Blog Archives

The political/corporate door continues to revolve


The Financial Times reports that James O’Shaughnessy, David Cameron’s former director of policy and a key figure in drafting the last Conservative manifesto, has been hired by Portland, a lobbying company, to take up a newly created post of “chief policy adviser”in order to provide insights into Tory thinking to corporate clients.  

Mr O’Shaughnessy  has a closer and more recent relationship with the PM than Tim Collins, former MP and Tory head of communications and now managing director of Bell Pottinger Public Affairs, who was secretly recorded claiming to have access to Mr Cameron and George Osborne. 

Portland’s clients include Google, Apple, McDonald’s, Vodafone and BAE Systems. The company issued a statement saying that James O’Shaughnessy would “advise clients on the priorities of the coalition and in particular the Conservative party”.

 The role of lobbyists is of continued concern, not least because of questions about the role of Adam Werrity as an adviser to his friend Liam Fox, the former defence secretary and the boasts of Tim Collins. 

Nick Clegg has said the government is pressing ahead with plans for a statutory register of lobbyists, adding: “There’s nothing wrong with lobbying in theory, as long as it’s done transparently in practice. That is what we’ll be seeking to do and pass through legislation as soon as we can.” 

Government delays acting on its own words as it bows to vested interests 

Mr Clegg’s statement means as much as the frequently repeated undertaking that government is pressing ahead with a supermarket adjudicator. 

Government should keep pre-election promise and install a supermarket adjudicator – with teeth – now

The promise to ensure that supermarkets deal fairly with food producers

11 years after the findings of the Competition Commission, under the current timetable, a full Bill is not due until after May 2012. The Adjudicator might not be in place until 2014 or 2015.  

Why?  The bill has cross-party support

As noted on an Indian website, large corporations and government are very close. The large supermarkets give donations to party funds and sponsor conference events.

They also offer lucrative full or part-time appointments to bolster the incomes of friendly MPs, Lords, civil servants and advisers, some of whom who pass forwards and backwards through the revolving door between government and corporate employment, taking with them their influence, contacts and inside information. 

They can afford the estimated low administration costs

Sainsbury’s follows rivals in price promotion

Tesco profits grow but UK sales subdued

Morrisons grows in ‘challenging conditions’

Wal-Mart sales up 

Panorama tonight: unfair dealings with customers as well as food producers revealed: The truth about supermarket ‘bargains’ 

Will supermarket adjudicator be ‘almost toothless’ and ‘unfit for purpose’?

Monday’s Farming Online updates the supermarket adjudicator issue: 

“In July, following an inquiry into the draft Bill which included evidence provided by the Efra committee, which held its own separate inquiry, the Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis) Committee published its findings.

NFU President Peter Kendall points out that Government has chosen to ignore the most significant recommendations of those MPs: 
  • rejecting proposals that the adjudicator should have access to evidence from a wide range of sources
  • remaining non-committal on using evidence from whistle blowers
  • dropping the proposal that the adjudicator should have powers to fine retailers who breach the groceries code 
Is this the result of powerful industry lobbying on behalf of the retailers? 

Peter Kendall has reacted strongly to the news commenting that it is “hard not to detect the dead hand of the retailers at play behind the government’s reticence to establish an effective regime to police the groceries code.” He added: 

“Frankly, at a time when retailers are engaging in another round of aggressive price cutting, it is more important than ever that we ensure they play fair with their suppliers, so that they can continue to invest and innovate for the benefit of both consumers and food producers. Sadly, as things stand the adjudicator will be badly hampered in its ability to do so, making it unfit for purpose.”  

Create a fair adjudicator

Kendall has called for the formal Bill to be brought forward to the current parliamentary session to expedite the creation of a fair adjudicator.  

Link to the article