Freesteel Blog » The Prime Minister’s war on Information

The Prime Minister’s war on Information

Friday, January 23rd, 2009 at 7:49 pm Written by:

The U-turn on MPs’ expenses is all over the blogosphere. The political mugging to keep them secret was being organized at the highest levels between the leaders of the two main parties. The event shows that in this democratic system even they can be over-ruled by less senior members of Parliament, which goes to show that they all do have direct and fundamental responsibility and influence — even when they pretend they don’t.

In this political system the top dogs, such as the Prime Minister, have got so many different things to cover and respond to and weild power over, that their cognition is always going to be shallow and prejudiced on any single issue. Widespread bad governance is therefore inevitable.

That and having the same dominant financial policy-maker (Gordon Brown) running the country for over a decade who has to pretend and act as though nothing of the current crisis has any relation to his years of ignorant and misguided deregulation policies. Such a core lie has the unfortunate effect of ruling out many of the affordable solutions, leaving only the of stupid ones that are consistent with the axiom that he has always been right.

Isn’t it funny how, when finance was booming, London had to be at the heart of it with its lax controls, bloated business activity, and the skewing of all parts of the national economy towards serving its needs? And now when all the miscalculations don’t add up and the game stopped working, the City of London is just a tiny insignificant snowflake buffeted around in a world-wide hurricaine.

Let’s take a look at Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s questions and put the key statements into context:

Carswell (Harwich): What are the Prime Minister’s official engagements for Wednesday 21 January?

Brown: In Afghanistan the people there have managed to kill another three men out of the thousands of foreigners in that country who have been waving their guns around and shooting at people for no reason for the last seven years.

Also, can I congratulate the new US President. We’ll try to suck up to him like we did to the last president when we provided him with the essential political cover and know-how to get his country deep into two ruinous wars. I’m sure he will thank us for our services.

Carswell: Why is the Prime Minister whipping his party to keep MPs’ expenses secret?

Brown: “I should tell the hon. Gentleman the real facts: our proposals are for more transparency than the Conservative party’s proposals were and for more transparency than is the case in most Parliaments in the world. That is why we will publish a revised Green Book with clear rules, and there will be enhanced audit by the National Audit Office. We will put the proposals to the House on a free vote. We thought we had agreement on the implications of the Freedom of Information Act as part of this wider package. Recently, the support that we believed we had from the main Opposition party was withdrawn. I believe that all-party support is important on this particular matter, on which we will continue to consult.”

Waltho: Will you commemorate Holocaust memorial day on 27 January?

Brown: I will commemorate Holocaust memorial day by holding a Parliamentary debate.

Cameron: I too agree we should only count the number of armed British government employees who get killed in Afghanistan, and never waste our breath mentioning the number of Afghanis they’ve massacred over the last seven years.

But what about the recession?

Brown: Every job lost and every redundancy is a matter of regret and sadness for us all… The one thing that President Obama did not say in his speech yesterday was, “Fellow Americans, let’s do nothing.”

Cameron: Obama will not be putting up national insurance contributions on people earning £19,000 or £20,000 because the country is so bust.

Brown: I’m not taking lessons from you. I’m taking them from the banks.

Cameron: The recession is getting worse.

Brown: The Mayor of London agrees with me.

Cameron: When it comes to these great infrastructure projects, who just put back the carrier programme? Who cancelled the widening of the motorways? It was this Government, because they have run out of money.

Brown: Every country understands that when the private sector and the markets fail, and particularly when banks fail, the Government have a duty to pay them compensation.

Cameron: The Prime Minister is the only person in the country who thinks he is doing a good job.

Brown: I am sorry that the Conservatives do not want to understand economics.

Cameron: If you want to ask us questions, have an election!

Brown: The right hon. Gentleman has not one idea about how to begin to sort the problem out.

MacKinlay: Were the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the Financial Services Authority or our security and intelligence services fast asleep, or were they part of a cover-up in relation to Lloyds TSB’s illegal handling of money from Iran to get round sanctions?

Brown: Our sanctions policy against Iran has been one of the toughest in the world.

Clegg: I also single out for special mention the predictable deaths of the trained British killers in Afghanistan, because that is what is expected of all serious party leaders.

The British economy is now standing at the edge of a cliff.

Brown: I shall just repeat what Richard Lambert, the head of the CBI, said.

Clegg: Full temporary nationalisation of our weakest banks without any further delay.

Brown: That is the problem that we are trying to deal with. The problem is the resumption of lending; that is still the problem that has to be dealt with, whatever the status of the banks.

