Posts Tagged ‘lobbying’

Transparency Mr Cameron? Not when it comes to Lynton Crosby

20/07/2013, 07:00:16 AM

by Michael Dugher

On Wednesday, David Cameron finally unveiled the long-awaited lobbying bill called “Transparency of Lobbying.” The irony of this title has not been lost given that the last week has been dominated by the continued refusal by the prime minister to shed any light on his discussions with the tobacco lobbyist and chief Tory strategist, Lynton Crosby.

David Cameron has now been asked at least twelve times whether he has ever had a conversation with Mr Crosby about cigarette packaging – and he has refused to give a straight answer every time.

In a car-crash interview with Channel 4’s Gary Gibbon on Thursday, which was reminiscent of the famous Jeremy Paxman/ Michael Howard interview when Howard refused to answer a straightforward question a total of twelve times in succession, Cameron repeatedly refused to answer the simple question: have you ever had a conversation or had discussions with Mr Crosby about tobacco and plain packaging?

Each time, Cameron responds with the carefully constructed, legalistic reply: “I have never been lobbied by Mr Crosby on anything”.  This clearly does not answer the question.

So why is David Cameron being so evasive?  It is instructive to look back at the timeline of events to see how the Prime Minister got to this embarrassing situation.  In November last year, Cameron appointed Mr Crosby as a strategy advisor.  Just a few weeks later, Mr Crosby reportedly met with the prime minister, the chancellor and the prime minister’s chief of staff at Chequers to discuss the contents of the forthcoming queen’s speech.  Then, in the queen’s speech in May, the government dropped its plans for standardised tobacco packaging.

Last week, it was also revealed that Mr Crosby even chaired a meeting late last year where members of the tobacco industry discussed how to block the government’s plan to force cigarettes to be sold in plain packets

So what was discussed at the meeting at Chequers and other meetings Cameron had with Mr Crosby before the queen’s speech?  Reports have suggested that Mr Crosby told Cameron to “get the barnacles off the boat” by concentrating on core electoral battlegrounds and abandoning certain legislation.  If Cameron actually never had a conversation about tobacco policy with Mr Crosby, he should simply say so now.


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The cure for lobbying scandals is simple: More politicians with backbone

20/04/2012, 07:30:40 AM

by Kevin Meagher

Come the nuclear holocaust, political lobbyists will work for the invertebrates, bartering for concessions from the reigning cockroaches.

What is certain is that the indestructible public affairs industry will get past the government’s wishy-washy consultation on reigning-in Westminster’s pin-striped influence-peddlers which closes today.

Spurred into action by a cavalcade of lobbying calamities, ministers propose a statutory register of public affairs professionals; once they’ve blown the cobwebs of it from the last time it was proposed. So back around the track we go.

Constitutional affairs minister Mark Harper is in charge of spinning this old record. The stated purpose of the register is “transparency” in a bid to “open up politics” and make it “more accessible to everyone.” A White Paper is promised in due course.

But a statutory register (replacing the voluntary one that’s already in place) is roughly the equivalent of one of those photographs of a house for sale in an estate agents window. It’s a superficial gesture that gives us a partial flavour, a rough idea, without telling us anything specific about the contents – and only a fool would draw a conclusion on that basis.


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