CIPR on Ruth Davidson: serving legislators taking on paid political consultancy work does nothing to improve public confidence
At a time when trust in our political institutions remains low, it is the CIPR’s view that serving legislators taking on paid political consultancy work does nothing to improve public confidence in politics or lobbying.
CIPR have long called for increased transparency around lobbying by calling on the government to actively support the development of high professional standards and accountability, and to work with the public relations profession to build stronger institutions that can regulate the ethical conduct of lobbyists.
CIPR encourages any organisation employing elected officials – whether as board members of major organisations or trustees of charities – to be transparent about the role of those elected officials and their activities undertaken during their time of employment. In the case of Ruth Davidson, the agency hiring her, Tulchan Communications, has been clear that she has been employed in an advisory role and will not be engaged in lobbying. In this case the onus is now on them to evidence that Ruth Davidson is not engaged in lobbying, defined by CIPR as “activities which are carried out in the course of a business for the purpose of influencing government or advising others how to influence government”.
Politicians have strict rules regarding second jobs as defined in their Code of Conduct and Rules relating to the conduct of Members. Last year CIPR consulted with the Committee on Standards in Public Life on a report on MPs outside interests.
The paper, which was welcomed by the CIPR, concluded that “Parliament needs to enable transparency with the public about the registration and declaration of interests” and called on new guidance to Parliamentary candidates on the registration of outside interests so voters know whether candidates intend to carry on any of their existing jobs if they are elected. Most significantly the paper declared that the rules on lobbying need to be clearer and that MPs should not be able to act as paid political consultants.
No employee of Tulchan Communications is a member of the CIPR.
UK Lobbying Register
CIPR set up and manage the UK Lobbying Register (UKLR), a universal voluntary lobbying register available to all professionals engaged in lobbying within the UK. The UKLR, which is free of charge to search and register, provides the public with a channel to complain about the conduct of a registered lobbyist.
All lobbyists – agency, in-house or freelance – are welcome to join. It is a requirement of CIPR membership for any members who lobby to join. All registrants are bound by a code of conduct, either the CIPR's or another relevant and effective code.
About the Chartered Institute of Public Relations
Founded in 1948, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is the Royal Chartered professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK and overseas. The CIPR is by far the biggest member organisation for PR practitioners outside of North America. By size of turnover and number of individually registered members, we are the leading representative body for the PR profession and industry in Europe.
The CIPR advances professionalism in public relations by making its members accountable to their employers and the public through a code of conduct and searchable public register, setting standards through training, qualifications, awards and the production of best practice and skills guidance, facilitating Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and awarding Chartered Public Relations Practitioner status (Chart.PR).