...a blog by Richard Flowers

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Day 2329: Freedom From Freedom Redux!


Day TWO in the job and Mr Frown is RAPIDLY developing a reputation as the GREAT PRETENDER! PRETENDING to be in favour of something in public while PULLING SECRET STRINGS behind our backs to make sure that they are blocked, undermined and STOMPED ON!

Challenged by Sir Mr the Merciless to put a stop to the SINISTER Conservatory moves to UNDERMINE Freedom, Mr Frown has REFUSED, saying… no, I'm wrong, HAVING A SPOKESPERSON SAY FOR HIM(!):

"If MPs have voted this measure through then that is a matter for them."

Are you not an MP then, Mr Frown? Has power gone to your head so VERY quickly?!

First it was the leadership election!

Public Pretender Mr Frown: "Oh, I… uhh… would be perfectly happy… uhh… to face a contest."

SECRET STALIN Mr Frown: "Trevor, I want that… uhh… backbencher… uhh… eliminated!"

Now it is the Freedom of Information Act!

Public Pretender Mr Frown: "I want to see… uhh… more openness and… uhh… restore trust to… uhh… our democracy."

SECRET STALIN Mr Frown: "Okay, let's… uhh… round up the boys and… uhh… put a stop to all this… uhh… 'freedom' nonsense!"

The Bill was proposed by Conservatory backbencher Mr David Maclean’s-Toothpaste. His THIN VENEER of an excuse for hanging this monstrous bill around the neck of Parliament was the idea that somehow the Freedom of Information Act might be used to obtain an MP’s confidential correspondence. And not just his EXPENSES BILL.

And yet time and again Liberal Democrat superhero Mr Norman the Baker, with the help of interventions from Mr Power Cable and several other Liberal Democrats, demonstrated that such a risk does not exist! Not only are there EXTENSIVE exemptions in the ALREADY week and watery Act itself, but further protection is provided by the Data Protection Act from 1998. And if that isn’t enough for you, then you can have the belt and braces of the Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) (Elected Representatives) Order 2002.

The CRUX of Mr Toothpaste’s argument was that even with all these protections, some ignorant official might “inadvertently, by accident or design” release some confidence to the public.

Mr the Baker and Mr Hugs and many others pointed out how LUDICROUS this was! If they might release it BY MISTAKE today, how is passing ANOTHER bit of legislation going to stop them doing it BY MISTAKE tomorrow? Add to this the observation of Mr David Heath that IF this is such a problem, WHY have no cases been referred to the Information Commissioner?

Which reminds me, apparently Mr Frown’s chief scarecrow, Mr Man O’Straw had to apologise to the Information Commissioner in the House for, er, slightly fibbing about him having caused this whole problem by ALLOWING such a letter to be released under Freedom of Information. No such thing has ever happened!

And speaking of things that never happen: apparently the story that the Labour were putting around went like this: suppose that an MP in Scotland gets a letter from a constituent; they write to the local council that is (shocked mittens) no longer controlled by the Labour! Then someone on the council tips off a Scots Nasty MSP! Then the MSP uses Freedom of Information legislation to get hold of the original letter so that they can reply to the constituent before the Labour MP can!

Quite WHY anyone would engage in such a POTTY conspiracy ESCAPES ME – but besides, SCOTTISH MSPs have their OWN Freedom of Information Act and it is much better than the one the rest of us are lumbered with!

This was also the point of Ms Jo Swinson who pointed out how completely BONKERS it will be for her correspondence with Scottish public bodies will be covered by Freedom of Information, but writing to – say – the Department of Worthless Pensions (Whitehall Branch) will be exempt.

It is a recipe for CHAOS! In the muddle MORE things are likely to get released “inadvertently, by accident or design”!

Mr Toothpaste himself only spoke the once, and only took interventions from his friends, pointedly turning down Liberal Democrats but taking every opportunity to cast aspersions.

This exchange…

Ms Jo Swinson: “Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr David Toothpaste: “No, the hon. Lady has been HARPING ON a little too much this morning.

…is merely one of the more EGREGIOUS!

He finally goes completely into one:

Mr David Toothpaste: “The Liberal Democrats clearly intend to talk at length today. I intend to sit down in a moment and give them more opportunity to justify their position. If the whole Liberal Democrat party is opposed to this Bill, as its new leader is, it is a little late in the day making its opposition known…

Oh well why even BOTHER having Parliament DEBATE things? Having slyly slipped it under the radar with a bit of a nod-and-a-wink from the government whips, did he REALLY just expect his Bill to go through on the nod?

You would almost think that no one else was AGAINST this nasty little measure, the way he was ignoring the fact that he was ALSO facing senior opposition from HIS OWN party and from the Labour too. He was clearly on a CRUSADE against Liberalism!

If you do not believe that he had an ULTERIOR MOTIVE, ask yourself the question that MP for VULCAN Mr John Deadwood asked: if Mr Toothpaste was concerned about maintaining the privacy of MPs’ correspondence… why then did he vote AGAINST the amendment that would have limited the scope of his bill to MPs’ correspondence?

The government spent much of the day and several of their speeches in the House protesting that they remained NEUTRAL. I have poured SCORN on the logic of this position before, but the MOST PERTINENT question came from Liberal Democrat Mr David Howarth MP - daddy and I heard it on the PM programme: I think it was a clip from the debate…

"If the government is as they claim neutral, why is it that the majority of members voting in the Aye lobby were government ministers, government whips or opposition whips?!"

Yes, that's right: OPPOSITION WHIPS too. Mr Balloon has been quick to renew his traditional UNHOLY ALLIANCE with the Labour and seal his NEW FRIENDSHIP with Mr Frown… with a SECRET KISS, no doubt!!!

But it is CLEAR where the REAL BLAME for this lies!

A total of seventy-eight Labour MPs supported the Conservatories' bill today. Seventy-eight! When Mr Toothpaste cold only gather EIGHTEEN of his own Conservatories to support his bill! SEVENTY-EIGHT! Including our own MP, the SHAMEFUL Mr Jim Fitzpatrick, aka ROBOT JIM! We were hardly surprised to see Mr Stephen "I'll Do Anything for a Pound" Pound in the Aye lobby, but the MP that daddy Alex stood against in Leyton and Wanstead, Mr Harry Cohen SHOULD KNOW BETTER! SEVENTY-BLEEPING-EIGHT! That is ONE in FIVE of the PLP – almost enough to nominate TWO DWEEBS to be Deputy Stalin!

Voting against the bill and FOR FREEDOM where nine Liberal Democrats, nine from the Labour, five Conservatories, Mr Hywel of the Welsh Nasty Party and Mr Gorgeous Pussycat Leotard.

The Liberal Democrats to be CONGRATULATED are:

Mr Norman the Baker,
Ms Lovely Burt,
Mr Tim Farron,
Ms Sandra Giddy,
Ms Julia Worth-her-weight-in-Goldsworthy
Dr Evan Elp Us Harris,
Mr David Howarth,
Mr Simon Hugs,
Ms Susan Kramer vs Kramer

Also, Ms Jo Swinson and Mr Alan Reid who were doing the counting up.

Honourable mentions too to Mr Lemming Icepick and Dr Power Cable who were present during at least some of the debate.

We managed to field a whole 20% of our Parliamentarians there, but at least every one of them voted the right way!

(And the REST of you can go and HANG YOUR HEADS!)

"This is a DAY OF SHAME!" said the Liberal Democrat’s Mr David Heath.

And he is RIGHT!

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