Events, dear boy, events, can make so much difference to the best planned campaigns. The last thing Mr Brown wanted was media coverage of the claims of former Cabinet Ministers about how they could lobby, influence policy or appointments, all for a mere £3000 to £5000 a day. That, however, is what he has got.
The government machine moved smoothly to limit the damage. Miss Harman assured the Commons that no currently serving Minister or official had done anything wrong. Former Ministers had not succeeded in influencing policy for private gain. We could relax. All was well. The issue was left unanswered as to why at least one former Minister suggested they could or had, and what if anything should be done about that.
The short term damage is to Labour, but Parliament as a whole will once again suffer. I have always thought the best way to lobby to change policy or to pursue an interest is through the cosnttiuency MP in the way the system is intended to operate. A company or individual that wants its case heard by government can ask the local MP to represent them, to arrange a meeting for them or to ensure written representations are considered by the Minister. The service is free, and the MP will decide whether to back his constituent with his own voice as well or just ensure a hearing for their case. What’s more, it’s a free service to the constituent.