Posted on February 2nd, 2012 No comments
Eric and Ernie, Barker and Corbett, Keegan and Toshack are all great double acts. Few would disagree. At one point in history you might even have added Brown and Blair to that list, as everybody spent the money they didn’t earn propelling us to our present economic meltdown. But will anybody ever mention Cameron and Clegg in those same terms – I fear not.
What makes a great double act? I would suggest it is that the individuals, although they may have different qualities and attributes, are widely perceived to be roughly equal in talent and skill. Also they are made individually better because they act as a foil for their partner. So when Toshack heads the ball on for Keegan to crack it in the back of the net; it’s the same as Ernie feeding Eric a gag.
Now let’s look at the Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum of British politics – Cameron and Clegg. After their initial love-in at the No.10 garden, things haven’t gone great for the No.2 man.
Clegg has been made to look a chump by doing the mother of all U-turns on tuition fees and managed to get snared in an unwinnable PR referendum, which means the Liberals will forever be on the fringes of politics.
I’ve now been supplied with a FoI response from the Cabinet Office, sent only after I got the Information Commissioner involved, which shows just how seriously Clegg is taken inside Government.
Those of you who have read this blog before will know I was trying to find out the communication between No.10 and Wimbledon in relation to the deputy MP helping himself to complimentary tickets for the women’s final this year – an event which two of my family attended AFTER winning a raffle AND then paying £200.
The Cabinet Office said they could find no record of him having attended the event! But I saw him on television hobnobbing in the Royal Box.
When I found a photo of him at the event and sent that to the Commissioner the Cabinet Office did at last find a record of the information.
But let’s look at the excuse. Does it give us an insight into just how highly regarded Clegg must be considered within No.10.
“The search for information in response to your initial request was co-ordinated by two members of staff (one inside No.10 and one for the rest of the Cabinet Office). Each thought that the other had contacted the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office, when in fact neither had. I am very sorry for this oversight. I have now taken steps to make the search process more robust in future cases.”
Ignored by not just one official but two!
If you want to see the whole of the letter it is here No10, and the actual e-mail exchange in which Clegg first tries to go on a day when there is no tennis and then seems more concerned about who else will be in the Royal Box is here Emails.
Posted on January 10th, 2012 No comments
This year my wife and son managed to secure tickets for Wimbledon. We acquired them through the draw that was held at our local Sussex tennis club, and as luck would have it they were for the Women’s Final.
On the day of the match I was left at home watching the contest on television while those two travelled up to SW19 to enjoy the contest.
I should say here that although we “won” the tickets what we actually won was the right to buy them for roughly £100 each – no half price reduction for kids at the All England Club.
So when I watched the match and saw the cameras cut to the Royal Box to see the nation’s esteemed deputy leader hob-knobbing in the front row with his wife I saw a chance to recoup some of my outlay.
What about FoIing the Cabinet Office to see the communications chain between Mr Clegg and Wimbledon? So I sent off a FoI request to those lovely people at the Cabinet Office.
My first reply was that they held no information and that everything is published in the hospitality register. I appealed the decision and was told effectively, that was it, go away.
I appealed to the Information Commissioner saying I wasn’t that interested in the actual hospitality – as I know what it was because I saw him – what I really want is the communication chain behind the invite.
A little later a letter arrives from the Cabinet Office saying they have now managed to find some communication. I attach it here. Cabinet Office letter
But to my surprise this relates to the Prime Minister and his wife saying thanks for the invite but they won’t be able to make it.
So I’ve told the Information Commissioner I’m not dropping the appeal on the basis of what I’ve been sent so far and I’ve sent off the picture below, just to prove I wasn’t dreaming it.
Some of you might think I’m making a fuss over this, and you are entitled to your view. However, if Mr and Mrs Clegg are going to accept tickets for Wimbledon that the hoi polloi have to pay hundreds of pounds for they can expect a bit of scrutiny.
And what do the Cabinet Office take us for? Idiots? Are we supposed to believe that Clegg and his wife didn’t have anything to do that Saturday and thought they would just turn up and see if they could talk their way in? I’ll keep you posted on developments.
Posted on January 6th, 2011 No comments
The first details of what might appear in the new coalition Government’s Freedom Bill have started to leak out.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg suggested in an interview with the Daily Mail that hundreds more taxpayer-funded and charitable bodies should come under the Freedom of Information Act.
New organisations that could be caught by the Act include Network Rail, the Advertising Standards Authority, the Local Government Association and utility companies, who must have thought they had escaped the clutches of the Act following a recent Tribunal decision.
In the interview Mr Clegg said that if an organisation’s behaviour and decisions had ‘clear consequences for the public good, people must be able to see right into the heart of them’.
He also said that the Information Commissioner’s Office is to be overhauled to make it independent of the Ministry of Justice.
The Deputy Prime Minister said Britain remained a society where information was ‘hoarded by the few’.
He said: ‘As we know, information is knowledge, and knowledge is power.
‘People cannot be free when the state is forever on their back; when their liberties are denied and their autonomy is undermined. So this Government is going to restore British freedoms.
‘It is part of our wider project to resettle the relationship between people and government.
‘Free citizens must be able to hold big institutions and powerful individuals to account, and not only the Government.
‘There are a whole range of organisations who benefit from public money and whose activities have a profound impact on the public good.
‘In order to do so, citizens must first know what goes on in these institutions, and they must be at liberty to speak out about the things they discover.
‘It is a modern right to information combined with traditional freedom of expression.
‘Recent years have seen some progress on transparency, most notably through the introduction of the Freedom of Information Act.
‘But that progress has stalled. The Freedom of Information Act was a good start, but it was only a start.
‘Exceptions remain far too common and the available information is too often placed behind tedious bureaucratic hurdles.
‘The previous Labour Government knew this but chose to respond to repeated calls for the extension of freedom of information by kicking the issue into the long grass.’