Before the last election David Cameron claimed that Lobbying was the next big scandal and that he would clean up Parliament. What has happened? The government introduced a lobbying bill (aka the Gagging bill) which does nothing whatsoever to limit the lobbying of government by large wealthy companies and individuals or the revolving door between ministers, advisers and lucrative directorships in private business. If this is not open corruption it soon will be with government contracts being outsourced not to small and medium sized British firms with a stake in our community but always to large international corporations. Corporations with dodgy track records, some even facing criminal charges while being allowed to lobby for new contracts.
If the lobbying bill does not prevent any of this legalised corruption what does it do. Well naturally enough it is aimed at inhibiting grass roots organisations, charities and unions from any kind of ‘political activity’ in the run up to the elections – hence its name ‘the gagging bill’.
So we have the situation where newspaper moguls based out side the UK, not paying UK tax, are able to use their papers to brazenly pump what is little more than propaganda at the British people through out the campaigning period. Wealthy individuals and companies can hand over obscene amounts of money to help the Tories buy the election and yet charities that have to deal with the day to day effects of the government’s policies are restricted from raising their concerns. So much for free speech.
Ironically the gagging law is so indiscriminate that it inadvertently affects right wing blogs like the Guido Fawkes Blog run by Paul Staines. I hope he does not mind me pasting the extract below but he sums up the situation much more succinctly than I could manage.
Why are the Tories afraid of free speech? Well perhaps its because their polices are based on dogma, ideology and, let’s not pussy foot around, ignorance of facts and evidence. After five years reality has arrived to trump ideology, as it always does, whether it is the ideology of the left or of the right. The chickens are coming home to roost and the Tories only hope is to continue trying to pull the wool, over our eyes.
You won’t hear me say this very often but I am with Guido on this and won’t be paying attention to any rules and regulations from the government while the right wing press are free to print what they like and the Tory party is indulging in a campaign of half truths, deceptions and outright lies.
Foot note: without anyone noticing and under the eyes of the opposition parties the Tories managed to push through a law that raised party election spending limits from £26.5 million to £32.7 million. That’s a 23% increase when the rest of us are lucky if our income did not go down. The Conservatives did this despite receiving contrary advice from an independent body. The Electoral Commission – that sets the standards for elections – recommended against such an increase for the long campaign (starting on the 19th December). Instead, they advised on a £2.9million increase once the short campaign starts. The Tories entirely ignored this, or, if you want to give them the benefit of the doubt, interpreted it in their own way to mean they should double the number the Electoral Commission suggested and introduce this new law as soon as possible.
 Sodexo, which runs HMP Salford rife with drugs, given £millions contract to run community sentences http://bbc.in/1I455MG
 The number of deaths linked to G4S employees, some with racial overtones, means this company must have a problem. When will it be held to account?: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/22/g4s-convictions-deaths-employees-racial-overtones
 Serco chairman to leave troubled government contractor: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30078116