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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lobbying for influence

Being in government has many benefits but I am not so sure that the increased attention of lobbyists is one of them. It is little wonder therefore that Tory party activists are complaining at the way that these particular professionals are dominating events at their conference.

The Guardian reports that senior Conservatives fear that members are being put off by the vast numbers of political consultants and pressure groups at fringe events and stalls. They say that lobbyists have paid more than £10,000 to hire permanent venues at this year's conference in Birmingham where their clients are able to mix with ministers, special advisers and other influential figures.

They add that meetings with lobbyists have to be declared by ministers or special advisers if organised through official channels in Whitehall, but meetings at party political conferences do not. Marquees are believed to cost more than £20,000 to hire for the conference whilst Tory accounts show that the party made more than £1.42m from conferences last year, four times the 2007 figure.

The paper say that the Liberal Democrat conference has also become much more lucrative since the party achieved power, making £570,000 last year. Labour does not publish figures, but insiders said the cost of hiring out stalls had been nearly halved since the party lost the last election.

It is getting that the whole point of some conferences is to make money for the political party concerned. That is not healthy. At least the Liberal Democrats still debate and vote on policy at their conferences.
Could be worse, Plaid Cymru more tha doubled the price it charges for 'Executive Observers' this year (£250 for two days).

They also charge for access to the leader by holding 'Premier Fringes'.

Doesn't really reflect their level of influence.
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