Sunday, December 28, 2008

"Front" lobbying organizations - SOS and the Countryside Alliance

Companies setting up "independent" lobbying organizations might be on the increase, I think. When it was proposed to limit displays of cigarettes in shops, a group called Save Our Shops lobbied MPs (source here):

Over the summer, MPs were inundated with postcards bearing the Save Our Shop campaign logo, urging them not to back the government's proposals, outlined last week by the Department of Health. The cards stated: 'As my local MP, I hope you will protect our independent local shops by opposing this proposal.'

More than 100 MPs signed an early-day motion in Parliament agreeing with the proposal that any plan to sell cigarettes under the counter should be firmly 'evidenced-based', a key message pushed by the Save Our Shop campaign.

But it has now emerged many MPs were unaware the campaign was the brainchild of the Tobacco Retailers' Association (TRA), an offshoot of the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association, which represents the interests of three tobacco companies: BAT, Gallaher and Imperial Tobacco.


Incidentally, SOS were clearly not well organized because very mixed messages were coming from shop keepers. Some insisted the move would have no effect on kids etc. buying fags, so why hide the fags? Pointless Nanny-State-ism. But others said it would severely damage trade - and threaten shops. So it would severely damage trade by...er.. not having any effect on sales. Hmm.

Another dubious lobbying organization is the Countryside Alliance, which presents itself as defending the interests of those living in the countryside, but seems to do little other than fight to protect fox hunting, which, ironically, polls indicate a majority of those living in the countryside want banned. The website says:

The Countryside Alliance works for everyone who loves the countryside and the rural way of life. Our vision is of a vital, working and thriving countryside for the benefit of the whole nation.

Here we have not a company, but wealthy people who, after a hard week in the boardroom, like to relax by chasing down and disembowelling small animals, putting up and funding a lobbying organization which presents itself as one thing (fights to protect the countryside) but is really another (lobbies to protect their nasty hobby).

I don't see the Countryside Alliance fighting for more rural public transport, or defending local post offices, or anything else that might really have an impact on the quality of life of those living in the countryside. Because the truth is most of the big contributors to the CA really don't give a fuck about ordinary people living in the countryside.

Interestingly, wiki notes that: According to disclosures in the UK Data Protection Register, the CA carries out research on the backgrounds of those it considers to be its opponents.

This might get me on their list.

Info (which seems reliable, though the source is partisan) on who funds and controls the CA here

Background information on the ban of hunting with dogs here.(The Independent).

Anyone aware of other examples of such "front" lobbying organizations?

5 comments:

John said...

What about groups funded by the government or EU to lobby the government or EU - self licking lollipops so to speak?

Anonymous said...

Let's go close to the edge...CORE (Comment on Reproductive Ethics) sounds like an independent think-tank from looking at its name. In reality it's a hard-line pro-life organization. (Cathlolic-style, not sure if that's written into its constitution though).

Ophelia Benson said...

The US is crawling with them. There's the 'Tobacco Institute' for instance - which sounds like a think tank but isn't. There's an equivalent for the sugar industry, whose name escapes me. There's probably one or more for every industry in the US.

Chris Gale said...

The odious CA is partner in a convention called 'The Convention on Modern Liberty'. What utter garbage that somehow their fetish for torturing sentient creatures for kicks should be a 'civil liberties/human rights' issue!!!
Myself and colleagues who oppose bloodsports have posted about it on the website of this convention.. see
http://www.modernliberty.net/2008/tuc-and-countryside-alliance

Kasen said...

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