Work by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that the City spent £92.8 million lobbying government last year (2011). Collectively they had 800 full-time staff working on lobbying.
Vince Cable said that the banking sector was ‘disproportionately influential’. In contrast, the campaigns and charities that are trying in some way to counter some of this lobbying – let’s say, FairPensions, New Economics Foundation, Positive Money, UK Uncut, World Development Movement, FinanceWatch, and a few others – are completely outgunned financially and in terms of staff. Last year all of Positive Money’s work was done on just under £65,000, which means that for every pound that we spent, the City’s lobbyists spent £1430.
This is one of the reason why we (Positive Money) are focussing on raising wider awareness of the fundamental flaws in modern banking, rather than trying to influence politicians one-on-one. We’re trying to create enough understanding of the harm caused by our privatised debt-based monetary system that the pressure for change becomes too much for self-interested lobbyists to overrule. Without doubt, it’s going to take time and a lot of work, and if you’d like to support this work we always welcome regular and one-off donations. Around 50% of all our funding comes from individuals donating an average of £8.50 a month, with the rest coming from small charities and grants.
Back to the lobbyists – the Bureau of Investigative Journalism finds that lobbyists got:
- slashing UK corporation and overseas subsidiaries taxes following an intense lobbying campaign.
- blocking European legislation aimed at limiting commodity speculation through a strategy devised jointly in closed meetings between the FSA and finance industry bodies.
- constraining a nationwide not-for-profit pension scheme that had the potential to benefit millions of low-paid workers.
- killing government plans for a new corporate super-watchdog to police quoted companies.
The rest of their report is excellent, so I’ll simply copy and paste a few key points:
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]A total of 38 public affairs consultancies and public relations firms earn an estimated £15.8m from banks, insurers, hedge funds and private equity firms.
Some 124 Lords – equivalent to 16% of the House of Lords – have direct links with City firms.
Political donations by firms and individuals connected to the City contributed £6.11m in 2011 to the three main political parties, with 92.3% of this going to the Conservatives. Last year, the Bureau revealed donations to the Conservatives from the financial services sector reached 51.4% of its funding.[/quote]
Of course, Positive Money aren’t anti-banks per se, but we are opposed to banks that are socially-harmful, subsidised, unable to exist without public safety nets and rescue packages, with a monopoly on creating the nation’s money supply, and who then use that power to create money to blow up property bubbles and speculate on financial markets instead of investing in real businesses. (Banks like Coop and Triodos, along with credit unions, are excluded from this list).
Banking Vs Democracy: New Report from Positive Money
This new report finds a banking system that has more ‘spending power’ than the democratically elected government, no accountability to the people, and a massive concentration of power in the hands of a few individuals. It shows how politicians and policy makers are misinformed about the true contribution of the banking sector and also reveals the close relationship between the banking sector and its chief regulator, the FSA.