As noted here previously, The Spectator blog was quick off the mark to warn of the dangers for David Cameron in making such a big deal about lobbying in that speech. It noted that the Tories were vulnerable ‘not only from the number of candidates who were working for lobbying and PR firms but the social connections that link some of those at the top of the party with lobbyists’.
Cue influential Times columnist Rachel Sylvester writing that the Tories have ’28 prospective parliamentary candidates in winnable seats working as lobbying or PR consultants’.
And the Daily Mail diary column, Ephraim Hardcastle. It noted:
‘Tory leader David Cameron proposes a clampdown on political lobbying firms, calling them “the next big scandal waiting to happen”. Does he mean outfits like Huntsworth… Its chief executive is Lord Chadlington, aka Peter Gummer, 67, president of Cameron’s constituency party. He helped bankroll Dave’s leadership campaign.’
But that’s not the end of it. As Tamasin Cave points out on the Spinwatch blog, not all of the lobbying firms under the Huntsworth umbrella are the shining beacon of transparency that Dave has suddenly become so approving of:
‘The Huntsworth Group has a number of lobbying firms under its wing including Grayling, Citigate Dewe Rogerson and Quiller Consultants. The first two companies come clean about who they are being paid to lobby for – they declare their clients under the current system of self-regulation.
‘Quiller does not, in fact it seems to pride itself on keeping quiet: “We understand the importance of discretion, and of being able to give independent advice from a position of trust,” it says.’
And while we’re on the subject, I wonder what George Bridges, the man masterminding the Tory election campaign, thought of Dave’s nasty words about secretive lobbyists.
Because, until very recently, George worked at…. Quiller Consultants!