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Spin Watch

Spinwatch investigates the way that the public relations (PR) industry and corporate and government propaganda distort public debate and undermine democracy.

Founded in 2005, Public Interest Investigations (PII) carries out cutting-edge research into key social, political, environmental and health issues in the UK and Europe.

Our work is underpinned by two key projects – this site, Spinwatch.org and a research wiki Powerbase.info, which focuses on the networks of powerful individuals and institutions shaping the public agenda.

Spinwatch investigates the way that the public relations (PR) industry and corporate and government propaganda distort public debate and undermine democracy. The PR and lobbying industry in the UK is the second biggest in the world, worth £7.5 billion. As the go-to organisation for information on this field, we routinely track PR and lobbying firms and corporate front groups, exposing their spin and deception.

Issues we work on

Our core concern is in promoting equality and protecting fundamental human and democratic rights. Currently, we concentrate our work in several policy fields, including:

  • environment and health issues, principally climate, fracking, nuclear, and health service reform
  • democratic accountability and governance in relation to lobbying transparency, ethics, privileged access, conflicts of interest, and the revolving door. Areas covered include the alcohol and food industry, think tanks and the financial services lobby
  • race, ethnicity and human rights including work on Islamophobia.

Campaigning for lobbying transparency in the UK and Europe

Spinwatch has led the campaign for greater transparency in lobbying in the UK since 2007, when we set up a coalition of trade unions and NGOs, called the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency (ALT), to campaign for a statutory register of lobbyists. ALT works to highlight the impact that commercial lobbying has on political decision making in the UK. ALT members include:

  • Spinwatch
  • Unlock Democracy
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Action Aid
  • National Union of Journalists

We are also part of the campaign for lobbying transparency in Brussels run by The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU), a coalition of about 200 civil society groups, trade unions, academics and public affairs firms. ALT is concerned about the increasing influence exerted by corporate lobbyists on the political agenda in Europe, the resulting loss of democracy in EU decision-making and the postponement, weakening, or blockage even, of urgently needed progress on social, environmental and consumer-protection reforms.

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