THIS WEEK’S BIG QUESTION: Should lobbyists broker deals between clients and politicians?

The APPC is reviewing its code on sponsorship of political events by lobbyists’ clients

The APPC is reviewing its code on sponsorship of political events

by lobbyists’ clients



Simon Nayyar



PRCA Public Affairs Committee



’Labour’s business relations unit has been particularly active in this

area. This is not something initiated by lobbyists but by the parties

themselves. The fact that it is initiated by the parties, rather than

clients, creates a fake legitimacy for it. We must ensure that any code

for lobbyists on this issue is enforceable. You can’t force a client to

not sponsor an event, even if you can’t see any benefit in it for

them.’



Andrew Caesar-Gordon



PPP Healthcare



’At the end of the day rational argument wins change. A lobbyist is paid

for understanding the dynamics of persuasion and this sort of

sponsorship is a legitimate link of client issues with political

events.



I suspect concerns that individual lobbyists are advocating sponsorship

of dubious value for reasons of personal political conviction are

misplaced.



Even if genuine, these should be matters for the firm that employs them

and the client who hires them. Advisers advise and clients decide.’



Simon Morrison



Westminster City Council



’Whether lobbyists sell sponsorship as buying influence or not, there

are going to be a lot of clients that are going to perceive it as

that.



It is the perception by people at large and the media in general that it

is just another way of buying influence by the back door. The role of

lobbyists is to gather intelligence and advise clients. If they start

diversifying along those lines, particularly when lobbying the public

sector, it won’t help their image.’



Julia Harrison



GPC Market Access Brussels



’Facilitating dialogue and discussion around public policy issues is one

thing, political donations are another. Sponsorship can sit at either

end of the spectrum while the role of public affairs consultants lies in

adding value to our clients in the public policy debate. The key to all

these matters is transparency.’



John Arnold



The Communication Group



’All political parties are keen to maximise their fundraising potential

and if companies are willing to pay then it is their choice. Sponsorship

is a form of co-operation, rather than buying influence. Companies

co-operate with third parties such as think-tanks in sponsorship deals

for fringe meetings and pamphlets but they are not necessarily buying

the think-tank’s views.’



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