On 12 April 2012, we held a public meeting in Sheffield on “Open up Lobbying” which 60 people attended, to discuss and comment on the lobbying proposals. Speakers were Tamasin Cave of Spinwatch, Councillor Joe Otten, and Paul Blomfield MP. Based on that debate and other discussions between our supporters Sheffield for Democracy made a submission to the consultation on proposals for a statutory register of lobbyists, which closed last Friday.
Our report touches upon various issues related to lobbying in, including this bit regarding current political culture:
The unsatisfactory nature of the current situation, on access to influence and power, is well known and acknowledged, including by the Prime Minister, famously quoted as saying: “It is the next big scandal waiting to happen.” All three main political parties have been embarrassed at some point in the last three years by the action of some of their MPs and Lords.
The culture of lack of trust in our politicians encourages a belief that sleaze is inevitable, that ordinary voters have little if any influence, so that that voting cannot make a difference, with fewer people then bothering to vote, especially amongst those who are most needy and vulnerable. This is what politicians are hearing on the doorstep. One worry is about the disengagement of part of the population; another is the demand for extreme forms of direct democracy.
Not that all our politicians are tainted by poor practices; the majority are not, but suffer the same public disapproval which is damaging. Our media often assume this.
You can read more by downloading our Consultation Submission here (PDF, 376KB).