(nb. I am not DK)
David Cameron's pledge to "curb the lobbying industry" has been widely welcomed by the pundits. Spam wants to shine “the light of transparency” on lobbying so that politics “comes clean about who is buying power and influence.” Sounds more like he's trying to divert the public's contempt away from politicians and onto those evil corporations but if it reduces bribery and keeps a few ex-ministers' snouts out of the trough, it can't be a bad thing.
fakecharities.org has been shining the "light of transparency" on a certain type of lobbyist for some time. Unfortunately, it's not the state-funded pressure groups who are the target of the Tory purge, in fact they're delighted with the plan. Less access for business means more access for them.
David Miller of the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency welcomed Mr Cameron’s admission that something needs to be done about lobbying.But he added: “If they are serious about listening to ordinary people, the Conservative Party must pledge to introduce a mandatory register of lobbyists as soon as possible so that the public can see who is lobbying whom, and the extent to which national policies are being influenced by commercial forces.”
And what is the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency? A group of "ordinary people" trying to get their voice heard? Is it fuck. It's a coalition of predominantly windmill-worshipping, anti-capitalist lobby groups. They include War On Want, the Pesticide Action Network, Action Aid and Friends of the Earth, all of whom help create the illusion of public support for 'climate justice', big government and higher taxes. Just the kind of groups the political class like, then, and - with faith in the 'scientific consensus' dropping to a pathetic 26% - they need them more than ever. All four of them are, of course, funded by the European Commission.
The Alliance also includes Unlock Democracy (AKA Charter88) which is not even allowed to be a charity because of its campaigning activities, quite an achievement when you consider what the rest of them get up to. It includes the anarchist arseholes at Corporate Watch, as well as the mighty Greenpeace. And the whole thing is co-ordinated by Spinwatch, the blogging home of Andrew Rowell, the activist-journalist who wrote the non-peer reviewed article which resulted in Amazongate.
It is part of the wider Alliance for Lobbying Transparency & Ethics Regulation (Alter-EU), an organisation dominated by Friends of the Earth and other eco-campaigners, who monitor corporate lobbying and produce reports for the European Commission. The fox patrolling the chicken-coop, in other words. The EC, in turn, funds these groups to lobby itself:
In 2006 the EU gave more than 7.7m euros (£5.5m; $11.2m) to at least 40 environmental organisations to help them lobby in Brussels.
They included big campaign groups such as WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) and FoE Europe.
You have, then, unelected European Commissioners throwing money at unelected pressure groups to lobby for policies which have minimal support amongst the public. This is the type of nice, honest, transparent lobbying that the politicians would like to see replace those dodgy deals done in
smoke-filled smokefree rooms - the corporate elite replaced by the political elite.
As long as this cosy relationship between the state and its army of activists remains, Dave is in no position to complain that "a tiny percentage of the population craft legislation that will apply to one hundred per cent of the population." Whatever the merits of reforming the lobbying system, if it results in more power resting in the hands of the political class and its favoured pressure groups, it will merely substitute one set of vested interests for another.
Any clamp-down on corporate lobbying must be accompanied by a clear-out of the parasitic NGOs who have thrived for over a decade. Since not a single one of them has political views that are even vaguely of the right, there is no chance of Labour ever stripping them of their ill-gotten gains. For any Conservative government it should be a no-brainer.