Who would have thought Liam Fox would be the man to “shine the light of transparency on lobbying” as Dave promised to do before the last election? We should be thankful to the foolish Liam for his timely reminder to the Prime Minister who bravely said that “ secret corporate lobbying…is why people are so fed up with politics” and who promised to “force our politics to come clean about who is buying power and influence”.
Lobbying is a cancer in our democracy. Deliberately left untreated it has metastasized within the body politic and rendered it defenceless and unable to function properly. And despite his brave words, Cameron has done absolutely nothing about reforming the system. His pre-election promises hollow words. Lobbying, pre Fox, was nestling quietly on his rather overcrowded backburner.
So thank you ‘foolish Fox’, you have done the country a great service – albeit unintentionally. Thanks to your foolishness the extent of the spread of the cancer has become clear to all. The prime minister is going to be forced to do something about it – but will it be enough? There’s talk of a register, but this is a sop. The whole system needs to be dismantled – outlawed even.
That wealthy individuals, corporations and institutions can exert undue pressure and influence over politicians and the political process is surely the prime reason why our democracy has become exclusive: the interests of the electorate excluded and secondary to the interests (personal and collective) of politicians and political parties.
The British people are going to have to claim back their ‘democracy’ from our self-serving political class intent as they are on self-enrichment and personal advancement at the expense of those they purport to represent. How the coalition deal with the lobbying issue will be an indicator of how seriously they consider the problem to be. Will they consider it from their perspective or ours? It’ll be interesting to see. Chances are they’ll play for time, make a few token gestures and hope the whole thing goes away. We need to be on our guard.