Understandably, there has been much anger over the ‘cash for access’ scandal and the claims made by Peter Cruddas. The notion that someone could pay to bend the ear of politicians is alarming, but there’s an argument that this already happens.
The research by Full Fact into lobbying by way on banqueting, select committees and APPGs isn’t lobbying in the sense often used in the papers, in that very little of it was done by third parties on behalf of their clients. Nevertheless, many charities and companies provide funding for APPGs, or provide benefits such as tickets to sporting events.
When the claims made by Mr Cruddas became public, the debate immediately turned to party funding. Whilst this is a perfectly legitimate point, there was room for a much broader debate about access to politicians, which failed to materialise. Full Fact’s work on lobbying provides another chance for a debate that needs to take place. Simply ignoring the issue will only result in the same problems emerging.
Disclosure: I worked as an intern at Full Fact for two months, and during that time helped process some of the data for the lobbying research.