Letter: Standards for lobbyists

FRAN ABRAMS is right to raise concerns about the rapid influx of wet-behind-the-ears, ex-Labour researchers to the ranks of the lobbying industry ("Revealed: Labour's links with lobbyists", 24 March).

However, businesses need input into the political process, and more experienced advisers can play a vital role in ensuring that an organisation's corporate strategy does not simply ignore the nuances of emerging public policy. There is a clear difference between experienced, strategic advisers and those who trade entirely on their "links", such as they are.

There must also be a clear divide between the functions of an objective consultant and that of a party fund-raiser. Lobby firms must not become clearing houses for party political funding. That is a lesson Labour must take on board.

New Labour needs its own Greer scandal like a hole in the head. The lobbying industry can play its part by sticking to the Association of Professional Political Consultants' Code of Conduct which is committed to absolute transparency, and ethical standards in public affairs consultancy.

JOHN McLEOD

Director

Shandwick Public Affairs

London EC4

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