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Mercer, Bilderberg, and the crisis of lobbying

June 1, 2013

     :: PRESS RELEASE ::


The Patrick Mercer scandal and the impending Bilderberg conference raise vital questions about the role of lobbying in politics. Back in 2010, while campaigning for office, David Cameron described lobbying as “the next big scandal waiting to happen.” And with politicians and big business set to mix, in private, at the 2013 Bilderberg conference in Watford, it is likely that Bilderberg will become the next big lobbying scandal.

Transparency and trust

Public trust in politicians has been shaken again by the Mercer lobbying scandal. So how can we restore this trust? “One way to create trust,” says EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes, “is by increasing transparency in government.” The more opaque and hidden away the operations of government, the less the public feel fairly and reasonably represented. And with senior British politicians set to attend the notoriously untransparent Bilderberg conference in Watford (June 6-9), it’s possible that Bilderberg itself will become the next big lobbying scandal.

To avoid Bilderberg turning into ‘Bildergate’, the politicians who attend must open up the proceedings to press and public scrutiny. As Neelie Kroes (who has attended the Bilderberg conference for the last 8 years and never spoken about it) says:

“Citizens will be more confident if they can verify that the people they have elected inform them about what they do and how they do it.”

Register of lobbyists

The Mercer scandal has put the question of transparency in lobbying squarely in the centre of political debate. As the Sun newspaper says:

The shock revelations about Mr Mercer have reignited calls for a mandatory register of lobbyists — people who are paid to influence Government decisions — to help clean up politics.

So how might such a register work? A few weeks ago, before the Mercer scandal broke, the Association of Professional Political Consultants said said: “any statutory lobbying register must be universal in terms of the lobbyists it covers”:

“Any new system of statutory lobbying registration will only work properly if the public has confidence in a system that provides transparency of all lobbying interactions, not just a select few.”

Bilderberg conference

Top of any universal register of lobbying organizations would be the Bilderberg Group. At their annual conference, politicians and senior policymakers are locked away, for three days, with corporate CEOs, bank bosses and billionaire venture capitalists. In absolute privacy, and with zero press oversight. The deepest, darkest corner of big business lobbying, and the ultimate challenge to the “radical transparency agenda” of the coalition government.

There is an urgent need for an increase in transparency and trust in politics. Shortly after becoming Prime Minister, David Cameron said: “In time, I want our government to be one of the most open and transparent in the world.” Surely, that time is now.