You have probably heard about the many scandals that in recent years have rocked Westminster and the reputation of British politics. Past and current UK MPs and other officials have faced questions about their involvement in lobbying practices as well as whether they have violated any rules.
Only last year, the Greensill scandal came to light, in which it was revealed that the UK government had given special treatment to the financial services firm Greensill Capital. This happened because former prime minister David Cameron texted Conservative ministers on behalf of the firm that was employing him. Although in the end, he was found not to have violated any rules the incident still caused many to question the role of lobbyists in British politics. And it was not the only one, last November former Minister Owen Paterson resigned as an MP after it was revealed that he had lobbied, on behalf of two companies, civil service officials and ministers at the Food Standards Agency and the Department of International Development.
While there have been many scandals, there are also many examples of lobbyists working ethically and within the rules to help shape government policy. For example, the British Medical Association (BMA) represents the interests of doctors in the UK. It lobbies on a range of issues including medical education, research, and public health. Lobbying, also referred to as public affairs or public relations, remains a legitimate way of trying to influence government policy.
So, what is lobbying?
Lobbying can be simply defined as the act of trying to influence government decision-making on behalf of a particular interest group. This can be done in various ways, such as by writing to or meeting with MPs, lords, or civil servants, or by organising public campaigns.
There are many different types of lobbyists, ranging from businesses and charities to trade unions and environmental groups. Some lobby on behalf of a particular industry, such as the financial sector or the energy sector, while others represent the interests of specific groups, such as think tanks, trade unions, professional bodies and many others.
How can you become a lobbyist?
In the UK, there are no specific rules or qualifications that you need in order to become a lobbyist. However, if you want to be successful in this field, it is important to have a good understanding of how the political system works and how decisions are made.
It is also useful to have some experience working in politics or campaigns, the civil service, or volunteering for charities as this will give you a better understanding of how government works and the best way to influence decision-makers.
If you are interested in becoming a lobbyist, there are a few things you need to know. First, it is important to understand that lobbying is not illegal. It is simply advocating for or against a particular issue or policy. Anyone can do it, whether you are an individual citizen writing to your MP about an issue you care about or a large organisation employing professional lobbyists to influence government policy.
After that, you should consider what area you would like to lobby on behalf of. What do you want to achieve as a lobbyist? What issues do you care about? What difference do you want to make? These are all questions you should consider when you are starting out your career. Your area of choice could be anything from healthcare to education or the environment. Once you have decided on an issue, research the organisations that lobby on this issue and see if there are any vacancies.
You can also look into joining a professional organisation such as the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR ) or the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC). These organisations offer training and development opportunities, as well as networking events which can help you to meet other lobbyists and learn about the industry.
Another way to get into lobbying is to start your own business. This will require some initial investment but will give you the freedom to decide who you want to work with and what issues you want to lobby on.
To conclude, if you are interested in becoming a lobbyist, there are a number of ways to get started. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so it is important to find the route that works best for you. With hard work and dedication, anyone can succeed in this field. In general, anyone can become a lobbyist in the UK as there are no specific rules or qualifications that are needed. However, to be successful it is important to understand how the political system works and have some experience working in politics or the civil service.
Why should graduates become lobbyists?
The term lobbyist conjures up a range of images and associations. For some, lobbyists are the people who cause problems, distort democracy and who make it difficult for politicians to do their job. For others, lobbyists are the solution to those very same problems – they provide information and expertise that can help solve complex issues and they hold power to account on behalf of citizens.
Lobbying – the attempt to influence public policy through engaging with elected officials and other decision-makers – is a legitimate and important part of democracy. In the UK, anyone can lobby provided they do so in compliance with the law.
There are many reasons why graduates should consider becoming lobbyists. Here are just a few:
1) It’s a great way to make a difference
If you care about an issue, lobbying is a great way to make a difference. Lobbying can be used to influence public policy on a range of issues, from healthcare and education to the environment and climate change.
2) You can have a real impact
As a lobbyist, you can have a real impact on the decisions that are made about the issues you care about. You can help to shape public policy and make sure that the voices of those you represent are heard by decision-makers.
3) It’s a great career choice
Lobbying is a challenging and rewarding career. It offers the opportunity to work on a range of issues, meet interesting people and make a real difference. There are many different types of lobbying jobs, so there is sure to be one that’s right for you.
4) You can earn a good salary
Lobbying is a well-paid profession, with the potential to earn a good salary. The average salary for a lobbyist in the UK is £40,000, but this can vary depending on your experience and the sector you work in.
5) You don’t need a specific degree
You don’t need a specific degree to become a lobbyist. While some lobbyists do have degrees in politics or law, many have degrees in other subjects. The important thing is to have the skills and qualities that are needed to succeed in this career.
What are the skills needed to be a successful lobbyist?
a) Communication skills
As a lobbyist, you will need to be an excellent communicator. You will need to be able to explain complex issues clearly and persuasively and build relationships with a range of people.
b) Research skills
Lobbying is all about persuasion, so it is important to be able to research issues thoroughly and understand the evidence. This will help you to make the best case for your cause and to win over decision-makers.
c) Negotiation skills
As a lobbyist, you will need to be a skilled negotiator. You will need to be able to find common ground, compromise and persuade others to see your point of view.
d) Analytical skills
Lobbying involves a lot of complex issues, so it is important to be able to analyse information and make reasoned arguments. This will help you to identify the most important points and to present them in the best way.
e) Strategic thinking
Lobbying is a complex and challenging profession, so it is important to be able to think strategically. This means being able to identify your goals, plan your campaigns carefully and evaluate your progress.
So, if you’re interested in making a difference, having a real impact and earning a good salary, lobbying could be the perfect career choice for you. There are many different types of lobbying jobs, so there is sure to be one that’s right for you. All you need is the passion, the skills and the determination to succeed.
Minoas graduated with a Merit upon studying the full-time MPA Public Administration – International Development degree (MPA-ID) at the University of York. He is currently working as a freelance EU affairs consultant in Belgium.
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