Moan, moan, moan! Politicians

I had a right old rant on The Underground Edition this week. You can hear the entire programme by going to the Celtica website. This one’s about politicians. Don’t you just love ’em? Here it is.

Of all the dishonest, fraudulent, duplicitous, underhand, sneaky, sly, devious, untrustworthy life forms it’s possible to imagine, politicians come at the top of the slimy heap, don’t they? And what has prompted this most uncommon, totally out-of-the-ordinary outburst of really rather mild carping on my part? Well, our MPs, bless their lying, mendacious, disingenuous cotton socks, brought in a Freedom of Information Act. Great, you say. Let’s have more information about what the great and the good are up to. Let’s know what public bodies are getting up to, and what quangos and local authorities are getting up to, and what police forces and nongovernmental organisations are getting up to. And so it came to pass. You see, this 2000 Act, which amazingly – hmm, maybe not so amazingly – didn’t come into force till 2005, obliges public authorities to release information. That’s what it’s about. We pay them to do their job. We want to know that they’re doing it. Before I get to my point – and I will get there eventually – I’ll give you an idea how tardy many government departments have been. In 2006 alone, there were at least 749 times when these departments or other central government bodies gave themselves an extension of twenty working days – which they can do, apparently – to assess the public-interest factor when it comes to disclosing information. That means they took forty working days in all. Biding their time, or what? Yet the Information Commissioner’s guidelines clearly say these things should be dealt with in twenty working days. Only when public-interest considerations are particularly complicated should they grant themselves the extra twenty days. But they managed to do it 749 times. It fills you to the brim with confidence, doesn’t it, in those we pay handsomely to work for us? Don’t they just make you want to withhold your taxes? 

Then they talk of cost. About six hundred quid an enquiry. But now the government is talking about effectively cutting back on that by adding officials’ time into the calculation. But officials are already paid to be officials. That’s what they are. That’s what they signed up to do. They are handsomely compensated for being seen as sad old farts. It’s not only officials’ time, but ministers’ time, too, and the Campaign for Freedom of Information says ministers are only too willing to involve themselves when there’s favourable publicity to be had. I bet they are. I can’t pretend to understand the minute details of the entire workings of all of this – Sir Humphrey would have done so, no doubt – but it strikes me, and every sane person, as a huge dodge to get out of revealing embarrassing secrets. And by ‘sane person’ I include you, because you must be sane because you’re there listening to me. It stands to reason. Don’t argue. Now, this cost thing isn’t new. It’s been talked about since last year, but now – and this is where I reach my point – a Tory MP has introduced a Private Member’s Bill, which was discussed last Friday and fortunately scuppered by its opponents – that would have exempted MPs and peers from aspects of that Act – even revealing their expenses. We’re told by the Speaker of the House of Commons that Parliament will still publish these, even though it doesn’t have to, so let us be thankful for small mercies. This wally who’s introduced the Private Member’s Bill is afraid that letters written by constituents will get out. But there’s already legislation to protect those. We know what they want to do, don’t we? They want to keep their business interests and other nefarious activities a secret, that’s what they want to do. The fact that anyone could even so much as think of wanting to exempt our servants, those we elect, from an Act they brought in to give us freedom of information makes you want to rip your head off in utter frustration.  You know, politicians are a scheming, devious, calculating, manipulative, cunning lot of good-for-nothing reprobates and degenerates. There’s that old joke – it always bears a repeat. How do you know when a politician’s lying? You can see his lips moving.  

And you can’t imagine how good it feels to get that lot off my chest and once more put the world to rights.

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About Andrew John

Andrew John is a writer, editor and broadcaster with Celtica, providing, among other things, a weekly moan on a topic in the news. He spends much of his life moaning and criticising, and is crap company at parties. But just humour him. He's not a bad bloke, really.


Moan, moan, moan! Politicians — 2 Comments

  1. Doesn’t Andrew John talk a load of crap? We’d be lost without politicians. He’s always moaning about something. What a prat!