Sunday, December 18, 2005

Oaten's PR Career


One of Mark Oaten's claims to be the LD David Cameron is that he too had a career in Public Relations. So we're keen to discover more.

His official biog says:

'Consultant for Shandwick Public Affairs 1988-92, Group Director for Westminster Communications, Managing Director of Westminster Public Relations 1996 .'

All these organisations are or were engaged in the mysterious (to us ordinary voters) world of political lobbying. Weber Shandwick (as they now are) explain their business thus:

"Parliamentary lobbying and campaigns: the core of our business is the delivery of effective campaigns to drive issues in Parliament and the assemblies across the UK

Analysis...

Political monitoring and intelligence gathering...

Political and public policy events: we mobilise large numbers of Parliamentarians and policy-makers at a variety of events, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, seminars, receptions and other fora."

Hmm. Not sure what any of that really means? No, neither are we. Although to reassure us they add:

"We are leading members of the Association of Professional Political Consultants and abide by its Code of Conduct . We are committed to ethical and transparent conduct in public affairs."

So that would appear to be in order.

And it's certainly more than you can find by Googling Westminster Communications and Westminster Public Relations. All you get about them are a few tantalising "small world" snippets from the nineties, such as:
  • Tonyscrony Lord Faulkner used to be a fellow director of Westminster Public Relations
  • Sir Ming used to be a director of Westminster Communications

And some of the links do also throw up references to that embarrassing cash for questions imbroglio...wait- yes, now we come to think about it...back in the early nineties wasn't it a bunch of lobbyists who actually got that whole thing going? And wasn't it also them that started bunging MPs for effecting privileged introductions? And wasn't there a great public outcry about the role of lobbyists generally? And didn't they then get off the hook by blaming it all on the venal Tories?

Not of course, that we're suggesting any of these lobbyists were involved. Still less that Mark had anything to do with any of it. Or indeed any form of skulduggery whatsoever.

It's just that...well, none of it really seems like PR in the sense of Public Relations, as you or I might understand the term. It all seems to be very inward looking Westminster Village stuff.

Not at all what Mr O's been trying to imply.

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