Editorial: AEEU must prove itself to be open

The AEEU, Britain’s third-largest union, is straying seriously ’off message’ this week with its deliberations over whether to table a motion at the forthcoming party conference that all non-APPC members should be banned from attending future conferences.

The AEEU, Britain’s third-largest union, is straying seriously ’off

message’ this week with its deliberations over whether to table a motion

at the forthcoming party conference that all non-APPC members should be

banned from attending future conferences.



The only advice that can be given to the union at this time is:

don’t.



To propose such a ban not only flies in the face of Labour’s own

rhetoric on the merits of working closely with the business community,

but more crucially, it also runs contra to the fundamental principles of

democracy.



In the media frenzy which surrounded the activities of Messrs. Draper

and Greer, the whole issue of right of access was misunderstood and

misrepresented.



Undoubtedly, the APPC code of conduct, along with the PRCA charter and

the proposed IPR accreditation of lobbyists, will provide a valuable

framework for building a more transparent lobbying and public affairs

industry and address the bodies’ long-term objective of statutory

regulation.



But the AEEU pandering to media paranoia over lobbyists only serves to

undermine the legitimate right of organisations to have access and input

to the policy-making process. No matter how desirable it may be that

lobbyists become members of, or at least adhere to the principles laid

down by the APPC, any move of this nature must be considered and

all-encompassing.



Democracy cannot operate on a closed-shop basis.



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