All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) at the UK Houses of Parliament are formed by MPs and Peers with an interest in a particular country or subject. Here’s the current list. In general, the groups lobby for or about the thing which is on their name and some receive funding, usually to cover administration and some events, from those interests who stand to benefit from the group. The rules are clear and transparency is key.
The BBC has been covering the schlock around APPGs and lobbying today along the lines of; “this sort of thing can’t be right, can it?” Well, I’ve not heard it report yet that there is a BBC All Party Group, funded by, erm The BBC. And guess who it lobbies on behalf of? There’s also a Channel 4 Group. There’s an ITV Group. There’s a Media Group, too, funded by, well, the media (Guardian, ITV, Channel 4, BBC, etc). The Telegraph itself, which had been making the running on this story, has yet to report that it also funds the Media APPG. Jesus, even OFCOM does. What’s more, all these organisations employ in-house political lobbyists and pay lobbying consultants. They do all this because they have a legitimate interest in the legislation and whatnot which affects them and understand that in many ways lobbying IS politics.
If people break the crystal-clear rules around all party groups or lobbying then they should be punished accordingly, obviously. And they are. But I wish the media would be a bit more honest about what lobbying actually is and why they engage so aggressively in it themselves.
Oh, and while I’m at it, here’s Peter Facey of Unlock Democracy saying that the government should; “crack down on the links between all party groups and commercial interests “. Really, just the commercial ones? Cool, and leave the army of lobbyists like Peter, paid by non-profit organisations (many of whom of course have for-profit interets sitting right behind them), free to crack on as normal? What’s the moral difference between commercial and non-commercial interests, for goodness sake? No, the quote from Peter Facey about lobbying is itself a nakedly self-interested bit of lobbying. Hilarious.
Enough bollocks on lobbying, already. Please.