EDITORIAL: The resurrection of lobbying's role

It has become a cliche to describe the House of Commons as powerless.

These are yesterday's politicians, received wisdom has it, a rubber stamp for whatever ideas those in the Downing Street policy unit come up with.

The result of this has been the virtual disappearance of such phrases as 'parliamentary lobbying,' to be replaced by loftier notions of integrated public affairs campaigning.

With a crunch vote looming on tuition fees for those in higher education, old-school 'parliamentary lobbying' has made a dramatic return to public life. As the battle heats up for the minds of the few dozen MPs who matter, it is refreshing to note that these elected representatives are now worth courting once more.

Lobbying the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers or officials is now apparently a waste of time - they have obviously already decided to forge ahead with this policy. But for the academic community, the National Union of Students and the staff at Downing Street, the one-at-a-time lobbying war is reaching fever pitch.

Faced with this important parliamentary decision - the Higher Education Bill that will bring in top-up fees goes to a vote at the end of January - all the protagonists now appear to be beefing up their lobbying operations.

In hiring Finsbury to bolster its work, Universities UK has drafted in an extra pair of hands - and with all those arms to twist, this should come as no surprise. Sources close to the organisation believe the top-up fees debate is a bigger issue than just lobbying. And indeed it is, but that doesn't mean lobbying is not going to play a central role in determining the outcome.

When major issues hinge on a vote in Parliament (rather than a run of negative headlines, or a share-price spike), the old-fashioned influencing and deal-making skills of what was presumed to be an extinct breed of lobbyists are suddenly found to have retained some value after all.

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

Latest Articles

John Lewis to tell brand story with "tasteful" 150th anniversary celebrations

John Lewis to tell brand story with "tasteful" 150th anniversary celebrations

Department store John Lewis is to use its 150th anniversary this year to talk about its history, which "not enough people know about", according to director of communications Peter Cross.

Labour hires Obama election strategist David Axelrod to fight General Election

Labour hires Obama election strategist David Axelrod to fight General Election

The man who helped Barack Obama win the 2008 and 2012 US presidential elections is to work for Labour along with members of his team.

Sky adds Fever PR to its roster after splitting with Cake

Sky adds Fever PR to its roster after splitting with Cake

Pay-TV giant Sky has added Fever PR to its agency line-up for a wide-ranging brief covering products and services.

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford has been sent home for Easter and will reconvene on Tuesday for further deliberations about its verdicts on 11 charges of indecent assault.

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

The Home Office has tasked Munro & Forster (M&F) with supporting its campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) as part of a wider retained brief.