Re: Am I alone
By implication, Mr Young, you presume that your disabled non-tax payer would have some form of meaningful access to UK pols? Certainly disabled voters are most welcome for photo opportunities with MPs, but I'm not sure as individuals, even collectively, ordinary people whether disabled or not have any say in British politics, which is the thrust of the original article.
There is a much bigger problem here than Google. We haven't had Lobbygate, because the information isn't properly collected, collated and reported, but the reality is that individuals have little or no say in policy and law forming, excepting when the press report popular discontent that worries the pols. However, if you look at any consultation, or ongoing contact with pols, then you find that non-governmental organisations have incredible clout. And by NGO, I mean exactly that - an organisation, and one that isn't itself part of government, be it Greenpeace, Google, BAe, PWC, or trade associations like the British Bankers Association, SMMT et al.
To illustrate that this isn't a business thing alone, look at how some fairly well intentioned and broadly sensible planning reforms were derailed by the rural Nimbys of the National Trust and CPRE. I'm a member of NT, they didn't speak for me on that issue, but thy will certainly have claimed that they have 2.5 million members concerned about the issue. CPRE - very vocal, but I don't know a single individual who is a member. I doubt it necessary to provide any further corporate examples of pernicious lobbying.
One possible way to fix this with two steps:
First, major foreign companies should have to submit a public UK Affairs Annual Report, that consolidates the activities of their UK operations as though they were a UK listed company. Nice level playing field there, there's some additional costs, but all of the necessary information already exists, so all we're talking about is some staff time for aggregating the data and writing the verbiage. Maybe require that they be "plain text" in the manner of most US SEC reports, so that they don't become overly expensive, puffy marketing documents.
The second, and more significant change is that my mooted "UK Affairs" companies, all UK listed companies and all NGO's should have to have a section on "Lobbying and political interactions" in their respective reports, that has to be (by law, and with penalties) a list of all political interactions, including summary levels of contact, names of MP's, regulators, civil servants entertained, spoken to, invited to any kind of events, and including "proxy lobbying" as in Google's incitement of the Shoreditch roundabout event junkees, NGO's actively encouraging members to write to MP's etc. Admittedly that's more red tape, but it doesn't impact those who don't actively lobby, and those with the biggest lobbying activities (Google, BAe etc) are rightly not going to get much sympathy. There's a few details would need ironing out, but all of this is feasible and straightforward.
However, who reckons that this stands any chance of being enacted - will MP's give up free lunches with lobbyists, and dedicate themselves to working for the country?