Abbott: Will the Prime Minister agree with me that people all around the world will have been moved by the inauguration of President Obama?

Brown: The White House was built by slaves, and it is now occupied by the first black American President.

Garnier: In the very week when unemployment is heading to 2 million, and when our constituents and our constituency businesses are deeply concerned about their finances, the Prime Minister demands that his own Members of Parliament keep their expenses secret.

Brown: “The hon. and learned Gentleman misunderstands what we are doing and the transparency that we are providing in the expenses. I said earlier that the main Opposition party and the Government had discussions about the statutory instrument. The Opposition party gave the impression that it was supporting that statutory instrument but it has now withdrawn its support for it. It is right, then, to seek all-party agreement on that, and that is exactly what we are doing. Far from spending a great deal of time this week on the issues that he is talking about, I am spending my time dealing with the problems of the British economy, and that is what I will continue to do.”

Skinner: “Those Tory fat cats at the banks, represented by the Conservative party, cannot blame the trade unions this time for the almighty mess that this country is in. In another generation, they would have been described as the enemy within.”

Brown: It is a global banking crisis that must be dealt with by global co-operation.

Spink: Will the Prime Minister meet me and Age Concern so that we can look at ways of further helping pensioners on issues such as meeting their fuel costs and on savings interest?

Brown: The Sun said only a few days ago that there was only one MP who was more independent of the Conservative party Front-Bench positions than him, and that was the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe, now the shadow Business Secretary.

Ladyman: What does the Prime Minister going to do, besides the sanctions that he has already imposed, to neutralise that influence of Iran whose toxic influence is the cause of the massacre in Gaza?

Brown: The international community has to show great unity in isolating Iran, not only for the position that it takes on nuclear weapons but for its attitude to Israel.

Beith: Get EU funding for my constituency.

Brown: We have successfully lobbied for the European Investment Bank to double the support for cars that have green technology and manufacturing processes.

Campbell: Nationalize the banks.

Brown: President Obama and many countries around the world will be putting forward programmes for public investment in the future: public works programmes, investment in environmental technologies, investment in roads, transport, schools and hospitals.

Lait: The value of Railtrack was talked down by the previous Deputy Prime Minister so that the company could in effect be renationalised. Is that what the Prime Minister and the Chancellor are doing to our banks?

Brown: “No.”

Gilroy: I also believe that three British men with guns in Afghanistan have a far greater right to life than any of the people who actually live there on our battlefield.

Many in the banking sector who have covered things up and given bad advice have have got off scot-free.

Brown: “That is exactly the matter that is being discussed now internationally to agree common standards of disclosure, common standards of transparency, common standards of risk management by the banks and common standards of responsibility to be taken by board members. We will do better by getting an international agreement on these standards and I believe that that will feature in our discussions at the G20 summit on 2 April.”

Do all PMQs begin by mentioning dead British soldiers whenever possible in a way that makes it tactless to ask: “What the f*ck are they doing over there in the first place?”

From 17 December 2008:

Harriet Harman: I have been asked to reply. As the House will be aware, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is in Iraq today. He will make a statement to this House on his return.

I am sure that the whole House will wish to join me in sending our profound condolences to the family and friends of Lieutenant Aaron Lewis, of 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, who was killed in Afghanistan on Monday. To those who never shy away from danger and who never shirk from their duty, to the families who will be apart from our troops this Christmas and to those who have died in the service of their country, we owe an enormous debt of gratitude.

From 10 December 2008:

Gordon Brown: Before listing my engagements, I am sure that the whole House will wish to join me in sending our profound condolences to the family and friends of Lance Corporal David Wilson of the 9th Regiment Army Air Corps, who died in Iraq on Thursday. We owe him and all those who have lost their lives serving our country a deep debt of gratitude.

From 26 November 2008:

Gordon Brown: Before I list my engagements, I am sure that the whole House will join me in sending our profound condolences to the family and friends of Marine Alexander Lucas, who was tragically killed in Afghanistan on Monday. We owe him and all those who have lost their lives in conflict our grateful thanks for this service and for their sacrifice.

From 19 November 2008:

Gordon Brown: I would advise Conservative Members not to talk down the pound, and I advise them to take the advice of Lady Thatcher, who said that

“trying to help the speculators”

and talking sterling down was

“the most unBritish way.”—[ Hansard, 15 June 1989; Vol. 154, c. 1119.]

Quite what the hell Gordon Brown is doing memorizing Thatcher’s senile rantings from 20 years ago during an earlier fiscal disaster, let’s take a look:

Mr. Kinnock: Why cannot the Prime Minister simply answer yes to the question, “Is the Chancellor going to retain his job after the forthcoming reshuffle?”

