Via Iain Dale, I come across Tom Watson‘s spirited defence of his decision to back the Freedom from Information (none of your fucking business) Bill. Apparently, the Tories Made Him Do It. But, for a bit more detail, here is his argument point-by-point (I’d comment on his blog, but he banned me years ago):
1. If the speaker had not guaranteed that MPâ€™s expenses will continue to be published, I would not have supported the Bill. I repeat – you will still be able to see the expense tables like you have been able to for the last three years.
This is a mischevious half-truth. The fact is there are currently numerous appeals to the Information Commissioner calling for MPs to disclose more detailed information. The Commons’ expenses disclosure isn’t even close to the Scottish Parliament where literally every single invoice is available to view online.
Note that he says “you will still be able to see the expense tables like you have been able to for the last three years” – in other words the detailed information about travel expenses published earlier this year as a result of a case brought forward by Norman Baker would be the first to go.
2. Despite people saying that there is protection under the Data Protection Act, public sector bodies are still revealing the private correspondence between them and MPs regarding constituents.
If it is illegal now and yet people are doing it, it follows that it will still happen if this new Bill is passed. How does passing another law stop people who are already breaking the law? The issue is enforcement – yet the government forces the Information Commissioner to get along with a shoestring budget.
3. This Bill was put forward by the former Tory Chief Whip. Donâ€™t be fooled by the disingenous comments and synthetic outrage of Iain Dale and his chums. Incidentally, he seemed to know how many MPs from each party had voted on the Bill yesterday afternoon – before they are made available in Hansard. He can only have got this information from a source in one of the Whips offices (Iâ€™m certain the parliamentary clerks would not help him). This suggests to me that he is part of a Tory spin operation – understandable but funadamentally dishonest in regard to this piece of legislation.
This is worth looking at because it is simply hilarious. Like Iain Dale, I was following the debate on Hansard, which now has less than a three hour time lag. I certainly agree with Tom that the Tories were equally complicit, but I don’t extend that criticism to individuals like Richard Shepherd, John Redwood and, yes, Iain Dale, any more than I do Labour rebels like David Winnick. For Watson to try to blame the Tories for this Bill when Labour has a majority and three times as many of them voted for the Bill as Tories is just eye watering, Comical Tommy stuff.
4. Finally – If Menzies Campbell thought so strongly about this Bill, why wasnâ€™t he there to speak and vote against it?
Because like most MPs he usually has constituency work on Fridays. We can’t all lounge around in Westminster ready to serve as government lickspittles at a moment’s notice.
If I wanted to sum up everything that I truly find deplorable about the Labour Party, it is Tom Watson. A dirty tricks campaigner par excellence, a House of Lords abolitionist (and simultaneously supporter of the status quo), anti-electoral reform, pro-compulsory voting, bemoans the civil liberty implications of RFID tags while voting enthusiastically for ID cards, die-hard Blairite loyalist right up until he can detect the wind has changed whereupon he attempts to orchestrate a coup for newfound best friend Gordon Brown, friends of even bigger moron Sion Simon… what it all adds up to is a nasty little man who is just a little bit too much in love with totalitarianism.
Oh, and if you haven’t done so already, join the Protect Freedom of Information Facebook Group.