Freesteel Blog » Message from your Parliamentary representative: f*** off

Message from your Parliamentary representative: f*** off

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007 at 11:06 am Written by:

It’s taken just two years of the Freedom of Information Act for our politicians to decide they can’t take the heat, and they have connived to pass a Bill that totally exempts the Houses of Parliament and all correspondence between a Member of Parliament and any department of government from the public’s right to know. They have lied about the need to do this to protect the public’s privacy, and proven it was a lie by rejecting a change to the legislation which would have targeted just this issue.

As readers will know, I use this blog as my own personal archive of FOI requests such as this one, until a national one gets set up.

Because the measure is so unpopular, they have tried to evade responsibility with a minimum turn-out, and leaving most of the dirty work to an army of ministers. Still, there was a filibuster which needed to be over-turned. Some MPs came in to vote for closure — a termination of the filibuster — and we recorded it on our voting set. One of the MPs who voted for closure and then tactically absented himself from the vote that followed took exception to our implication that he supported the Bill, and has told us we’ve got it wrong.

For the record, here’s my reply.


There is a big difference between what is democratically justifiable and what stands for normal operating procedure in Parliament. There is also a genuine divide between the public interest and MPs’ perceived self-interest. This particular Bill, which has been supported by factually false claims, crosses the line so clearly that you folks have tried to do it in such a way that as few of you as possible will be held culpable.

As Simon Hughes MP put on record, no one who supported the Bill spoke in the debate, yet there were a hundred MPs including scores of Ministers waiting in the wings to force it through. The only tactic of opposition was to filibuster. You have put on record an expression of a “desire to proceed with the vote”, yet no desire to participate in the vote. This leads us to believe that your absence (not abstention) was not wholly innocent.

It is true that our analysis may be inconsistent and inaccurate with regards of those who for tactical reasons stayed away from the division. This represents the often conniving incompleteness of the data with which we are presented. Parliamentarians are such masters of evading accountability that it’s quite an achievement that we are able to point a finger at any one of them.

While we have absolutely no influence over how the Parliament conducts its business, we do reserve the right to say what we think it is doing on the basis of authoritative evidence, common sense, and past performance. If you disagree with our analysis you are free to log-on and improve the data, as any member of the public is. No MP or their assistant has ever taken up this opportunity to detail what the heck is going on, so we can presume that you prefer we know as little as possible while attempting to bully us for being novices when we form conclusions you don’t like.

Julian Todd.

I’ve also got round to making a new entry into the Publicwhip FAQ: What is a motion to sit in private?. There’s more information there than asked for.

Update: Apparently we have agreed to differ, which is a fancy way to say we don’t agree.

1 Comment

  • 1. martin replies at 13th June 2007, 6:18 pm :

    I found this blog while researching details of the Bristol BSF programme. I am intrigued by what is driving this crusade – apparently, you are convinced that the supplier is a) crooked as a corkscrew; b) determined to supply goods which are not fit for purpose (apparently because they will be Microsoft based and not linux, and c) that they are going to make a ton of money out of defrauding the public purse.

    I have no idea if they are crooks or not – what makes you beleive they are? The kit they supply will presumably be specified by the end customer, and if they want Microsoft, that’s what you get. And how do you know they will make all this illicit profit?

    I have no axe to grind at all, I’m simply interested in what motivated your crusade for information on this

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