Sunday, 2 October 2011

Inappropriate influence at the Labour Conference?

The Telegraph reports that the Shadow Labour Secretary (and one of his team) took the huff because representatives of tobacco companies were invited to a business forum at the Labour Party Conference, and refused to turn up.

It's hard not to agree with the Labour Party leadership that the tobacco industry has received no favours from them. Politicians must take every precaution against being unduly influenced by corporations but the mere presence of industry representatives at conference events is no evidence of undue influence. The Shadow Health Secretary's gesture is petulant – it may reflect advice given in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control by attempting to marginalise any tobacco industry presence in policy circles, but we should not attempt to exclude interested parties completely from the policy-making process.

It seems that another MP appeared to go on the run from a tobacco-sponsored fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference but her non-appearance turned out to result from a misunderstanding about the arrangements. She did, however, express disquiet about the TMA sponsorship of the event, which came to her notice late.

Anyone would think that the tobacco companies were the only monstrous manifestations of capitalism that were accountable only to their shareholders and cared nothing for the welfare of consumers or the environment. It's actually refreshing to see the New Statesman's partnership with the TMA for this fringe meeting, since their relationship with Pfizer (clearly a rival to tobacco manufacturers in the market for nicotine) is entrenched.

But who's idea was the fringe meeting? I've no idea – but it does look like the Labour Party needs support to be renewed from all sectors. Perhaps it went begging?

1 comment:

Bill Gibson said...

It is also worth mentioning the continuing support for Tobacco Shares and the profits gained by the Pension Funds of the politicians, Maybe Kerry needs to be reminded of this from time to time .....