Yesterday Dave had a go at the hidden hand in our democracy:
Now we all know that expenses has dominated politics for the last year. But if anyone thinks that cleaning up politics means dealing with this alone and then forgetting about it, they are wrong. Because there is another big issue that we can no longer ignore. It is the next big scandal waiting to happen. It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long, an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money. I’m talking about lobbying – and we all know how it works. The lunches, the hospitality, the quiet word in your ear, the ex-ministers and ex-advisors for hire, helping big business find the right way to get its way…
We don’t know who is meeting whom. We don’t know whether any favours are being exchanged. We don’t know which outside interests are wielding unhealthy influence. This isn’t a minor issue with minor consequences. Commercial interests – not to mention government contracts – worth hundreds of billions of pounds are potentially at stake. I believe that secret corporate lobbying, like the expenses scandal, goes to the heart of why people are so fed up with politics. It arouses people’s worst fears and suspicions about how our political system works, with money buying power, power fishing for money and a cosy club at the top making decisions in their own interest.
We can’t go on like this. I believe it’s time we shone the light of transparency on lobbying in our country and forced our politics to come clean about who is buying power and influence. Politics should belong to people, not big business or big unions, and we need to sort this out. So if we win the election, we will take a lead on this issue by making sure that ex-ministers are not allowed to use their contacts and knowledge – gained while being paid by the public to serve the public – for their own private gain.
Anyone involved in politics knows that lobbyists infest politics, lobbyists become politicians, politicians become lobbyists. It is a sordid underhand, undemocratic trade practised out of sight of the voters and taxpayers. Ex-ministers having to wait an extra year before profiting from their inside contacts is a minor improvement. In the interests of having a transparent democracy we need to move towards a system where all contact between those who are seeking to modify, hinder or help the passage of any legislation have to declare and register their contacts with politicians and civil servants. Lobbyists are covertly subverting democracy, it should be a criminal offence.
Is Dave really up for taking on the lobbyists? Guido so wants to believe he would. However look at the new Tory benches and the new intake of PPCs. Lobbyists and former lobbyists easily outnumber all other trades. Obama said much the same thing, before he appointed lobbyists to his administration…
How many times has Dave met power lobbyists like Matthew Freud, Alan Parker and Roland Rudd? We know he socialises with them, parties with them, holidays with them and even hops on their private jets. Is that a bit too cosy?