Who pulls the strings? After 'Cash-for-Cameron' scandal the need for lobby transparency couldn't be greater

Publication date: 
Monday, March 26, 2012
Unlock Democracy

The UK government finally released their proposal for a register of lobbyists, a sham. The proposed new rules only cover a fraction, less than 1/4 of the industry; no meaningful information, only the names of those lobbying. Take action here: http://www.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/lobbying-letter

E-action of Unlock Democracy to put pressure on the UK government to improve the proposals for the lobbyist register

Executive summary / policy recommendations: 

Haunted by David Cameron’s prediction that lobbying “is the next big scandal waiting to happen” the government are under pressure. After a series of scandals of which yesterday's 'Cash for Cameron' scandal is just the latest, it's time for the government to show it's serious about it. 

Scandals involving inappropriate links between professional lobbyists, politicians and civil servants have been constantly in the news. Only yesterday the filming by undercover reporters for the Sunday Times shed light on a state of affairs where those who are willing to pay large sums for privileged access. 

Time and again it emerges that lobbyists have been courting politicians and officials to change laws and regulations or award them, or their clients, government contracts, all to benefit their bottom line and often against the public interest.

Lobbying is an essential part of a healthy democracy. However, professional lobbying – an industry worth £2 billion in the UK – can subvert democracy by giving those with the greatest resources undue influence and privileged access to politicians.

The problem is, at the moment, most of this is done in secret. We can’t make an informed decision about what is or isn’t appropriate. If we don’t know who is pulling the strings, how can we hold our elected politicians to account?

The solution is a robust public register of lobbying.  But that’s not what the government is proposing.  Under their plan, in-house lobbyists of large multinationals would be exempt; small shops lobbying via a public affairs company would not. And they wouldn’t require lobbyists to declare what they are lobbying for, who they are lobbying or how much money they are spending on lobbying.

The government know they can’t afford another major scandal to break out without having taken this issue seriously; that makes them vulnerable.  So the more we can show that this is an issue that matters to ordinary people right now, the more we can get them to change their minds.

As a first step, please co-sign Unlock Democracy's joint letter, which will be presented to Mark Harper, the UK Minister in charge of Constitutional and Political Reform before the end of the official consultation period in mid-April.  Stand up and be counted by following this link:


Let’s send a clear signal to government over the next fortnight: please add your name today.