A Quiet Word: Lobbying, Crony Capitalism and Broken Politics in Britain

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When protesters pitched their tents at St Paul's Cathedral in October 2011, as they did in Wall Street and cities around the world, they demanded one thing: to be heard. The financial sector they oppose needs no such recourse to banner-waving in order to get the ear of government. It peddles its influence quietly, behind closed doors with friends and former colleagues in government, whom it looks after with fine dining, direct funding and promises of jobs in retirement. The corporate takeover of democracy is not a paranoid nightmare of conspiracy theorists - it affects us all at every level of our lives. The food we eat, the medicine we use, the wars fought in our name, the temperature of our planet, how we spend our money, and how our money is spent for us by those who control the public purse. Britain's influence industry is worth GBP2billion, employs upwards of 15,000 people and operates out of public sight. It is accountable to no one. The protestors - 'the 99 per cent' - reflect a society that increasingly feels it has little or no control over how our lives are shaped. The government has ceased to listen. To us, at least. They listen to the hidden persuaders of the influence industry. They listen to the one per cent.