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Influencing Ministers & Whitehall

Yes Minister hosted an interactive and interesting event this week (24 February 09), looking at how providers can influence government and policy makers.  It was a small intimate gathering, with speakers including Rt Hon Francis Maude MP, Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP, Lord Toby Harris, Rt Hon Charles Clarke MP and Alex Brazier who is the former Director of Hansard Society’s Parliament and Government Programme.

Each speaker gave the audience an insight into lobbying ministers and the channels that are open to put forward views and potentially influence policy setting and law making. 

One thing was clear. There are many ways in which to have your say, but some of their interesting tips included:

  • Only approach Ministers when you have a well thought through message or campaign.  
  • Ministers do not have long attention spans (not our opinion, obviously!), so don’t waffle and get to the point. If writing, be succinct and get your key message down to one side of A4.
  • Try to link your message to their interests or policy aims in some way. They need to see what the benefits are to following up your ideas or comments.
  • The House of Lords make more amendments to government bills than the House of Commons, so MPs are not always the best people to lobby. Try and find a Lord to fight your case.
These are just a few of the tips and hints the audience were treated to, along with anecdotes of where lobbying had gone wrong or been very successful.
This was the first event that has been organised by Yes Minister and all those that attended said they found it interesting and worthwhile.  For more information on Yes Minister and the services they offer go to www.yesminister.org.uk.


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