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  • Jack Straw - An Apology…….is owed to the rest of us.

    Posted on December 11th, 2009 admin No comments
    Madge ponders a delicate S.36 issue

    Madge ponders a delicate S.36 issue

    Somebody once said (and apologies to whoever dreamed up the analogy) that the use of the Government’s Freedom of Information veto was a little like losing one’s virginity.

    They reasoned that the first time was a big deal preceded by a “will they, won’t they” debate.

    But after they take the plunge every subsequent application of the veto is increasingly less significant than the first – under you end up spraying your vetos around like confetti.

    Jack Straw has gone from virgin to slapper in the space of a year.

    We watched him apparently agonise over the Iraq cabinet minutes for months as the case dragged through the Commissioner and then the Tribunal.

    Eventually he issued his veto with a commentary that indicated this was an important decision, and a power that would only be used in special circumstances, blah, blah, blah.

    Now what happens! He slaps out his veto before the case even gets to the Tribunal – to follow my slutty analogy, it’s the equivalent of not even waiting to get a room.

    And what is the subject matter in question upon which the whole fabric of Government depends – some obscure minutes about the subject of devolution (which has now happened if you hadn’t noticed) that are 12 years old already.

    No wonder the Information Commissioner Office was moved to issue a statement saying the Christopher Graham was: “concerned that the government may routinely use the veto whenever he orders the disclosure of the minutes of Cabinet proceedings, irrespective of the subject matter or age of the information.”

    Jack before he lost his "integrity" specs

    Jack before he lost his "integrity" specs

    And after.

    And after.

    What would a visitor from outer space make of the Government’s application of its own Freedom of Information Act? On the day the Act helped to reveal a back bench MP spent £2 on a hamburger maker, that same legislation was used to deny us access to the decision making process behind one of the most momentous constitutional changes the country has seen.

    They say you get the Government you deserve?

    For those who would like a more erudite treaty on the Government’s veto I suggest you visit Martin Rosenbaum’s excellent blog [link] on the topic.

    Those of you who fancy a bit of 80s nostalgia click below for Madonna’s take on events – I should warn people it ends with her writhing curiously around on the floor.