There are no free lunches. No free limos. No free champagne parties with attractive young ladies hanging on your every word. No free fact-finding holidays. No free secretarial services.
Somebody is always paying. And mostly they're doing it because they want something from you.
Our politicos and senior bureaucrats are surrounded by such temptation. And the lobbying industry has developed ever more sophisticated techniques for buying influence. It's no longer simply a matter of stuffing fivers into envelopes: this £10m pa (plus) industry now has 50 firms working round the clock devising whole new dimensions of sleaziness for the delectation of our rulers (see this Spinwatch post).
You can't blame the lobbyists: conditional love is the nature of the beast.
But you can most certainly blame our politicos and bureaucrats. From peerages to lobbying, they have an unflagging ability to persuade themselves they're not being bought. Vanity, bubble-life, and plain boneheadedness all play a part: learning from experience doesn't.
This morning, the Times reports one small countermeasure. As you will recall, they investigated the 300 all-party groups of MPs who have no formal status but who act as insider lobby-groups for worthy entities like the beer and pharma industries (see this blog). Many of these groups have been getting all kinds of unpaid help from lobby companies, often funded by anonymous backers.
Now, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards has "called on all lobbyists to reveal their client lists and urged MPs to act with caution when dealing with those who did not".
It's not exactly the public flogging we peasants would like to see. But it's a step in the right general direction.