Lobbying – friend or foe?

 I read with interest this story from BBC news online about the lobbying industry. The report focuses on a report by the Hansard society into the lobbying of MPs.

I have to admit that I have been paid to do lobbying for both one of the biggest public companies in the UK and more recently for one of the biggest PLC's in the UK so I do come at this from a certain perspective.

I firstly find it somewhat perplexing to hear arguments from people who believe lobbying is somehow a bad activity or something that shouldn't be done. If anyone thinks that MPs know everything about every subject that they are sadly mistaken. What lobbyists do is present their side of the case – sometimes on behalf of a company or client – other times on behalf on an interest group or indeed charity.

What I found interesting was that whilst MPs stated that they trusted charities more when they were lobbying them, the survey suggested that 51% of them were contacted by charities at least 20 times a week.

So far from lobbying being undertaken by bluechip companies one thing that comes out of this survey is just how much money charities must be spending attempting to influence our decision makers. I wonder just what budgets some of the big charities spend on this activity.

Stephen Pound, the Labour MP for Ealing commented, "Every single day we get a blizzard of e-mails, a snowstorm of post.

"It's one of the most flagrant wastes of money in modern politics, mostly because MPs are contacted in a scattergun way, rather than with precision."

I think Stephen is right – there is an immense amount ofmoney wasted in trying toinfluece MPs. do you think MPs have time let alone actually WANT to read a companies Annual Report? Yet believe me-some companies still send them. For me this is an interesting area. I wonder how long it is before lobbyists and campaign groups finally really embrace the new media and new technology as effective tools for lobbying?

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