Politically Speaking: By Jon Trickett, MP for Hemsworth

I will continue to fight for controls on lobbying

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 12:30 pm
DAVID CAMERON: Lobbying inquiry to be held. Photo: Getty Images

It should go without saying that high office should not be used as a grubby route to great riches.

Yet, that is exactly what I said last week in parliament, in response to the lobbying scandal that goes all the way up to a former prime minister.

You may have noticed that David Cameron finds himself in hot water. And rightly so.

We have an extraordinary situation where in office Mr Cameron allegedly gave the company Greensill Capital exclusive access to ministers.

Founder Lex Greensill was so embedded at the heart of power it is alleged he issued business cards describing himself as a ‘Senior Advisor’ to Downing Street.

Since leaving office Mr Cameron has crossed the divide and become an adviser to Greensill Capital for a considerable sum of money, acquiring shares in the business.

In exchange, it appears Cameron lobbied ministers including chancellor Rishi Sunak on Greensill’s behalf.

The level of scandal that has been unravelled from this affair is staggering.

Nobody occupying high public office should be using personal contacts obtained in said office to secure special financial treatment for a company they have vested interests in.

The fact there were communications by a former prime minister with ministers about his private interests is an outrage.

But it should come as no surprise.

The actions of our former PM is just the latest example of the ruling class believing they are immune to rules that apply to the rest of us.

And don’t think this scandal starts and ends with David Cameron.

Lobbying practices are out of control, and have been since the Tories took office in 2010.

I have repeatedly spoken out about the scandal of lobbying in our country since then.

I proudly stood in 2019 on a Labour manifesto that pledged to introduce a lobbying register which would have made all government employees accountable for meetings with lobbyists.

That election came and went and since then, Boris Johnson’s government have shown no interest in tackling this issue.

It is clear that it would not be in their interests to do so.

And don’t be fooled by the Tories’ announcement of a government inquiry into the Cameron scandal. This is the latest platitude from a government that stops short of taking action to actually clean up politics. As I said in the House of Commons last week, I predict this ‘inquiry’ will be a whitewash.

Why else would Boris Johnson order his MPs to vote against a cross-party parliamentary select committee inquiry into this affair?

It was disappointing to see the Tories closing ranks to protect their own, voting 357 – 262 against a parliamentary inquiry into lobbying last week.

The fight to end the revolving door culture at the heart of government does not end here.

Parliamentary select committees have now launched their own inquiries.

More widely, as a member of parliament I will continue to campaign for controls on lobbying. And I will continue to call out those individuals who use loopholes in lobbying legislation to enhance their own private interests.

That is not what public service is about.