If you have ever written to your MP, you are lobbying. You are attempting to influence the decisions of politicians.

In theory, lobbying is central to our idea of democracy. We petition. Government listens.

In practice, lobbying – in the context of the UK's £2bn commercial influence industry – corrupts our democracy. Corporations and wealthy individuals are spending billions of pounds on lobbying to bend governments to their will. They petition to shape policy in their interests; to delay or water down laws that threaten profits; and to secure government contracts worth billions of pounds.

It all goes on behind closed doors, and the public interest doesn't get a look in.