I’ve received half a dozen letters letters from constituents asking why I didn’t vote on Tuesday for Tim Yeo MP’s amendment on energy decarbonisation. I say ‘quite a few’, but it’s really just the one, written by an unidentified lobbyist.
This is how the most aggressive lobbying works. I don’t mind at all – constituents are entitled to write and get a reply; that’s my job. And if I were, say, a manufacturer of windpower technology, I’d be right behind the message put out by this lobbyist through my constituents. But doesn’t it show what nonsense Andrew Rawnsley was talking this week when he wrote; “those who can afford to buy (lobbying) are mainly large corporations or foreign governments”.
The anonymous lobbyist here is using the same technique as Friends of the Earth. That’s fine; it’s perfectly fair and decent politics – except for the anonymous bit, maybe. But it’s certainly expensive.
The idea of separating lobbying from politics is a daft media construct. Every single piece of legislation is informed by people making their arguments for what’s best then the government making decisions informed by its own ideology and commonsense. From an MP’s point of view, what matters is that everything is transparent and done according to the rules.
The letter I’ve posted above is an attempt to lobby for a particular ‘green’ policy which itself reflects a world-view. Voluntary (often themselves corporate, rich and powerful) and commercial organisations alike suport that view. In the other corner, other organisations disagree with it and they lobby their case too.
So, a register for little ‘PR’ companies but not for Tesco, Google, Friends of the Earth or the RSPCA? What kind of sense does that make? In reality, it’s just something for more lobbyists and some members of the media to lobby for before touting their own ‘policy success’ – whether it actually makes any difference or even sense.
For what it’s worth, I was present in parliament during the vote but abstained. I did this because I disagreed with Tim Yeo’s amendment but didn’t want to vote against Labour.
The six constituents who sent me the letter reflect a local view. The hundreds who write to me about electricity prices reflect a much bigger one. My view is that some ‘green’ lobbying organisations couldn’t care less about the price of electricity nor less-well-off folk and until I hear realistic arguments from them, which don’t involve asking me to also vote against gas, nukes, oil, shale, clean coal and most other energy sources, then I won’t be changing my tune anytime soon.