Senior execs at one of the UK’s biggest communications agencies have been caught on camera by an undercover sting allegedly bragging about how they could help turn around negative public opinion about Uzbekistan.
But, as Pat Murtagh eloquently explains in the Independent, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with asking for professional help in preparing arguments or navigating the legislative or political landscape.
Politicians are not experts and often need to be alerted to pitfalls and flaws in draft policy in a timely way that can be most useful to their deliberations on a particular issue.
Lobbying can and should be done perfectly ethically but it relies on both the sound judgement of the practitioner and on the integrity of those who occupy positions of power to evaluate the information they receive and to apply caution about giving privileged or fast-track access to favoured individuals.
Effective lobbying does not require bragging about who you know. Rather, it is about building a case on solid evidence that stands on its own merits and conveying that case to the right people at the right time.
Good lobbyists should welcome more light being shone on these so-called ‘dark arts’.