MPs hit out at bad lobbying

Lobbying ethics - Policymakers reveal their experiences in a new publication.

MPs and other policymakers have lifted the lid on bad lobbying, with one describing 'the most counter-productive campaign ever', which was by the Countryside Alliance, in a new publication.

As public affairs professionals await the outcome of the Commons public administration select committee's inquiry into the industry, the experiences of policymakers past and present are revealed.

Shadow Europe minister Mark Francois, Liberal Democrat youth spokesperson Lynne Featherstone, Labour MSP George Foulkes and Bill Clinton's former chief of staff Karen Tramontano are among those to speak out.

Foulkes is heavily critical of the Countryside Alliance's lobbying against a ban on fox-hunting.

He writes: 'Along with most other Labour MPs, I encountered the most counter- productive campaign ever experienced by the Countryside Alliance. The abuse was almost as vitriolic as Labour representatives now experience from the SNP's cybernats with little pretence to logic....

'They then refined their tactics with an invasion of the Commons by upper-class yobs, based on subterfuge and downright lies. But even this was surpassed by an angry, loud and abusive march which brought Bournemouth to a halt during the Labour Party Conference. Unsurprisingly I was not convinced by the subtlety and sophistication of their campaign and voted for a ban.'

Francois writes the 'worst lobbying experience I can remember' was when he served on the Commons environmental audit committee and the House Builders Federation gave evidence to the committee. He recalls: 'They had little to say, other than to hide behind a recently issued government report, and they were extremely defensive in responding to questions. They had prepared virtually nothing to say about the effect of house building in the environment.'

The Insight Public Affairs Guide to Lobbying is due out this month.

Insight Public Affairs MD John Lehal said: 'The lobbying guide is taking a balanced and honest look at our industry.

'We have to accept that there are examples of bad practice, and in pointing to these failures, we define the best-practice approaches that companies, NGOs and pressure groups should be taking in executing public policy campaigns that meet their strategic objectives.'

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