Lib Dems to charge Westminster lobbyists £25,000 to join Nick Clegg’s ‘Leader’s Forum’

The Liberal Democrats are trying to raise over £1m to top up their depleted coffers and central to this much-needed fundraising is a new ‘Leader’s Forum’ which is trying to sign up 50 businesses at £25,000 each.

The special on the menu is access to Lib Dem leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg at a series of dinners.

Clegg’s pitch to the market is as follows: “Dear Friend… we are in Government for the first time in almost 70 years and are playing a central role in creating a fairer and more prosperous Britain. Over the coming years there will be many tough decisions for us to make as part of this new endeavour in coalition politics.

“As we move forward, my colleagues and I want to listen to you and to continue this dialogue. This will be both with our own party supporters in the Liberty Forum and with leaders in business, entrepreneurs, cultural ambassadors and other like-minded individuals through both the Treasurer’s and Leader’s Forums.

“You don’t have to be a Liberal Democrat to take part. In today’s politics, all are welcome.”

This is pretty cheesy stuff (especially the ‘Dear Friend’ bit) and bound to land Clegg and his Lib Dem coalition government colleagues in even more hot water.

Not least because, as PR Week reports, the scheme was launched at a meeting for lobbyists hosted by Peter Bingle, an unreconstructed Tory who heads lobbying firm Bell Pottinger Public Affairs.

And that’s exactly who the Leader’s Forum is designed to attract, Westminster lobbyists rather than actual company managers who might be able to give Clegg and his colleagues their useful views on what is really happening in the economy.

So is this just a cynical money-raising exercise then?


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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.