The Prime Minister: I answer on precisely what the Chancellor said on Wednesday of last week in the economic debate. The Chancellor set out the Government’s position clearly and in some detail. he said : “Our overriding”

–I repeat “overriding”–

“objective is to bring inflation back down.”

We shall not be diverted from that course.

Mr. Kinnock: Is that “gladly, joyfully, generously, fully, fully, fully” a refusal to guarantee the future of the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

The Prime Minister: I repeat what I said last week. If the right hon. Gentleman would like a little longer lecture I will read out the entire speech.

Sir Peter Tapsell: While the Leader of the Opposition regards all this as a joke, is it not about time that we all began to take the sterling situation rather seriously and that the Leader of the Opposition ceased to try twice a week to talk sterling down?

The Prime Minister: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. The Leader of the Opposition is normally trying to help the speculators and talks sterling down in the most unBritish way.


Meanwhile, the Afghanistan war condolences carry on pretty routinely for most of the year, according to my random sampling. If I had the time I’d write a cross-referencing parser and compile a list of all such “Glorious Dead” who received condolences from self-serving politicians who have been allowed to dissociate themselves from direct responsibility. It is, of course, illegal to read out these same names beside the official national war memorial.

Speaking of this Afghan war, the central justification was: “they attacked us (more specifically, the United States) on 9/11″, and so we had to go over there, cluster-bomb and invade the hell out of them, arrest loads of guilty men “off the battlefield” for not wearing the correct clothes when shooting the invaders, and torture them in Guantanamo Bay until they told us about their future planned terrorist attacks. That’s the story, right?

But there is a counter-story, which is that the 9/11 operation was funded and staffed by Saudi Arabians, and that that county couldn’t be prosecuted because their government are friends with the Bush dynasty and they have all our oil. And Donald Rumsfeld wanted to go straight to Iraq, but couldn’t give any evidence that didn’t pass the laugh test, so he order the army into Afghanistan instead. Owing to the fact that there was no one to find there, we swept up a lot of random guys “from the battlefield”, framed them as guilty agents, and held them in Guantanamo Bay within reach of incriminating news footage but out of reach of any legal investigation that could even find out who they were. They were severely tortured (one third of the camp is on hunger strike and being force-fed) in the hope of getting some false confessions out of them (that’s what torture is for), because there’s no chance there’s going to be any other evidence against them to justify the fact that they need to be guilty.

Guantanamo Bay with its Afghanistan-sourced prisoners is the official repository of evidence for why young British men were sent half-way around the world to shoot at people in Afghanistan.

Last night I went to a public meeting given by two former prisoners and a former very young camp guard of Guantanamo Bay re-united following this traumatic boondoggle staged wholly and entirely for the purpose of starting a war in Afghanistan, which was the warm-up act to the invasion of Iraq.

The mainstream press, particular the US press, are wholly culpable for this crime. If they had had the capability of smelling a rat this big and stinky, having had any understanding of law and government and lies and the purpose of “due process”, this whole sorry show could have been closed down on its opening night.

Yesterday (22 January) the new US President signed the executive orders to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

The day before, the same US President signed a Presidential Executive Order to revoke Bush’s Executive Order of 1 November 2001 which was designed to conceal Ronald Reagan’s presidential records beyond the twelve year limit (which expired in 2001), whose contents would have been inconvenient because many members of the Bush administration were from the Reagan administration, and these records would have exposed their history as absolute liars and scoundrels and the last kind of people who should ever be allowed to hold office.

Barack Obama’s supposedly with-it White House internet team have, with their new site, managed to break all the links to the old President Bush White House website, which is pretty ignorant of them because now that Wikipedia article about Bush’s executive order can’t take me to his signing statement where I could have watched him smirk and make his pathetic excuses.

Also on the same day, the new US President issued a Presidential memorandum on the Freedom of Information Act instructing:

All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government. The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA.

We could do with a bit more of that attitude over here, with our sorry-ass, tired and wasteful political elite who seem only concerned about keeping the lid on all their serious lapses of judgment and comfortable greed to allow for anything that’s right.

The lid is officially off this mess in America. Wave after wave of scandal is going to come out. It’s a shame there’s so few investigative journalists left around to coordinate the facts. Our only hope will be structured computer databases and collaborative research tools like Wikipedia as the only means of assigning the piles of malfeasant acts onto the political actors themselves. The legal system seems unable to do it fast and efficiently enough to stop them.

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