COSMETICS firm Lush became the victim of its own campaign when it pulled the plug on a very political endeavour for the sake of staff safety.

For those unfamiliar with the brand, which produces soaps, shampoos, lotions and all things pamperlicious, it’s recent #SpyCops campaign highlighting the scandal of undercover police officers tricking activists into relationships to gather intelligence, probably caused some bemusement. Those more familiar with Lush realised that the campaign was a ramping up of its reputation as a business with big ethical standards.

If the aim of the campaign was to raise awareness of the issue then it succeeded in spades. What it might not have been so keen on was the negativity of it, after a social media backlash involved accusations that the brand had embarked on an “anti-police” campaign. As the backlash escalated, there were claims that shop staff felt they had been intimidated by angry ex-police officers expressing their disdain.

What frustrated me about all the indignation, however, is how much it missed a bigger point. Only last week, this newspaper highlighted the scale of lobbying in the Scottish Parliament when new figures revealed that, in the first three months of this year, over 700 lobbying efforts had been registered.

If you’d been paying attention to the Lush furore, you’d be forgiven for thinking businesses had never tried to influence politics or public opinion before. The truth is that they’re doing it all the time, they’re just a lot less upfront about it than Lush.

The firm had consulted with women who’d been affected by the scandal before launching the campaign, and it was vigorously defended in an open letter by others who’d had dark experiences with UK policing. Campaigners who’d been involved in seeking justice for the victims of the Hillborough disaster where signatories, as well as Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell and Doreen Lawrence, the mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.

The letter stated: “Lush has used its facilities to help us as victims press for full disclosure and reform so that this never happens again. This is not an attack on police; it serves to help all those in the police service who wish to uphold the highest standards of policing. For this we thank Lush for its support.”

As details about the undercover policing scandal have emerged, we’ve heard how women were tricked into believing they were entering relationships with fellow political activists when they were in fact police officers. Some of these encounters became so serious that they resulted in children being born, and proposals of marriage.

Not only were politically active citizens spied on by authorities, they were manipulated in an absolutely torturous way. They are seeking justice and the truth, and Lush believes they are right to do so.

It’s commendable that, given the inevitable risk of backlash by getting involved with such a politically sensitive issue, Lush went ahead and did it anyway. At least I know where I am with the company. What concerns me more is the level of secretive lobbying conducted by big business which isn’t concerned with the welfare of citizens, it is only concerned with the welfare of profits.

However, given the scale of negativity towards Lush and the concern for the knock-on effects for staff, the brand has now taken a step back. Regardless, it raised the profile of the hardworking campaigners trying to get to the truth and ensure that no other citizen is put through such a harmful experience again.

Just remember, while Lush and its campaign fades into the background of the media buzz, there are hundreds, thousands of business interests lobbying politicians quietly, without much probing or interest. It’s not Lush you want to worry about, it’s them.


Respect is due to 17-year-old Emmerdale actress Isobel Steele for not only winning the best young actor award at the British Soap Awards, but for showing up those who indulge in the showbiz culture of treating women like bits of meat.

After wearing a full-length, long sleeved dress to the award ceremony, a segment in The Sun newspaper later opined that she was “young and gorgeous” and should “have some fun and flash a bit of flesh”. It added: “As pretty as it is, you look like you are wearing your mum’s frock!”

So it’s good news, sisters. If you’re young and gorgeous you’re duty bound to show your flesh to the world, and if you’re an old mum type it’s better that society isn’t exposed to you anymore. Either way, what a fabulous message to send out about women.

Well done, Isobel, for having not a care in the world. The only thing we should be commenting on is her talent, not how much of her flesh we can see.