Two of Britain’s largest lobbying firms have launched bids to help big business exploit the European Citizens’ Initiative – a new programme that was meant to involve ordinary people in European Union law-making, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has reported, (10/04/12).

A leaked memo shows that Thatcherite PR/Propaganda consultancy Bell Pottinger, the subject of an undercover investigation published by the Independent (UK) and the Bureau  of Investigative Journalism in December last year, has offered to help potential clients set up petitions demanding changes to EU law under the new programme, whose rules specifically bar organisations from doing so.

And information posted on the website of its fellow lobbyist Fleishman-Hillard shows it too is offering to help businesses hijack the initiative, which came into force on 1 April.

“They are trying to muscle in. We have done everything we can to try to put safeguards in place to discourage that from happening,” said an aide to Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission’s vice-president, who is responsible for setting up the initiative.

The revelations will put more pressure on David Cameron to take action over lobbying firms based in Britain. In February 2010, he made a speech warning that lobbying in Westminster was “an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money”.

the interpretOr would like to add that this is no isolated occurrence :

In Australia, propagandists such as the IPA (Institute of Public Affairs) are able to offer tax deductions to their corporate donors without having to make the relationship public. IPA talking heads appear on a regular basis across  broadcast media, including the ABC. In addition, they succeed in filling the op-ed pages of newspapers and online platforms.

IPA: Independent? Nope. In the public interest? Hardly.