In politics, strategy should always take precedence

It’s ages since I chuckled so much - admittedly ironically - over a newspaper article. But last week’s PR Week article on the rebirth of lobbying under New Labour had me guffawing. New lobbying seems more corrupt than Old Lobbying since, I gather, it’s not who you know which may secure access but whether you are politically correct with it.

It’s ages since I chuckled so much - admittedly ironically - over a

newspaper article. But last week’s PR Week article on the rebirth of

lobbying under New Labour had me guffawing. New lobbying seems more

corrupt than Old Lobbying since, I gather, it’s not who you know which

may secure access but whether you are politically correct with it.



The new arrogance was summed up by the Communication Group’s Peter

Bingle: ’Those lobbyists who can’t get access talk about strategy’. In

fact, as the article hinted, a more effective way of shifting New Labour

than bending their ear is bending their minds through the media to which

they are incredibly sensitive.



I bend their minds regularly in print and on radio and TV. But my

purpose this week is to state the case for strategists. I am prompted to

do so by Sir Leon Brittan, our senior Commissioner in Brussels, who was

reflecting on Europe’s PR problem in the same issue of this newspaper as

Bingle pronounced his first law of New Lobbying.



Sir Leon proved conclusively that he needs a strategist as much now as

when, 11 years ago, he authorised the Westland leak. This is because he

failed, perhaps because he is incapable, of facing up to two facts:

first, the European Union, as it is pretentiously described, is not all

it is cracked up to be; and second, it is trying to gallop before it can

crawl.



The EC, as I call it, is infinitely better than making war. It has been

astonishingly successful in keeping the peace on a continent still

capable of combining civilisation with appalling barbarity. Witness

Bosnia. But it slept for 30 years until, incredibly, Margaret Thatcher

roused its ambition to advance by handbagging its unfair financing, its

ridiculous common agricultural policy and its claim to be a common

market. She put a bomb behind the completion of the single market and

thereby fed the federalist elite’s cherished ambition to create a Euro

superstate.



There was no stopping Chancellor Kohl when the Berlin wall fell and he

saw the opportunity to go down in history as not just the re-unifier of

Germany but the great unifier of Europe. And so within two years we

shall move to a single currency for some, regardless of the shambles of

its pale ERM predecessor and the problems it will create for the moral

imperative of enlargement to the East. Yet the EC is not yet a

free-trading single market nor an industrial rather than agricultural

community. It is also divisive, bullying towards dissenters, incompetent

in international affairs - witness the Gulf and Bosnia - and utterly

undemocratic.



Until Sir Leon recognises these strategic facts, he will have PR

problems.



Reality counts for more than access.



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