The news that Tory Shadow Cabinet member Francis Maude has pulled out of an APCO reception (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6859374.ece ) should give us all pause for thought. He’s done it in order to avoid being associated with a lobby company. And that’s something that affects us all, and should worry us all.
It follows his recent announcement that a future Conservative Government would impose statutory regulation should the industry as a whole not sign up to self-regulation.
I used to work at the Tory Party, and from what I can judge, this is no idle threat.
Too many public affairs agencies out there still choose not to be regulated. They provide various –frequently transparent- excuses for this. They say that their internal codes of conduct are than independent ones; that it wouldn’t be fair to their clients to reveal who they work with. Etc, etc, etc. What they really mean is that they’re free riders on the ethicality of their peers. That they are ashamed of who they work for. That they are incapable of adhering to proper codes of conduct.
Well, they now have a choice. If they continue to remain outside the pale of decent practice, then they will bring statutory regulation down upon not only themselves, but upon the public affairs industry as a whole. Their intransigence and obstinacy will inflict personal professional damage upon us all.
We’ll be working over the next few months to extend our coverage of the industry, and to increase the already forty-plus public affairs agencies that are today members of the PRCA and already embrace self-regulation. And we’ll also be naming and shaming those companies –and their chiefs- that are putting our industry’s future at risk. Because it’s time they realised the threat they pose to the industry that they purport to love.