SW1 this Monday morning is on hold until 3.30 pm, when opposition parties will hold a debate on the Owen Paterson sleaze crisis and try to embarrass the government. While Labour and the LibDems will try going in hard on this there will be plenty of members on the government side ready and waiting to point out paid lobbying is far from an exclusive past-time of Tory MPs.
Two of Starmer’s own Shadow Cabinet are lobbyists. Shadow Attorney General Lord Falconer works for US law firm Gibson Dunn, which has provided political lobbying advice in the UK. In April Guido revealed Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman works for the major London lobbying firm Grayling.
When challenged about the former by Marr yesterday, Starmer feebly said they’re not allowed to do any political lobbying, however it’s a different question for Members of the House of Lords as they’re unpaid – despite pocketing over £320 a day just for turning up.
Labour MP Khalid Mahmood would also lose his £25,000-a-year Policy Exchange role if Sir Keir’s changes came into being. Starmer, however, was happy for Mahmood to sit on the opposition front benches last year despite the MP’s second job, and to make matters worse the Birmingham MP was subject to a Standards Commissioner investigation during his time as a shadow defence minister, the outcome of which was the commissioner noting he’d failed to declare his Police Exchange job for 12 months. Starmer did nothing.
Guido’s long been an advocate of both putting cowbells on lobbyists, and forcing MPs to wear compulsory broker’s jackets with the names and colours of their union paymasters and business donors on them. In the end he has a feeling this afternoon’s tit-for-tat debate will end up with the public merely feeling all MPs are as bad as each other…