Since May 2015, the Scottish Government has been carrying out a consultation for proposals to introduce a register of lobbyists at the Holyrood Parliament.

This will help introduce greater transparency in the process of political lobbying, which at the moment, is conducted behind closed doors, but is it enough?

According to spinwatch who have recently released a document ‘Holyrood Exposed: A guide to lobbying in Scotland’ have stated;

The Scottish government has proposed introducing some transparency into lobbying, with a compulsory register of lobbyists, but their proposals don’t go far enough. They will only allow the public to see a fraction of the lobbying taking place in Scotland.

Spinwatch is a not-for-profit managed by volunteers and part-time freelancers which has the following statement core to their activities;

Spinwatch investigates the way that the public relations (PR) industry and corporate and government propaganda distort public debate and undermine democracy. The PR and lobbying industry in the UK is the second biggest in the world, worth £7.5 billion. As the go-to organisation for information on this field, we routinely track PR and lobbying firms and corporate front groups, exposing their spin and deception.

Spinwatch has led the campaign for greater transparency in lobbying in the UK since 2007, when we set up a coalition of trade unions and NGOs, called the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency (ALT), to campaign for a statutory register of lobbyists. ALT works to highlight the impact that commercial lobbying has on political decision making in the UK.

The director for spinwatch; Tamasin Cave stated;

A decent register of lobbyists – which would simply make public who is lobbying whom, about what, and how much they are spending in the process – is an essential feature of modern government, not a ‘nice to have’.

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.

The document produced by SpinWatch, in partnership with Unlock Democracy and the Electoral Reform Society is an interesting read, highlighting the firm of lobbyists operating within Edinburgh and Holyrood, as well as detailing some of the varied tactics they employ to influence politicians.

You can view and download the document at: http://static1.squarespace.com/static/56057a6fe4b0ba7911a449d6/t/561982a6e4b01839b1bbc5a3/1444512422921/Scottish_Lobbying_Guide.pdf

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