Public to join political lobbying debate in Manchester

A public meeting on how links between corporate lobbying and politics can be made more transparent is to be held in Manchester on 15 June

Greater Manchester MPs Michael Meacher (Labour) and John Leech (Liberal Democrats) will join the Open Up Lobbying debate along with campaigners and members of the public, who will have the chance to ask questions and add their views.

The event is hosted by Greater Manchester for Greater Democracy, which said the aim is to inform the public and keep the debate on the political agenda following the government’s consultation held earlier this year. The results of the consultation are yet to be announced, however it could lead to on the introduction of a public lobbying register that would provide an open record of lobbying activity.

The debate will attempt to address issues such as what forms of lobbying should be covered by the new rules, how detailed the register information should be and who should maintain the register.

As well as MPs, speakers will include Tamasin Cave, director of independent public relations monitoring organisation Spinwatch and Peter Facey, director of Unlock Democracy, a UK-wide campaign group that has been calling for democracy, rights and freedoms since 2007.

Facey said: “Lobbying is a critical issue. After years of seeing scandals surrounding Westminster and lobbyists, both the public and government agree that something needs to change. I hope people will come to this meeting to discover more about what can be done about it.”

Lobbying scandals have been regularly hitting the headlines in recent times. The ‘cash for access’ scandal led to the resignation of Conservative Party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas in March 2012 after he was secretly filmed offering party donors access to the prime minister, while revelations continue to emerge surrounding News Corporation’s lobbying activities in its attempt to buy BskyB.

The Open Up Lobbying meeting will take place at Friends’ Meeting House in Manchester on Friday 15 June at 7pm. The event is free to attend, although registration for places is required in advance.