Thursday, 1 August 2013

Questions over lobbying at the heart of David Cameron’s Government

Before the election, David Cameron used to say that lobbying was “the next big scandal waiting to happen” and promised to clean it up so politics wasn’t open to undue influence. But far from doing so, we’ve this week seen increasing questions about the role of a tobacco lobbyist right at the heart of Downing Street. In recent times David Cameron has appointed a new strategist to help him win the next election. And the man he has chosen for the job, Lynton Crosby, is himself a lobbyist, a man who we now discover has worked for tobacco companies. And we heard this week that the Government has now dropped their plan to introduce standardised packaging for cigarettes – despite the Government’s own Public Health Minister previously saying she was persuaded of the case for it.

Smoking remains by far the largest preventable cause of cancer and we need to do all we can to protect people, especially our children, from taking it up. Serious questions need to be asked about the role and influence of this man Lynton Crosby, a tobacco lobbyist brought in to the heart of the Prime Minister’s operation. We need openness and answers but the Prime Minister has repeatedly refused to answer questions about his role and influence.

People are now wondering why David Cameron can’t answer a straightforward question: if he’s never had a conversation about cigarette packaging with his lobbyist employee, why won’t he say so?