Transparency of lobbying bill: will this gag CTC/charities etc?

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  • Transparency of lobbying bill: will this gag CTC/charities etc?
  • julianwilson
    Member

    this bill is up for its second reading in the house of commons tomorrow.

    According to the blurb, (sponsored by the 2nd biggest beeyatch to private undeclared lobbyists ever, one Andrew Lansley MP 😆 )

    introduces a statutory register of consultant lobbyists and establishes a Registrar to enforce the registration requirements
    regulates more closely election campaign spending by those not standing for election or registered as political parties
    strengthens the legal requirements placed on trade unions in relation to their obligation to keep their list of members up to date.

    It also provides a framework to crimninally prosecute and silence non-political paties from spending more than a piddling amount of money lobbying in the 12 months before elections, including local and euro. This does not seem to silence the looney views of UKIP and the BNP, but it will considerably quieten the often more resonable and representative voices of all manner of charities, volontary organisations and apolitical/politically unaligned/unbiased movements such as the CTC, countryside alliance. Neither will it have any teeth to combat the behind-closed-doors favours for mates of which the Sponsor Andrew Lansley MP has been so often associated with by the press. IMHO this is the real issue: most recently so brazenly dodged by Cameron in the smoking packaging u-turn recently (when is your paid political adviser actually acting in the interested of the Tobacco industry and when is he doing his job properly? 😉 )

    I am suprised to see the CTC not making more noise about this: I guess they feel they have a lot to lose currently in terms of this government’s apparent support of cycling but lets not pretend that the relatively welcoming stance towards cycling will be maintained by any flavour government in a few years time.

    Anyway, email your MP etc etc.

    More here: Linky.

    Premier Icon gofasterstripes
    Subscriber

    I’m very interested in this. Can anyone who knows about the subject shed any light on the effect mentioned above re charities etc. I hear what, for example 38degrees is saying, but I don’t like to act* without knowing some relevent information.

    *Even if it’s just emailing my MP.

    julianwilson
    Member

    The trade union bit is clearly very timely given all this strathclyde/Unite business, and being clear exactly whose interests a trade union might be upholding in lobbying an issue. Personally and as a bleeding heart lefty-union member I can understand this bit and the ‘headline’ of it seems pretty sound. I would point out however that Union money is infinitely more transparent than the money used by big business to lobby government though, and I don’t expect much will change in light of this part.

    But this bit:

    -introduces a statutory register of consultant lobbyists and establishes a Registrar to enforce the registration requirements
    -regulates more closely election campaign spending by those not standing for election or registered as political parties

    The idea would seem* to be noble: there has been much consternation about politicians ears being unfairly bent by big business who then influence manifesto/poliicy in ways the actual voting public do not necessarily want or in many cases understand. As such, the more money and resources you spend the more likely you might be to get what you want done even if you have only have your own vote come election day.

    So the principle of capping the amount big business can spend on lobbying (and diverting politicians’ attention and concerns away from what the rest of the electorate wants) seems sound.

    However, where do you even strt to draw the line? Shall we limit profit-making plc’s lobbying but not trade unions? Or stop the unions too but not charities? What about clubs and societies with many members but not registered as charities? What about churches and religious groups? What about groups of militant atheists too? ( 😉 )

    The possibility with the white paper as it currently reads is that if you are caught spending too much money or using too much of your resources on lobbying too close to an election you can be gagged and prosecuted under criminal law.

    At best this part if the bill seems a an ill-thought-out and overly blunt way of trying to make a level playing field for smaller groups to be able to lobby ‘as much’ as big business does. (ie no-one can do very much at all)

    At worst it seems like a cynical and undemocratic attempt to be able to silence troublesome charities and groups that embarass politicians closer to election time (so of course 38 Degrees are quaking in their organic handmade hemp shoes 😉 ), without addressing the core issue which is that lobbying by charities and non-prioft organisations/clubs is already very transparent and measurable, whereas big business we know little about the mechaincs and money, and will probably continue in the shadows heavily protected by expensive lawyers, loyalities and politicians in their pockets.

    Teh pretty sickening irony is that this bill is being seconded/supported by Andrew Lansley, who having had the bejeesus lobbied out of him in private before and shortly after the last election, been the darling of private health and pharma companies for years, and who of course started off the health and social care act, is on course for a hugely paid board position in a private health provider once he quits politics.

    oliverd1981
    Member

    To be fair lobbying either political party in the run up to an election is pretty much a waste of money – just hold on and see who wins. 38 degrees has far more legitimacy than any of the major political parties anyway. I fact most corporations are more democratic and trustworthy than politcal parties.

    Premier Icon gofasterstripes
    Subscriber

    That, wot you wrote there guv, makes a lot of sense.

    Whether it’s muddling-through* or manipulative, scheming lawmaking to further the purposes of those that stand to benefit from it’s introduction, it’s not going to do much good is-it?

    *http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b038zhbc/Bremners_One_Question_Quiz_Is_Our_Democracy_Working/

    julianwilson
    Member

    To be fair lobbying either political party in the run up to an election is pretty much a waste of money – just hold on and see who wins.

