Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Probing the persuaders

Paul Flynn MP previews a parliamentary inquiry into lobbyists.

He points out that they operate far more subtly than in the past - "The crude bribes of the recent past, trips, meals and money, have been replaced by intelligent targeted flattery."

Lobbyists also tend to re-brand themselves as "public affairs consultants" and, at Westminster at least, have "gone underground". At the risk of prejudging his committee's inquiry, he argues that political lobbying still exerts great power and influence on legislators: "The Select Committee already has some hair raising evidence of dubious practices".

The lobbying industry was widely felt to be one of those aspects of Westminster life the new politics in Wales could and would do without.

But no sooner had the flags gone up outside Crickhowell House than various organisations, some fronted by familiar faces, sprung up, usually adding "Cymru" as a suffix to their name and/or claiming to be pillars of "civic society".

I was initially surprised at how (relatively) high-profile the Assembly lobbyists were, often appearing as political pundits. The Assembly Government has published details of meetings held with lobbying companies.

You could argue that operating "overground" did give their operation a greater transparency than their Westminster counterparts.

It will be interesting to see whether Paul Flynn's colleagues in Cardiff Bay choose to look at the industry.

1 comment:

Valleys Mam said...

Well Leighton Andrews and Andrew Davies were both public Affairs consultants -didnt Andrew D work for Leighton A.
So the Assembly have a head start