Thriller or filler? A Quiet Word: Lobbying, Crony Capitalism and Broken Politics in Britain

This book is an account of how lobbying affects our everyday lives by Tamasin Cave and Andy Rowell.

Published by Bodley Head

This book is well written and well researched. The two authors have a very good handle on how lobbying techniques are developed in certain markets (particularly the US) and sectors (particularly tobacco, alcohol and pharma), and then filtered down to become, if not best practice, then at least common practice across the board.

But ...

I have to take issue with the claim that lobbying is a £2bn industry. I've challenged anti-lobbying lobbyists, including Tamasin, to back up this fantasy figure, and they can't.

I also disagree with the assertion that the lobbying industry succeeded in getting the Transparency of Lobbying Act watered down. In fact, many lobbyists wanted tighter regulation.

And there is a major contradiction in that whereas the authors state at the end of the book that "there is no conspiracy", the blurb states the opposite: "The corporate takeover of democracy is no conspiracy theory - it's happening."

Finally, the authors say: "To get a definitive, warts-and-all guide to the practices of lobbyists would require one of them to write it." Well, my book (Lobbying: the Art of Political Persuasion) is in its second edition, with the third on its way.

So if you believe that global warming is going to drown or bake our kids, that big is inevitably bad, and the likes of Hugh Grant and co should be able to turn the media on and off like a tap, then buy this book. Even if you don't, buy it anyway, because like me you will learn things you didn't know and think about things you might not otherwise have considered.

Lionel Zetter, chair, PRCA Public Affairs Group

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