Greetings Today magazine, giving you the bigger picture

Cash for influence row

Greetings industry targeted by controversial pay-to-publish Parliamentary Review


PUBLISHERS and greetings retailers have been targeted by The Parliamentary Review trying to persuade them to part with £3,500 each to be featured in their controversial publications.

With hours of one publisher posting privately on Facebook that they had been contacted, five others and a number of independent retailers had responded saying they had also received invitations worded such that it appears to be connected to the Government.
The publisher, who doesn’t want to be named, called the contact only to discover they were expected to pay the large fee to provide their own 1,000-word report about “the challenges you have faced, how you have responded to them and your hopes for the future”.
Posting the letter on Facebook as a warning to others, the publisher said: “This company is using parliamentary contacts to look like a great opportunity but the whole thing stinks – and at a cost of £3,500 it’s not illegal but using influence to pull in vast amounts of cash.
“Despite being ‘one of only 10-15 companies selected’ it turns out failing school heads and hospitals have also paid into this company. We won’t be taking part. This type of thing needs calling out.
“All the people quoted are involved. The phone call was basically a boys’ club namedropping session.”
And they added they expect there would be an additional charge of around £500 per head to attend the annual gala mentioned with guest speakers, who have previously included Tony Blair and Jonny Wilkinson.
Among the responses were other medium-sized greetings publishers with one saying they had considered giving them a call “because how do small businesses get a voice”, and another added: “I had one too and called them up thinking it was the Government, but it’s Members of Parliament and the Lords using their status for all the wrong reasons.”
The Review is a series of independent publications set up in 2012 by then 23-year-old graduate Daniel Yossman, with the aim of “sharing best practice among policy makers and business leaders” – but only if the firms involved are prepared to pay for the privilege and, with a significant number of each report going to the contributing businesses, the distribution, reach and effect of the papers is unknown.
Boasting on their website that they are “contributed to by leading politicians”, the owners claim: “Each of its editions focuses on a key governmental policy area, with a variety of organisations sharing personal insight alongside cabinet ministers, government agencies, associations and trade bodies.”
And the letter (pictured), signed by chairman and former Conservative Communities Secretary Lord Pickles with co-chairman Lord Blunkett, the ex-Labour Home Secretary, mentioned too, contains a number of typos and grammatical errors.
Although the invitation does state: “Despite having forewords from senior cabinet figures, the Review is fiercely independent”, there is no reference to its pay-to-publish nature or that for-profit owners Westminster Publications are completely unaffiliated with Parliament or the UK Government.
And the publication has been criticised in the national press for the charges of up to £4,000, with accusations of misleading headteachers of English schools into thinking they were being singled out for commendation for their good work only to be expected to stump up thousands to be included.

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