24 February 2009

Freedom of information

With Jack Straw finally ending any thought that I might vote Labour at the next election, maybe it's time to think about some of the inconsistencies of this govt. As Charlie Brooker tweeted it:
So: *we* can scarcely take a shit without 100 CCTV cameras recording our arsehole's every splutter, while *they*...

The Freedom of Information Act is basically a good intention, but how it works is ridiculous. I suspect the majority of enquiries are born of mischief or boredom, rather than any sense of injustice. I suppose the difficulty is that enquirers don't have to demonstrate or even claim any particular reason for wanting to know the information requested. So I could write to Cornwall County Council asking for details of how many councillors claimed lunch allowances in 2008 and how often, just for fun (no, really, it is some people's idea of fun). And the Council would have to do the research and give me an answer. It's a massive waste of everyone's time. But when it really matters, when the govt might be revealed to have been a coalition of the criminal, the cowardly and the careerist, of course it falls apart.

Meanwhile, the govt goes ahead with plans to retain every email sent or received, because anyone might turn out to be a terrorist. It makes taking a photo of a copper a potential criminal offence, totally ignoring any question of mens rea, instead saying that it can be a defence to have a "reasonable excuse" for taking the picture. A total reversal of the presumption of innocence.

And of course id cards, cameras every where, dna database. "Well if you've nothing to hide, why worry?" they say. I think Jack Straw's just invalidated that argument.

I'm actually prouder every day that I didn't vote Labour last time. My MP, Jim Dowd, made my decision very easy by being a total lickspittle, with no apparent capacity for independent thought. Who else to vote for, though? I'm angry that the Labour party has basically disenfranchised me.

And actually, even without the disclosure of the cabinet discussion, we now know, better than ever, that it is indeed a coalition of the criminal, the cowardly and the careerist.


On my edge sun said...

In case it’s any consolation, if you think choosing between English political parties is bad or those in charge have some crazy political ideas, have a go at trying to choose from the political candidates in Northern Ireland :-S

Keith said...

Today the Lib Dems issued civil liberties proposals which include abolishing the veto in the FOI Act that allows ministers to keep information secret and to regulate CCTV to protect privacy. And of course to keep opposing ID cards.

So who to vote for? There's your answer.

Brian said...

Hello, Mr Nevols, I've been expecting you! You're right and if my Libdem candidate has a chance, I'll consider him/her. Trouble is, in London Libdems are often Tories in disguise. But the Libdems recently won a council by-election in Lewisham, and one of the new Councillors is Duwayne Brooks - the friend who was with Stephen Lawrence on the night he was murdered.

On my edge sun - I'm sure you're right and don't envy you.