    Ah but you can in effect ‘lobby’ the electorate in the later stages. It is quite conceivable that someone the size of say the NSPCC could swing a quite a few voters if something big enough to do with children became an electoral ‘issue’. Likewise greenpeace/FOE if there were big green issues swinging voters left or right. And that would be most inconvenient for the politicians…

    oliverd1981
    Member

    There’s no reall left right divide in most issues though is there, it hought the parties would be grateful of any organisation giving them a sexy bandwaggon to jump on, or in the case of 38 degrees, pointing out where they’re just being utter gits.

    Premier Icon kimbers
    Subscriber

    saw an interview with andrew lansley about it

    as said above, they couldnt have picked a less compromised person to lead this

    Junkyard
    Member

    Seems odd that legitimate and democratic organisations like Unions cannot lobby – will they stop the ramblers for example?

    regulates more closely election campaign spending by those not standing for election or registered as political parties

    This seems wrong to me. it is surely poerfectly reasonable to openly campaign for an issue without being political. What is wrong with that? I assume that is just to get at the Unions who are very clear on what they do and allow members to select and vote on what they do and what they spend. Their funding and aims is far more democratic and open than any political party tbh
    It also seems legitimate to have a voice for a large number of individuals with a niche interest and legitimate for them to promote and inform the MP’s on what the real experts think on this.
    Surely what we are all concerned about is unelected unrepresented big business, private business, rich individuals lobbying the govt in order to make money for themselves by influencing govt policy rather than being terrified that CTC speak for cyclists.
    That is what we need to prevent not “pressure groups”

    as for Lansley he is the embodiment of what is wrong with the current system

    Conflict of interest[edit source | editbeta]
    While in opposition as health spokesman, Andrew Lansley accepted a donation of £21,000 from John Nash, the chairman of private healthcare provider Care UK and founder of the private equity fund Sovereign Capital, which owns several other private healthcare companies, to help fund his private office, leading to allegations of a conflict of interest.[20] Such companies stand to be the largest beneficiaries of Lansley’s bill passed by the Coalition and House of Lords to increase the use of private health providers within the NHS.[21]

    Political insights assisting spouse’s business[edit source | editbeta]
    Andrew Lansley’s wife, Sally Low, is the managing director of Low Associates. Sally Low denies that Low Associates is involved in lobbying and instead describes its activities as provision of “strategic advice” to clients. Low Associates helps people prepare before they give evidence to committees of MPs, and Sally Low has given speeches on improving lobbying skills, in which she said that lobbyists should “establish positive relationships with decision-makers before you need their help”. Lobbyist clients of Low Associates personnel have previously worked for a variety of companies including those with an interest in health, such as SmithKline Beecham, Unilever and Procter & Gamble.[22]

    Recession[edit source | editbeta]
    Andrew Lansley wrote a blog entry on the Conservative Party website on 25 November 2008, which claimed the “good things” from a recession included people being able to spend more time with their families.[23] He was later forced to apologise.[24]

    Parliamentary expenses[edit source | editbeta]
    In the Parliamentary expenses scandal in 2009, Lansley was accused of ‘flipping’, or redesignating, his second home, after claiming for renovation of a rural cottage prior to selling it. It is claimed that he then ‘flipped’ his second home designation to a London flat, and claimed thousands of pounds for furniture. Lansley responded to the claims by stating that his claims were “within the rules”.[25]

    Health video message[edit source | editbeta]
    Andrew Lansley faced criticism[26] when he appeared speaking on a video played at NHS patients’ bedside in England, the continuous loop video was played to patients as the main free content on the Hospedia system. When asked by Tom Blenkinsop MP, Lansley replied he received no payment, and there was no cost to the taxpayer.[27]

    Health-related bills[edit source | editbeta]
    Lansley provoked controversy by factoring into public health related bills representations from fast food companies such as McDonald’s, KFC and processed food and drink manufacturers such as PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, Unilever, Mars and Diageo on obesity, diet-related disease and alcohol, said by campaign groups[which?] to be the equivalent of handing smoking policy over to the tobacco industry.[28][29]

    julianwilson
    Member

    An article in the 20p independent yesterday says there already was a cap of sorts on lobbying costs. In which case the case for a ‘level playing field’ grows rather weak.

    The more I think about this the more it also smells of Lynton “I am an advisor not a tobacco company lobbyist, honest Dave” Crosby trying ot have his cake and eat it. 👿

    Junkyard
    Member

    Yes it seems more about stifling vaguely left wing and /or populist movements whilst entrenching the professional political lobbyist – his wife’s company would do well out of this arrangement for example

    I am not sure whay anyone would see this as a solution as it is the lack of accountability and the perception of bribing and cosy deals between friends[ for future benefits] that would be the main concern and he is entwined in all of that

    slowoldgit
    Member

    Over at order-order.com there’s a rather damning quote from a letter written by nice Mr Lansley to Tory MPs.

    Politicians, eh? It could possibly make him look so bent that all the others would notice.

    julianwilson
    Member

    Lansley to COnservative MP’s last night:

    I will stand up for the role of lobbyists; they do an important job, representing wide views to Government to assist informed and considered policy making… it is not my job, nor the job of Government, to control the lobbying industry; nor to create a burdensome and bureaucratic monster.

    Exactly what or rather who is this bill really for then?

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