some swift briefing by Conservative Central Office.

Question to ask - How long will it be before UKIP becomes a bona fide lobbying target as Farage becomes an ever-more vocal thorn in David Cameron's side?


* Just after this article went to press, Downing Street announced plans to publish a statutory register of lobbyists by the end of July 2013 

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

More from the Ideas Lab

Digital dilemmas: Social customer service
Sponsored feature

Digital dilemmas: Social customer service

In the first of a new series, our digital expert explains the best way to manage social customer service.

Asia is not a flight of fancy
Sponsored feature

Asia is not a flight of fancy

Asia presents exciting opportunities for clued-up comms professionals, says VMA Group's executive director/head of Asia-Pacific, Katrina Andrews.

Make an immediate impact
Sponsored feature

Make an immediate impact

Employers' use of interims to solve specific problems has created a career path that has shaken up the comms jobs market, says VMA Group CEO Julia Meighan.

Take responsibility for your own development
Sponsored feature

Take responsibility for your own development

The days are gone when you could sit back and wait to be trained. CIPR senior policy and PR officer Andy Ross advises you to get ahead by planning your own training.

Employing the right people is key for a hybrid agency
Sponsored feature

Employing the right people is key for a hybrid agency

Switching from PR to comms consultants is facilitated by recruiting widely read digital mavens from a range of backgrounds, who have an affinity with our organisational culture

You can have your cake and eat it - especially beside the seaside
Sponsored feature

You can have your cake and eat it - especially beside the seaside

Inspiring people to make healthy decisions, while spoiling themselves occasionally, is an ethos that helps attract staff.

Adapt to stay ahead of the game
Sponsored feature

Adapt to stay ahead of the game

Employers don't just want digital expertise, they need people who can show creativity and adaptability across all media, says VMA Group CEO Julia Meighan.

Your next job? Find somewhere that shares your values
Sponsored feature

Your next job? Find somewhere that shares your values

The recruitment process should be a genuine two-way conversation. Use it to explore what really matters to you, because that's what can turn a good job into one you love.

Perfecting mixology makes inVentiv a great workplace
Sponsored feature

Perfecting mixology makes inVentiv a great workplace

A good office is just like a classy cocktail with the right relationship between the ingredients; we have no walls and no titles - sheer ability is all that determines the challenges one faces.

Dive into the vast sea of opportunities
Sponsored feature

Dive into the vast sea of opportunities

The best comms people need curiosity, passion, enthusiasm and energy, a collegiate spirit and a desire to grow. Think freely, articulate your views... but keep a sense of humour.