The SNP have called on Prime Minister David Cameron to publish a full list of his adviser Lynton Crosby’s lobbying interests, after yet another public health policy was abandoned by the Westminster Government.
Following the Prime Minister’s refusal to say whether he has ever spoken to Mr Crosby on plain tobacco packaging, the SNP are also demanding to know whether he has ever spoken to him about minimum pricing.
The statement from Mr Cameron on ditching plans for minimum pricing in England follows last week’s announcement that Westminster was to abandon a commitment to introduce plain packaging in tobacco sales.
Media reports this week have suggested that Mr Crosby’s international lobbying outfit is linked to both the alcohol and tobacco industries and has campaigned against minimum pricing.
Tuesday’s Financial Times reported that “Mr Crosby’s Australian company has represented a drinks industry group involved in campaigning heavily against plans to introduce a minimum alcohol price there.”
The newspaper also reported that Mr Crosby’s international advisory firm, Crosby Textor, advises a range of clients including companies in tobacco, alcohol, property development and oil. The firm also has links to Iraq and carries out unpaid work for the Syrian opposition.
Commenting, Pete Wishart SNP MP said:
“Westminster’s decision to shelve plans for minimum pricing of alcohol and plain packaging has been greeted with horror both across the political spectrum and among health experts.
“The fact that Mr Cameron’s adviser reportedly has links to the tobacco industry and the alcohol industry is questionable to say the least,given that he is now ditching all of his commitments to improve public health.
“Mr Cameron needs to make clear – has he ever spoken to Mr Crosby about either plain tobacco packaging or minimum pricing? What exactly are Mr Crosby’s lobbying interests? And we know his company in Australia has lobbied against minimum pricing – has this ever been the case in the UK?
“Thankfully, one key difference between self-government in Scotland and Westminster government is that the Scottish Government is pressing ahead on both minimum pricing and plain packaging – we have the powers to do so, and the ambition to improve our country’s public health.
“Minimum pricing and plain tobacco packaging are coming to Scotland, regardless of what Westminster decides – and that will have a positive impact in preventing young people from starting to smoke and in re-balancing our country’s relationship with alcohol.
“It highlights the stark contrast between the good work of the Scottish Parliament – where even the Scottish Tories voted in favour of minimum pricing – a Parliament committed to improving public health and making Scotland a better place to live – and the Westminster system which is unable even to adopt the good ideas from north of the border and elsewhere, despite talking about them for years.”