Holyrood Exposed

holyroodTo coincide with the SNP conference this week, Spinwatch, Unlock Democracy and Electoral Reform Society Scotland have published Holyrood Exposed: A Guide to Lobbying in Scotland.

Holyrood Exposed takes you on a walking tour of Edinburgh’s influence industry: the commercial lobbying agencies; corporate in-house lobbying teams; industry bodies, think tanks, and management consultants.

Tamasin Cave of Spinwatch said:

“Westminster’s lobbyists are drooling at the opportunities Scottish politics presents. As a consequence, they are buying up anyone with an inside track to the SNP. The Scottish government must allow people to see exactly who it is talking to, not just the tiny proportion of the lobbying industry currently proposed. Their plans are a long way from the new politics Scotland was promised.”

Download ‘Holyrood Exposed: A Guide to Lobbying in Scotland’.

Comments (9)

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  1. Simon Findlay says:

    Where is the “Westminster’s lobbyists are drooling … Their plans are a long way from the new politics Scotland was promised.” quote from?

    It’s not in the document that you link to in the article. Usually with such a lengthy quote there is some attribution. Is it from Electoral Reform or Spinwatch? Is it from another source? Have you been lobbied to put this on your website by some shady organisation?

  2. Apologies Simon – its from Spinwatch – article updated

  3. Eddie says:

    I have read the article and tried to access the web site, but it says this site does not exist. Has the wrong web site been printed or is it being blocked

  4. Crabbit says:

    It’s a quickly produced report (e.g. “Whiskey”..) but not bad as far as it goes. It doesn’t some of the most effective sectoral lobbyists, such as the NFUS, and completely ignores the role of the public sector – a lot of lobbying whether in Holyrood, Westminster or Brussels are local authorities, public departments and agencies lobbying other parts of government.

    The SNP have not been in office long enough for nationalist politicians to see this as a career route, but there are now so many of them that it is inveitable some will seek post-parliament careers in this area.

    As for transparency, the simplest solution would be for politicians and senior civil servants to publish their work diaries. Who they met, where and the topics discussed.

    1. John Page says:

      Agreed, Crabbit………daylight is the best disinfectant
      John Page

  5. David McCann says:

    Lets hope they buy a pig in a poke then!!

  6. Hamish Kirk says:

    Carpetbaggers have been heading to Edinburgh for some time !

  7. tartanfever says:

    I’m surprised (and disappointed) there aren’t more comments on this.

    In 2010 David Cameron stated that lobbying will be the next big scandal, one of the most truthful sentiments he’s ever shared. He’s absolutely right.

    I first become interested in lobbying a few years ago. Watching Reporting Scotland one lunchtime, Jackie Bird told me that a new report from the ‘independent and respected’ group Reform Scotland accused the Scottish Government of being scared of competition in the health sector.

    Having worked for the BBC on a freelance basis for many years, I was aware that editorial policy says that think tanks should not be treated as independent and should be scrutinised editorially and any links to political parties or economic bias must be stated. (To this day, it is still rarely done)

    I looked up Reform Scotland’s website and after a little superficial digging (5 mins) I discovered that the founders had conservative party backgrounds, the policy documents to a fault were all of the neo-liberal economic school and the majority of their board were either or are still senior corporate executives.

    Looking at their ‘major donors’ page, I found listed the name of ‘Skanska’. Skanska, headquartered in Sweden but operating globally now, are one of the largest construction firms in the world. One of their specialities is the construction of hospitals and surgeries. How funny that a think tank would produce a report that would potentially favour their donors !

    I wrote about it at the time, posting messages on a few of the indy blogs. Within a month, Reform Scotland had withdrawn their donor page from the website.

    Although my story is predominantly about the worrying lack of editorial standards within BBC Scotland ( it took me 10 minutes to work out a clear definition of precisely who Reform Scotland are, their founding, political leanings etc, surely a journalist at BBC Scotland is capable of the same ?) it also clearly demonstrates that we cannot rely on the media for any kind of impartial door opening into the inner workings of political lobbying.

    There is an easy way to kill lobbying off once and for all. Radical and distasteful as it may seem, if political parties were funded from public money and could not accept any donations of, let’s say, below £50 from individuals only the problem would be dealt with.

    I would happily see £20m of public money being spent on keeping our parliament clean of ‘cash for access’ scandals than let the sleazy world of PR get embedded into political life.

    Finally just to show that business is truly business and cash knows no political allegiance, Kevin Pringle (ex-SNP chief strategist) and Chris Deerin (ultra unionist and Daily Mail columnist) both work for the same lobbying firm, Charlotte Street Partners. One guy provides the government contacts while the other provides the shoddy headlines in the press demanding more privatisation for their paying customers, usually large multi nationals.

    It is utterly essential that a full public register is kept of all meetings and discussions with PR and lobbying firms, even the US and Canada do this.

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