•There has been a rather bizarre development in the ancient craft of lobbying, an expression first born into American politics over 100 years ago at the Washington Willard Hotel. Congressmen and senators who foregathered there were pounced on by industry and commercial professional representatives. An amendment here, a tweak there; where there is legislation there is a pecuniary interest for someone.
Politics and big business have been hand in glove in the United States since the Civil War. The craft now is rife in the European Union. There are said to be 10,000 lobbyists in Brussels at some time in the year. I can believe it. I am a much lobbied man myself on issues that committees on which I sit - on economic and monetary affairs, environment and gender equality - may have influence.
The major economic problem this produces, of course, is that small businesses cannot afford well-paid lobbyists. Yet small businesses and indeed what might be termed micro businesses make up more than 90 per cent of the wealth-creating sector. Meanwhile - it is the big banks, food chains and insurance companies who have the artillery.
Employment legislation - indeed regulation - of all types cannot be absorbed by small businesses as easily as their larger competitors. Maternity and paternity leave can spell disaster for a four man business in the provinces, whereas a supermarket chain – for example - will have big enough stores to adjust rosters and carry on. The growth of political donations in Europe now follows the traditional 'monster' role of US companies.
What though is the bizarre turn of events? Fascinatingly, political lobbyists are now paid by government to lobby themselves. Government energy policy is a prime example. The United Kingdom and other European governments now make substantial donations to 'charities' of all types. This brings erstwhile radical green charities, for instance, into the institutions of governments.
The administration feels the 'green vote' is valuable, so it avoids the hostility of the environmental lobbyists by way of generous donations. The EU and domestic governments can appear to bend to the expert pressure from the green lobby when, in point of fact, what is really happening is they have bought the endorsement of their product like any soap-powder salesman.
There are also scores of charities whose almost total funding comes from government. They are, of course, quangos and you might be interested to see the salaries and pension arrangements of their executives. The British give significantly more per capita to charity than most other industrialised countries. There is a distinct moral hazard in taking tax from citizens and giving it to charities of politicians' choice.
Nauseatingly, politicians look smug about their humanitarian gestures as though the money was their own. Overseas aid is out of the same stable. Even prestigious historical organisations sell their soul to the devil in this way. Of course, it is not only money in the UK. The honours system does wonders for charity heads to toe the line. Money always corrupts. Political money is even more rancid in its corruption, as it undermines institutions as well as individuals.
Some 30 or 40 years ago, this scam would have been exposed by a prime-time current affairs television programme or a leading quality newspaper - but such is the relationship now between politicians and the traditional guardians of the people that only the blogs can give you the truth. We are, though, a generation away from the electorate getting their information from blogs. It is still the 'telly' for now. The scam, therefore, continues.
Godfrey Bloom is a United Kingdom Independence Party MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire