A Lobbyists’ Spring?

It has been a tough week for democrats.

In Europe, the European Parliament rejected a simple measure to help support the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).

In the US, the Senate rejected a simple measure to make gun ownership a little bit more difficult.

It is hard to understand either vote – both proposals made sense by every logical measure.  They also attracted support from a broad cross-section of the public and mainstream politicians who recognised small but essential steps towards a cleaner environment and a safer society respectively.

Yet these decisions to vote down these measures on either side of the Atlantic do have something in common.

In both cases the interests of powerful lobbying groups overthrew the interests of the majority of the electorate.

In Europe, MEPs were sufficiently nobbled by BusinessEurope.

In the US, Senators bent to the will of the National Rifle Association.

In a Western society that has grown increasingly sceptical of the values and integrity  of politicians, these decisions will inflict further damage to their reputations.   lobbyists_xlarge

More importantly ground has been lost in crucial fights for the environment and gun-control.  When measures are brought to the floors of the European Parliament and the Senate it is the end of months of careful planning, consultation and preparation. This victory for vested interests means that investment of time has been wasted.  It will make the likelihood of that effort being repeated extremely remote.

After all the hope and excitement of new democracies over the past few years, it seems the best we can expect for the ‘old school’ in Europe and the US is a Lobbyists’ Spring.


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