Expenses Freedom of Information : Villains and Heroes

We know who the villains of this charade have been; the Speaker, the backbenchers of the parliamentary Labour and Conservative Parties.  Gordon Brown has nothing to be proud of, he constantly failed to push reform forward because he could not carry his backbenchers.  The YouTube debacle was his last minute desperate attempt to be seen as a reformer.  Disastrous.

Stuart BellThe shameful Members Estimate Committee, particularly Sir Stuart Bell, has done everything in its power to frustrate meaningful reform.  Clegg’s LibDems have been better, though they have their embarrassments too (yes, Guido means you Lord Rennard).  Cameron too has bitten the bullet even though he must know there are going to be a heck of a lot of revelations about his party.  The Conservative Chief Whip Patrick McLoughlin’s role has been very suspect and it is fair to say that Cameron’s stated position and the behaviour of his Chief Whip have often appeared incompatible.

Heather BrookeSo much for the villains, who are the heroes in this affair?  One heroine stands out.  Heather Brooke fought for years to get the details of MPs use of the public’s money into the public domain.  She fought the parliamentary authorities long and hard in the courts.  The deviousness of the parliamentary establishment can’t be overstated.  This is her victory.

She was aided and abetted by the press, particularly some of the tabloids, freedom of information campaigners, pressure groups like the Taxpayers’ Alliance and last but not least, bloggers. There is one more hero who should not be forgotten, the person who has blown a digital whistle on this whole charade.  It does not matter if the whistleblower has done it partly for money.  Mercenaries can sometimes fight heroically for freedom.




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Quote of the Day

The FT’s Wolfgang Munchau on the “fake maths” of economic forecasts:

“The truth is that our ability to forecast the future beyond the current quarter is limited… The curse of our time is fake maths. Think of it as fake news for numerically literate intellectuals: it is the abuse of statistics and economic models to peddle one’s own political prejudice… The fakeness of the maths lies in an exaggerated inference. Economic models have their uses, as do opinion polls. They provide information to policymakers and markets. But nobody can see through the fog of the future.”

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