See if this story alarms you as much it does us:
– Last year the Government announced plans to make it illegal for cigarettes to be sold in branded packaging, after substantial evidence shows it will prevent cancer deaths;
– Months later the Prime Minister hires Lynton Crosby as his chief strategist, a man paid handsomely to lobby for firms including a major international tobacco company;
– Last week: The Government suddenly drops its standardised packaging plans – a move that Cancer charities say will cost lives.
Labour is tabling amendments to the Lobbying Bill after the Government published proposals that will only apply to a tiny proportion of the lobbying industry.
Earlier this afternoon, Ed Miliband wrote to the Cabinet Secretary over Lynton Crosby.
Extracts from his letter below – full letter here.
‘During the period that Mr Crosby was advising the Prime Minister, including on the Queen’s Speech, we now know that his company had Philip Morris International, a major tobacco company, as a client.
This is a clear case of a conflict of interest. You will be aware that the Ministerial Code has a clear line on conflicts of interest:
7.12 Ministers should take care to ensure that they do not become associated with non-public organisations whose objectives may in any degree conflict with Government policy and thus give rise to a conflict of interest.
Had Mr Crosby been a Government employee there would have been very strict rules to prevent that conflict taking place.
Because he is formally an employee of the Conservative Party, while clearly advising on government business and regularly visiting Downing Street, we have been left with what is in effect a back door breach of the Ministerial Code.
This potential conflict of interest appears now to have been accepted by the Health Secretary, who on BBC 2’s Newsnight last night said that public health was an area Lynton Crosby never advised the Prime Minister on “because his company has clients in that area”.
This conflict is not limited to tobacco. We do not know who else Lynton Crosby is paid to represent, because he has not revealed his clients.
But it has been reported that he has represented the oil and gas industry, who have a direct interest in the UK’s energy policy; and for the drinks industry, who have a direct interest in UK’s policy on minimum alcohol pricing (Financial Times, 16 July 2013) – another area on which the Government has recently changed its position.”
David Cameron has today revealed that he is not up to the challenge of restoring trust in our politics.
With questions raging over the influence of Lynton Crosby in David Cameron’s regime we need real action to clean up the lobbying at the heart of Downing Street. Instead we’ve a Prime Minister who has revealed how he continually stands up for the wrong people, trying to dodge questions over Lynton Crosby and bringing forward totally inadequate proposals which will only apply to a tiny proportion of the lobbying industry.
If David Cameron won’t clean up politics, Labour will. We would introduce a statutory register of lobbyists, a code of conduct backed by sanctions and measures to ensure that anyone doing a senior job for the government of the day who is a professional lobbyist must be declared.
If you agree that the Prime Minister has questions to answer, sign our petition demanding an inquiry into Lynton Crosby’s business interests. It takes one click to add your name.
We need to hold this Government to account and find out whether health policy in this country is being set by the Prime Minister’s tobacco-lobbyist-in-chief.
Sign our petition calling for an inquiry in one click now.