Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Politician speak with forked tongue

When Cameron and Clegg agreed to form a government together - aka 'grab the levers of power from a dead-heat situation' - they produced a document: "The Coalition - our programme for government", from the Foreward of which:
"So we will extend transparency to every area of public life."
I believe most people would accept that not all information should be made public, especially where the security of our nation is concerned; however I also believe that most people would agree that where changes to the constitution - and any possible fragmentation of the United Kingdom - are concerned then that information should be made available as it most definitely is an area of public life.

Two posts by Toque, here and here, have come to my attention. The first link deals with an FOI request in regard to the minutes of the Cabinet sub-committee on Devolution to Scotland, Wales and the Regions (DSWR), a request which was again blocked on the grounds that their release would undermine "Cabinet collective decision-making". The second link deals with a request, under FOI, for disclosure of all the minutes of the 2nd Joint Ministerial Committee meeting during which the Government’s White Paper on English Regional governance was discussed.

When anyone, politician, local councillor or bureaucrat is discussing any aspect which will have an effect on my life, then it is only right that I should be privy to that discussion  or at least have access to the minutes of said discussion - after all, whose life is it? On the basis that I have openly published on this blog - unfettered access to which the politicos have, my wish as to their fate come the revolution - should they not reciprocate when discussing how their decisions may affect my life?

I fail to see what "Collective Cabinet decision-making" on the subject of changes to our constitution can in any manner be classified as matters of national security.

Oh hang on, I forgot about this 'democratised dictatorship' thingy I bang on about incessantly.........!


Toque said...

The 'Cabinet collective decision-making" is a but of a ruse. The real reason they won't release these documents is because it would shed light on the wheeler dealing that went on over devolution.

Even today we have Joint Ministerial Committee meetings that are conducted with representatives for Scotland, Wales, Nothern Ireland and the UK, but with no one to speak for England, and no possibility that the English can ever find out whether their interests are being sold down the river by whoever is representing Britain (Blair/Prescott, Brown/Mandelson or Cameron/Clegg). Essentially these are classed as Cabinet meetings and therefore exempted from scrutiny.

It's just one reason why we need an First minister for England and an English parliament.

PeterCharles said...

As I expect you realise, I do not agree with Toque. As I see it our fundamental problem is simply too much government mixed with the insanity of politicians who believe that they if only everyone would do as they say, follow instructions and not interfere they can put everything to rights and make life wonderful for everyone.

You also have to remember the main tool in the politicians armoury is deceit. It takes many forms, deliberate lies are rare but hiding material facts, diverting the focus onto something else, using innuendo, answering a different question, using ad hominum attacks and so on are all as dishonest and even more deceitful than any overt lie. Obfuscation, manipulation, mutual back scratching, backstabbing and diversion are political hallmarks.

They don't want you to know what they do behind closed doors because in the first place they think no one outside of their circle neither understands what is needful nor have any right to dictate to them, secondly they don't want any 'dirty linen' exposed to public view, especially anything that suggests discord or weakness.

There can be no doubt that David Cameron truly believes Britain must be 'at the heart of Europe', yet he positions himself publicly as a Eurosceptic, offers a referendum on the Lisbon treaty in the full knowledge that, save a major catastrophe, the issue would be resolved one way or the other long before he has to make good on his promise and so on, all deceit of the highest order. It's what politicians do.

Toque said...

"As I expect you realise, I do not agree with Toque. As I see it our fundamental problem is simply too much government"

That might be a fair comment if I was suggesting an English parliament in addition to what we have now. But I'm not. I'd replace the Lords with a federal parliament with powers of scrutiny over the devolved legislatures and turn the Commons into a smaller English parliament. Obviously there would be no need for over 800 members of my new federal 'Lords'.

JoolsB said...

So I suppose based on this premise, the people of England won't be allowed to know what will be given away on their behalf when the time comes to bribe Scotland to stay in the 'Union'.

Agree with Toque, an English Parliament would mean less government, not more. All those Scottish, Welsh & NI MPs, whose main role nowadays to justify their existence is to sit & legislate on English only matters could be dispensed with for a start and 800 Lords is totally unecessary!

WitteringsfromWitney said...

T, PC, JB: Thanks to all three of you for your comments, each of which is in their own way correct. Isn't a discussion on our democracy so fascinating?

Personally, dependent on the situation of the UK breaking up or not, I can see the case for an English Parliament - however not until we leave the EU.

I am still of a mind in the belief that devolution of all matters internal to local authorities would strengthen local democracy and would also mean a smaller Parliament as they would only have such matters as defence foreign affairs, immigration to attend to. This would mean less time spent sitting and therefore less cost. In respect of the House of Lords, I would cut that in half too and am of a mind to revert that back to hereditary (at least those people had no political axe to grind). I would also make use of referenda both local and national to ensure that the people retook control of where and how their taxes were spent.