Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Lobbying and Consultations

Tobacco

The government has denied claims it has caved in to the tobacco industry after plans to introduce plain cigarette packaging in England were put on hold.

He [The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt – the scourge of Murdoch] said a public consultation on the issue, the details of which have been published on Friday, had shown that the debate was “highly polarised” with “strong views” about the effectiveness of the policy on both sides.
BBC News Website 12 July 2013 Government rejects Labour’s cigarette ‘U-turn’ claim

Drink

The government has shelved plans to introduce a minimum price for a unit of alcohol in England and Wales.

He [Minister Jeremy Browne] said 34% of those who responded backed a 45p minimum unit price – but 56% had disagreed: “We consulted on it and we heard what people say.”
BBC News Website 17 July 2013 Minimum alcohol pricing plan shelved

End of Life Care

The government has ordered hospitals to carry out immediate reviews of their practices and announced the Liverpool Care Pathway will be phased out.

The review, which took evidence from patients and health staff as well as reviewing literature, said a “deeply distressing” picture had emerged.BBC News Website 15 July 2013 End-of-life care to be overhauled

Who takes part in these consultations and reviews?  I suspect that in many cases it is “consultation by invitation”; manage the invites right and you get the answer you want with the “validation stamp” of “consultation shows …”

I have certainly seen “consultation with stakeholders” to be with “stakeholders” defined by the public body doing the consultation – it makes life easy.  Very rarely do we hear or see a public “call for input”; there used to be a government website called http://www.consultations.gov.uk but it seems to have disappeared. (You can see it used to exist on the wayback machine Internet Archive: http://www.consultations.gov.uk)

If consultations are not really “open”, the lobbyists will rule and the result of the consultation will depend on the power of the lobbyists and which lobbyists knew of the consultation.  This feels horribly like the American lobby system.

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