Burnham failed in tobacco stall bid
Sunday 22nd September 2013, 3:50PM BST.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham tried and failed to stop Labour accepting money from a tobacco giant for a stall at its party conference, a colleague revealed.
Diane Abbott, who as shadow public health minister has accused the Tories of being influenced by connections to the industry to drop plans to impose plain cigarette packaging, said Mr Burnham’s team was “not happy”.
She was asked at a fringe meeting about the decision to allow Philip Morris and the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance, a pressure group which opposes plans for plain packaging, to exhibit at the Brighton event.
“The health team, led by Andy Burnham, did make representations to the party about this and we were not able to get that changed,” she said.
“The health team is not happy about that.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband condemned the influence of the tobacco industry on the Government in his introduction to the annual report of the party’s National Executive Council (NEC), which was debated today at the conference.
“Britain’s children don’t have corporate lobbyists looking after their interests, like the big tobacco companies do,” he wrote, in an attack on Conservative elections adviser Lynton Crosby.
The Opposition has accused Prime Minister David Cameron of breaching the ministerial code over his links to the Australian lobbyist, whose lobbying firm is reported to have worked on behalf of Philip Morris,
Mr Miliband at the time accused Mr Cameron of “bringing big tobacco to the heart of Downing Street” after hiring Mr Crosby as an adviser shortly before shelving plans for standardised cigarette packages.
Mr Crosby denies having “any conversation or discussion” with Mr Cameron on the issue.
Labour said that allowing any particular organisation to exhibit at the conference in no way meant the party endorsed its views.
Accepting that concerns had been raised by the health team, a spokesman said: “Unlike David Cameron, the Labour Party has not U-turned on introducing plain cigarette packaging.
“Unlike David Cameron, we have not brought tobacco lobbyists like Lynton Crosby into the heart of Downing Street.
“The Labour Party exhibition includes stands from a wide range of charities, companies and organisations putting forward their points of view.
“This does not mean the Labour Party supports the view put forward by the exhibitor.”