Watson shock departure: lobbyists speak out

I’ve just been speaking to a few senior lobbyists about Tom Watson’s decision to stand down.  They all agreed that lobbying reform will now be even further delayed, but there was disagreement about how far it would be kicked in to touch. See the full story on prweek.com.

Former CIPR president Lionel Zetter said reform was still on the agenda: ‘In theory, anybody new coming in would have some kind of say about the response if it’s not already formed. It could now be delayed by a week or a month or until the eve of the summer recess, but it won’t go away.’

But others were not so sure. Bell Pottinger’s Peter Bingle said: ‘Tom’s departure means that in the short-term there is no momentum within HMG to do anything about lobbying. The focus now needs to be on the Tories.’ And Open Road boss Graham McMillan reckoned that lobbying reform could completely backfire in the current climate – he suggested that cracking down on lobbyists it might look a bit like MPs trying to divert attention from their own misdemeanours.

Meanwhile, SpinWatch spokeswoman Tamasin Cave gave Watson the Andy Coulson treatment. ‘He has dithered for five months over the select committee’s recommendation for a mandatory register of lobbyists,’ she complained. 

Still waiting to hear from the Cabinet Office and the man himself…

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