Latest post on Left Futures

Tory manipulation of the lobbying issue is barefaced hypocrisy

cash envelopeEvery time there is a lobbying abuse at Westminster, which is a regular occurrence, the government immediately announces they will introduce a charter to stamp out abusive practices and spread transparency. Nothing then happens until the next shameful incident which forces the government to act (or rather not act) immediately again. The last time round this arose, in 2011, the government promised a regulatory charter, but it would be voluntary (i.e. it applies only if you want it to).

As it turned out, as soon as the press sensation had died down, the matter was once again swept under the carpet. This time round, something might actually happen, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. And even before a bill is prepared, let alone agreed within the coalition and consulted on publicly, the Tories have already within hours diverted it for extraneous purposes to pursue their favourite pastime – bash the unions.

It takes some gall to use an anti-sleaze bill to control pre-election year spending by party-affiliated organisations and any organisations contributing £100,000 or more. This formulation neatly encapsulates the tade unions whilst excluding the enormous funding of the Tory party by Lord Ashcroft, the former Tory deputy chairman.

That is ironic, to say the least, when the unions are among the most democratically organised and most transparent organisations in Britain, in stark contrast to the behind-the-scenes machinations of Ashcroft and most corporate supporters of the Tory party.

Nor is this the first time that the government has outrageously seized on some bad event to advance their own agenda for purpose that have nothing whatever to do with the event in question. The horrific murder in Woolwich last week was immediately cited by Tory hard-liners to justify resurrecting the notorious Communications Bill which would require the recording of every phone call, email, text message and other online material. Yet senior police spokesmen have admitted that even if the bill had already been in statute, it would have made no difference whatever in the prior detection of the murderers.

But the final irony lies in another contemporary event where the regulation of lobbying would indeed have a dramatic impact, though that has somehow escaped the Tories’ notice. The Bilderberg conference of all the top brass in Western finance capitalism is meeting in the Grove hotel in Watford from next Thursday to Sunday.

It is being held behind closed doors in the most closely guarded secrecy, yet ministers including Osborne and Clarke will be attending to fix their main objectives for the next year or two. The chief execs of all the biggest companies and banks, EU Commissioners and presidents of key UN institutions will be lobbying hard not only each other but UK ministers as well to get their way with their own pet projects.

If there was a time when the British public are entitled to know what their representatives are getting up to and how it might affect government policy, this is it. In other words, where it really counts, silence and secrecy will still rule the day.

Comments are closed.

© 2024 Left Futures | Powered by WordPress | theme originated from PrimePress by Ravi Varma