With the fallout from Bell Pottinger’s very own PR nightmare drifting towards Number 10 earlier this afternoon, the prime minister’s official spokesman raised more than a few eyebrows when he broke ranks to claim that no lobbying firm has influenced the government:
“It simply isn’t true to say that Bell Pottinger or any other lobbying company has influenced Government policy”
As the PR and lobbying industry is worth some £7.5bn annually, one wonders what on earth corporations are paying for if it isn’t influence over decision making in Whitehall. The astonishing claim from the PM’s spokesman simply doesn’t stack up:
- Lobbyists outnumbered party members six to one at this year’s Conservative Party conference
- Lord Taylor of Blackburn bragged that he was paid to work “behind the scenes” to amend legislation on behalf of credit rating agency Experian.
- Former cabinet minister Stephen Byers described himself as a “cab for hire” during an undercover sting in which Dispatches posed as a lobbying firm to lure a number of senior Labour figures into lobbying roles.
- Osborne’s decision to defer an increase in fuel duty came after an e-petition co-sponsored by a campaign group founded by transport industry groups such as the Freight Transport Association and run by a lobbying and PR firm.
Desperately backpedaling away from a statutory register of lobbyists, it seems Number 10 is now in complete denial of reality.