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Responsible business policy review for the Tories

Our Policy group has just published its interim report for  the Conservative Party in the UK 
on responsible business.  It’s available at:

http://www.conservatives.com/tile.do?def=campaigns.display.page&obj_id=133937

The Financial Times ran a piece on it today, at:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/4e77e60c-a506-11db-b0ef-0000779e2340.html

And Peter Davis from our Policy Group (Ethical Corporation’s political editor and co-director of the Ethical Corporation Institute (http://www.ethicalcorp.com/eci) was interviewed yesterday on the Today programme at 8.55am: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/listenagain/.

The review has been written by Peter Davis and myself, with inputs from other members of our group, such as David Grayson and Michael Hastings of KPMG. We are a non-partisan group and are seeking 3 months of consultations on what good government policy looks like on responsible business. Readers are invited to read the document and respond – so please go to:

http://www.conservatives.com/tile.do?def=campaigns.display.page&obj_id=133937

Toby Webb, Editor

3 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Some questions for you, Toby.
    Should journalists be so closely linked to the development of public policy?
    Are we going to get rigorous and objective analysis of the parties’ policies in the run-up to the election?
    Is this really a partisan group? Where is the ‘cross-party’ selection promised when the Policy Group was announced?
    How about a truly multi-stakeholder approach to CSR? (where are the NGOs?)
    Lastly, will you and Peter be getting a job with the new administration when the Tories get into government?
    A story for your very own Governance Watch if ever I saw one!

  2. Yes, some good points here from anonymous (care to say who you are?).

    My responses:

    1) Should journalists be so closely linked to the development of public policy?

    Interesting question. In practice, many already are via their work. Some (indeed most)might argue they should not be, and should comment on policy rather than write it. A couple of things to add:

    a) We did/do this as citizens rather than as journalists, and under our Ethical Corporation Institute moniker, if anything. While it does create governance issues internally at EC I agree, we are not writing opinionated UK government policy comparisions in the magazine or on the website ourseles while we are doing this.

    Peter Davis spends 85% of his time in academia and consulting, while I wear several hats (editor, publisher and head of the overall business). In time I plan to hand the editorial reins to someone else, when the time is right. One other reason that Peter and I do this is frustration at a lack of mature debate on CR, rather than any other desire for personal advancement. The work is unpaid and our days are full enough already! So not a full answer to your point I am sure, but that’s my view.

    2) Are we going to get rigorous and objective analysis of the parties’ policies in the run-up to the election?

    Presumably you mean in the magazine? Its not the policy groups job to do this so I assume in the magazine.
    While we are engaged in this group, the answer is no: we intend only to write ourselves in a factual way (news items) etc about UK party policy. Some other of our writers may write on it, but their work will be signed off by other EC editors.

    3) Is this really a partisan group? Where is the ‘cross-party’ selection promised when the Policy Group was announced?

    It is partisan in that I am not a member of any political party and that another member, Lord Hastings, is a cross bench peer. However you are right that other members of the group have a traditional affiliation with the Conservatives. Its not a perfect fit in that regard, but its the best we feel we can do right now and still get some useful work done.

    4) How about a truly multi-stakeholder approach to CSR? (where are the NGOs?)

    Our mid term report is simply meant to raise questions and raise topics for debate. NGOs will be fully consulted in the ‘meat’ of the project, which starts now. They are not represented on the working group its true. We will discuss that point since it is a good and important one.

    5) Lastly, will you and Peter be getting a job with the new administration when the Tories get into government?

    I would seriously doubt that! First of all politics is not my chosen profession, nor Peter’s, and we certainly are not involved in this with that in mind. There are many more qualified people than us to do that sort of thing.

    As for running it in Governance Watch – would not writing about ourselves be a further conflict of interest?

    Toby Webb, Editor

  3. Hi Toby, thanks for your reply. In the spirit of transparency I reveal myself to readers as Oliver Wagg, managing editor of Corporate Citizenship Briefing (Toby had guessed!). And just in case readers think this is just a slagging match between competitors, it’s not. I have in the past written for Ethical Corp and am a big fan.
    On your points:
    1) Surely the job of a journalist is to act as a dispassionate observer at all times. No matter how many hats you wear, you are editor of Ethical Corporation (and as such your readers would expect a throrough and objective analysis of what could be the next Government’s policy on corporate responsibility).
    You make some fair points, though -a bout the nature of journalists’ work and the fact that you are doing this under the auspices of the Ethical Corporation Institute (although I’m curious to know what this is, how it is governed and how it is independent from the rest of the organisation – maybe a diuscussion for another day!).
    On point 3), I’ve coincidentally just received an email from Jonathan Djanogly, shadow minister trade & industry, that says the working group was formed and report issued on a “non party political basis”. Well, given it’s membership, this is clearly not the case, but I concede it’s difficult for any political party to set up a completely neutral working group. Might it not be a good idea to include industry on the group too? And on (5) I’d be happy to write a piece for Governance Watch (as an objective observer of course!). Thanks for the chance to debate this.
    Keep up the excellent blog.

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