THIS WEEK’S BIG QUESTION: How is the lobbying industry faring a year after Lobbygate? - Lobbyists were accused of peddling access a year ago this month

Patrick Kerr - London First

Patrick Kerr - London First

’Lobbying still has a bad reputation in this country. When we think of

lobbying, we think of cash for access and vested interests rather than

dialogue and putting a case to decision-makers. If there is one good

thing to have emerged from Lobbygate, it is that the industry has grown

up. Fewer agencies sell their services on the basis of who they know and

more are selling themselves on how they can help clients meet business


Julia Harrison - GPC

’I think Lobbygate was a huge shame. Public affairs people are

interested in policy, politics and problem-solving; they are a bright,

good-faithed bunch. But then a few individuals behave stupidly and spoil

it. Lobbygate has made us even more determined to focus on a

professional attitude. The focus for most companies and clients is now

on adding value and developing a high quality service.’

Tommy Hutchinson - NatWest Group

’I think lobbyists have calmed down since the affair. Some lobbyists

used to overhype what they could offer clients. The scandal has forced

them to take a hard look at their practices. Clients have also become

more questioning about the effectiveness of the advice they are given

and the level of fees they are being charged. People are asking the

basic question of whether they need lobbying at all.’

Nicholas Jones - BBC

’Lobbyists certainly have a much lower profile now and it is quite

noticeable that the bragging has stopped. One would frequently hear them

talking about their clients. They gave the impression they were slipping

effortlessly from a political to a lobbying role. They were seen as part

of the unacceptable face of New Labour, a new laddism people found

obnoxious. I think we are still suspicious of them, though.’

Roger Saoul - J Sainsbury

’There is no doubt Lobbygate has had a positive impact. It has

encouraged consultancies to review and raise their ethical standards.

This has strengthened the industry, as has the parallel trend for some

of the smaller consultancies to join larger organisations. The in-house

public affairs function has certainly found its orthodoxy confirmed

externally and internally.’

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