Monday, March 05, 2007


I’ve unabashedly borrowed the following quotes from “The Times” newspaper, but these are important issues. The words below, interestingly all spoken in the last century, are from the mouths of the men who, in governmental terms, run or ran this country.
Tony Blair, as I write this, is still the Prime Minister. Gordon Brown, is Chancellor of the Exchequer, the second most important person in the Government – shortly to become the first, unless Charles Clark and Alan Milburn get their way. Jack Straw has been Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary, and is now leader of the House and Lord Privy Seal. Lord Irvine managed to blow £59,000 on wallpaper (£300/roll) to redecorate his apartment in the style he felt suited his position as the Lord Chancellor, the highest Law officer in the country. Peter Mandelson was that open, honest and straightforward man who plotted New Labour’s path to victory in the mid 90s.

Just read them, and compare what they said to what is going on around us today.

"Information is power and any Government’s attitude about sharing information with the people says a great deal about how it views power itself and how it views the relationship between itself and the people who elected it” Tony Blair, speech at Campaign for Freedom of Information Act Awards, March 25, 1996

“We need a Freedom of Information Act that ensures not only a presumption in favour of disclosure, but also that the public interest defence must be available where there is a question mark over the illegitimate disclosure of information by civil servants . . .” Gordon Brown, Charter 88 Sovereignty Lecture, March 9, 1992

“We want to break down the barriers that may make the individual see the State in terms of Kafka’s Castle”, Jack Straw Annual Consitutution Unit Lecture, October 27, 1999

“We promised to make Britain a world beacon by creating a model freedom of information regime . . . Government should adequately and actively take the lead in promoting openness. We should be ready to open our doors, our files, our databases, so that the British people know what is being said and done in their name.” Lord Irvine of Lairg, Speech to the Campaign for Freedom of Information Awards, April 28, 1998

“We remain fully committed to freedom of information, to promoting a radical change across Government in the way Government conduct business, and to a new relationship between Government and the citizens they serve.” Lord Williams of Mostyn, Attorney General 1999-2001, Lords’ debate, February 10, 1999

“The rock on which [partnership between people and Government] is founded is trust and without openness and transparency in our dealings with the British people there will be no trust.” Peter Mandelson, quoted in The Times, November 20, 1997

The Freedom of Information Act allows people, organisations, media, newspapers and anyone else who’s interested to ask questions aimed at understanding what our elected leaders are doing, and are spending taxpayer’s (just remember, that’s you and me) money on. The elegant words you see below seem very shallow and naïve when compared to the deviousness being shown by those in power who are attempting to restrict and curtail the embarrassing flow of incompetence and deviousness being shown up by the results of these queries.

You only have to look at the Cash for Honours episode. The Attorney General, who I thought was a man the main part of whose job was advising the Prime Minister and the Government about the legal ramifications of anything they was involved in, currently seems to be acting as a Hit Man for Mr Blair to keep him squeaky clean. He is now trying to ban our newspapers from reporting on any of the new developments which are currently live on the cash for Honours issue, and we find out over the weekend that, at his behest, he is now trying to ban any reporting even on the existence of the ban. Stalin would have been proud of him. What does that tell you about what’s going on?

If you didn’t think there was something rather unpleasant being swept under the carpet, well, I suggest you do now.

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