Positive Action Group - Possan Jantys Jarrooagh

Open, accountable government, rigorous control of public finances, and a fairer society for all.

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Heather Brooke on Freedom of Information | Monday 28 November

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MP Expenses headline

Heather BrookeHeather Brooke: The freedom of information campaigner who took on the House of Commons and won!


Our next public meeting will be at 7:30 on Monday 28th November at the Manx Legion in Market Street and will feature Heather Brooke as speaker.

Heather is an investigative journalist and freedom of information campaigner who is best known for her role in exposing the 2009 UK parliamentary expenses scandal. She spent five years badgering away on this before the Telegraph picked up the story. She has more recently worked with the Guardian on the wikileaks issue.

She is a visiting professor at City University's Department of Journalism in London and the author of Your Right to Know (2006), The Silent State (2010), and The Revolution Will Be Digitised (2011).

We are sure that there will be quite a demand for seats so please do arrive early. If members require a reserved seat please contact us.

All are welcome, as always entrance is free.

 

Comments   

 
+1 #7 RE: Heather Brooke on Freedom of Information | Monday 28 NovemberGuest 2011-12-22 08:43
:-|















SO :-| WHY, given all this Positive Input and Rubbishing of all of the Bell and Brown Negativity Plays, do we still not have any prospect of FOI ? . . . COME ON, FOLKS , SACK BELL for NON-PERFORMANCE !!
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+1 #6 Premier ShareholderGuest 2011-11-30 14:27
There will never be a FOI (of any worth) on the Isle of Man until the “proletariat” kick-out the corrupt government and its poodles who have been fleecing the island for years.

And rest assured that before this wretched government is finally removed the paper shredders will be working overtime to hide evidence of corruption, deception and financial shenanigans.

Wake up Isle of Man. You are being screwed.
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+1 #5 Conflicts of interestGuest 2011-11-30 12:03
Quoting RC:
... the perceived arrogance of our public servants, when their actions are questioned by the voting public, is overwhelming. It may be one secures a condesending acknowledgement that you may have a point and "we shall look into it" and then find they come back with some 'cock and bull' excuse ... If the common public dares to raise its head in dissension the best it will get is short shrift and no helpful action will result.


It is not only the common public that gets short shrift. Witness the treatment reserved by (former) Treasury Minister Anne Craine in response to the timid, but nevertheless eminently sensible, recommendations of the Select Committee on KSFIOM, most notably the unambiguous recommendation that bank directors should not be allowed to sit on the board of the FSC. This it appeared was because it was being looked into by some other committee. Can we expect the cock and bull excuse soon - or will this simply die a quiet and unmourned death in the face of other more pressing matters?
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+1 #4 RE: Heather Brooke on Freedom of Information | Monday 28 NovemberGuest 2011-11-30 11:22
Many thanks RC for your reflections. And bravo to PAG for organising this meeting.

As someone who follows events in the Isle of Man from afar, I would be interested to know roughly how many people attended the meeting and what the general feeling seemed to be. It would also be great if others who were present could add their own impressions and thoughts.

Re: "Obviously the Manx government has a bad case of FOE ( fear of exposure) and see, therefore, the spectre of FOI as a threat to their security."

Speaking of Jersey in his illuminating book "Treasure Islands: tax havens and the men who stole the world", Nicolas Shaxson says (page 232) "Three local sayings encapsulate Jersey: 'Don't hang your dirty washing out in public;' 'Don't rock the boat;' and 'If you don't like it, there's always a boat in the morning.' " All of that and so much more that Shaxson reports in relation to Jersey accords uncannily with my (fortunately limited, but decidedly negative) experiences with the workings of the IoM. Reading the last saying, I laughed out loud: how many times have I read exactly that riposte given to anyone who dares to openly criticise the status quo in the IoM?

My question, as an interested outsider with the long-term good of the island at heart, would be: Is PAG getting any nearer to being able to 'rock the boat' (without leaving on another boat in the morning)? When will critical mass be reached? Maybe ouside events will conspire to give a push - or more likely a shove - in the right direction? Good luck PAG - keep up the good work!
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+6 #3 Reflections on FOI meetingGuest 2011-11-30 00:28
I left Monday night's PAG meeting on FOI feeling somewhat subdued. Why this came about I can't quite decide except to say that the revelation that the stance adopted by governments - universally it seems - is anti FOI seems to have left me in a vacuum. That reasonble men who claim to support democratic rule can then seek (once elected) to abdicate their moral duty, to keep their [sic] public informed, has left me especially nonplussed.

Heather Brookes' discourse on FOI was liberally laced - I noted - with several references to the behaviour of the press; both good and bad. Indeed I felt at times more time was given to this element than that of the Manx Government's reluctance to move forward on FOI. In short, no clear message emerged on that issue except the - perhaps mischievous - suggestion, from Heather, that the IOM newspapers(?) unearth some major scandal within Government circles; citing the Nixon debacle in America as a prime example and, not least, the MPs' expenses scandal in the U.K.
But, in view of the testimony offered by an IoM newspaper journalist - her name escapes me - wrt investigative journalism or rather the absence of it, the chances of any newspaper on the Island taking up the challenge is zero to nothing!

In view of this proven attitude, rigorously and tenaciously adopted Governments over FOI, how can the ordinary man expect to penetrate their Government's perceived inscrutability?

How can a true Democracy function when the very people who have been elected to preserve it are in denial over the need for FOI.?
It is clearly a case of one set of rules for Government and another [less accommodating] set for the 'proletariat'.
Obviously the Manx government has a bad case of FOE ( fear of exposure) and see, therefore, the spectre of FOI as a threat to their security.

Sadly I lacked the clarity of thought to put forward, on the night, a proposal that there was an inextricable link between FOI (FOE?) and the other issue noted on the leaflets that went round the hall, namely; "conflicts of interest". It was to be my observation that the reason the Manx government hesitates to launch the FOI act is that they haven't actually "got their act together". What I mean by this is they haven't got round to 'shreddiing' all that damning information concerning the vested interests of the government members: did I not correctly hear Heather Brookes say that an awful lot of "shredding" went on before the FOI Act became law in the UK?

Although I recognise that Heather is an accomplished investigative journalist in her own right, the convolutions of her discussion left me struggling to keep up: clearly, on the basis of the amazing quality of many of the questions from the floor, others were not so dazed and it was apparent that many had been well prepared for this meeting.

I was interested to hear your account of your visit to the courts hoping to see what cases were to be heard only to be told it was not permitted to reveal that information: totally outrageous! Who, for the love of Michael, is paying these people?

On a personal note I have had 'run ins' with local authority many times over the years and the fobbing off 'mind set' I have encountered rings loudly in favour of keeping FOI off the statute books: the perceived arrogance of our public servants, when their actions are questioned by the voting public, is overwhelming. It may be one secures a condesending acknowledgement that you may have a point and "we shall look into it" and then find they come back with some 'cock and bull' excuse that it, is not in their remit or not in their durisdiction making no real effort to help you pursue the issue through the appropriate channel. And so it has been for years and years. If the common public dares to raise its head in dissension the best it will get is short shrift and no helpful action will result.
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