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Tuesday 13 September 2011

Being For The Benefit Of Mr Lobby

The Guardian’s George Monbiot has been looking at organisations that are generally classed as think tanks, most of these being of a conservative or free market persuasion. The results of his enquiries on funding have not been encouraging, but this is no surprise, given that one of those bodies is the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), which as Zelo Street regulars will know, is an Astroturf lobby group.

Several other organisations, including the IEA, Policy Exchange, the Adam Smith Institute, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the Christian Medical Fellowship, Nurses for Reform, and Right to Know – which backed Nadine Dorries’ amendment to the health bill – also declined to tell Monbiot who funded them. And as he says, those who pay for influence should be accountable for it.

The Great Guido backs the Guardian - for now

But, in a strange twist, Monbiot appears to have unusual allies in his move against the power of the lobbyists: explicitly agreeing is the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines, who styles himself Guido Fawkes, though his close pal Mark Wallace, former stalwart of the TPA, might not agree. Wal was seen drinking with Staines and his tame gofer Henry Cole at the Huffington Post UK launch party.

Also finding adversely upon “corporate crony capitalism” is the UK’s self-proclaimed biggest fan of former half-term Governor Sarah Palin: step forward James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole, who has copied out Palin’s recent attack on “influence peddling and corporate welfare”. Del Boy is clearly, on this occasion, on the same side as the man from the Guardian.

Del Boy speechless at his agreement with George

But then the thought enters that Del Boy might not have thought this one through properly. After all, every time the Global Warming Policy Foundation issues another of its dubiously argued reports, he’s there cheering them on. So when Del Boy asserts that “Sarah Palin totally gets it”, he’s managing not to see that the corporate crony machine is feeding his side too.

That’s the problem with principles: the higher they are, the more noise they make when they come crashing down around your ears. Delingpole’s idealism doesn’t survive a cursory scan of his post, and Staines’ brave stand won’t last beyond the second pint when he next drinks with the TPA and their supporters. Which he will very soon.

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