"Taxpayer-funded lobbying and propaganda on the rates weakens our democracy" are words ascribed to Pickles in his department's press release (that wouldn't be propaganda though; surely that's public relations).
Lobbying always sounds bad, especially when one publicly-funded body is lobbying another part of government in support of its own interests. Who can argue against a reduction in taxpayer-funded lobbying and propaganda?
The language is archaic though. Lobbying implies something covert and undemocratic; propaganda always suggests evil intent, though there can be 'white propaganda'; public relations is at least capable of being open and accountable. The rates – for anyone reading this younger than me – was a discredited system of local government taxation that was replaced by the current Council Tax (after the controversial interlude of the so-called Poll Tax).
But while I've no argument with the politics of this move, here's an objection at a more philosophical level.
If you have one monolithic government (let's view this as a communist model for argument's sake), then clearly it's nonsense to have one branch lobbying another. It wouldn't happen in China, would it?
But if your philosophy is in favour of small government and the redistribution of powers to localities and communities (surely the thinking behind the Big Society), then you are in favour of diversity of provision and plurality of expression. This means there will be more organisations competing for funding and attention: community groups, activists, not-for-profit organisations and local government all using public relations techniques (up to and including lobbying and propaganda) to support their causes and to defend their licences to operate.
It sounds popular to attack government waste including the spending on PR – but the way I see it the Big Society and the devolution of powers to communities will result in more PR, not less.