COMMENT: EDITORIAL: Putting trust in your colleagues

Two years ago the initial ‘cash for questions’ row led to the formation of the Nolan Committee and the appointment of Sir Gordon Downey as its chief of police. As far as the reputation of Parliament is concerned, this mechanism now faces what committee member Tom King has called ‘its first massive test’.

Two years ago the initial ‘cash for questions’ row led to the formation

of the Nolan Committee and the appointment of Sir Gordon Downey as its

chief of police. As far as the reputation of Parliament is concerned,

this mechanism now faces what committee member Tom King has called ‘its

first massive test’.



As Parliament frets over how to cope with the latest sleazy assault on

its reputation, the lobbying fraternity is conducting its own soul

searching exercise. On the other side of the Westminster fence, the

Association of Professional Political Consultants, also sprang into

being from the last round of sleaze. It, too, is facing its first

massive test.



Unfortunately, it is likely to be found wanting. This is not because it

has been set up misguidedly, nor because it has adopted the wrong rules,

nor because lobbyists do not want to restore the reputation of their

business -they urgently do. The reason it is likely to be found wanting

is because of a far wider problem within the lobbying and PR industries:

a lack of trust and co-operation.



To its credit, the APPC is examining all the options available. The PRCA

and IPR are equally assiduous at trying to put the industry’s house in

order. But when the overall atmosphere in the industry is one of mutual

distrust, is it any wonder that its most intractable problems languish

unresolved?



In this week’s feature, Peter Gummer spells out the problem. We all know

the big issues that face the industry - training and recruitment,

evaluation, and regulation. According to Gummer, the solution to most of

these problems is within the industry’s grasp: ‘But it involves the one

thing you don’t have in public relations. It involves co-operation.



‘The things that have gone well in the industry have been driven by

external events,’ says Gummer. ‘The things that have gone badly are the

things that we should have done ourselves.’



The issue of self-regulation is a good example. Any industry body

tackling this obviously needs to reach critical mass of membership which

will make its sanctions meaningful. But there should also be a

registration scheme, and clients should be encouraged only to employ

registered practitioners and consultants. Yet these ideas, first mooted

nearly 20 years ago, have got nowhere.



The industry also needs champions to speak out loudly, and publicly, on

all matters which affect its reputation. Yet when the proverbial hits

the fan, its leading lights tend to keep their heads down - for fear of

getting it shot off by their own side, let alone outside critics.



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

Judge tells Max Clifford trial jury majority verdicts will be accepted

Judge tells Max Clifford trial jury majority verdicts will be accepted

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford has been told by the judge that he will accept majority verdicts after five days of deliberations on 11 charges of indecent assault.

Labour "fooling themselves" over plans to combat attacks on Miliband

Labour "fooling themselves" over plans to combat attacks on Miliband

Conservative-leaning public affairs experts have questioned the value of Labour's adoption of US-style campaigning tactics in the wake of the opposition hiring election strategist David Axelrod.

PLMR appoints Professor Tim Morris as non-executive director

The vet who helped establish the British Horseracing Authority's anti-doping and animal welfare programme has joined PLMR as a non-executive director.