Public Affairs is a vital part of political life

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politics 3 August 2009 0 Comments

Guido Fawkes’ normally excellent blog had a rather vicious go at Bell Pottinger PA guru Peter Bingle today; I was a little shocked at the visceral nature of the attack. It related to the decision of the Conservatives to urge PA companies to back off, and the decision of Bell Pottinger to not host a champagne reception at Conservative Party Conference.

This was all the more upsetting, partially since I reckon I had a fair chance of quaffing a couple of flutes myself at Conference this year, and it’s just about possible I’ll not now be able to get in to some of the better receptions.

Anyway, bugger champagne; not what this is about. The fact that so many people are keen when given the opportunity to express a full-throated hatred of PR and PA is a constant frustration to me. The idea that PR and PA is essentially the business of lying or manipulation is simply inaccurate.

The business and political worlds, in the UK especially, need and are desirous of interfaces where they can mutually size one another up, identify each others’ objectives and frankly exchange their needs and capacities. There does need to be an interface, too, for the various interest groups which exist in a functioning democracy with well studied separations of powers. It’s how the language of layperson’s ideas are translated into the language of politics.

Peter Bingle is just one (very effective) PA. His closeness to the Conservative party makes him potentially extremely effective at communicating in language the tories understand, which is no shame, but a fantastic talent and capacity to harness. The allegations of venality and the frankly nasty stuff Guido has written are mildly surprising, and I suspect there may be some deep dark history there.

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