Politics

Labour Turns Attack Guns… on Blair’s Downing Street Creation



Labour Turns Attack Guns… on Blair’s Downing Street Creation

Rachel Reeves took to Twitter yesterday to decry the Government’s ‘clearing house’ for Freedom of Information requests. Reeves referenced an OpenDemocracy article about a sinister sounding “secretive Cabinet Office ‘Clearing House’ for Freedom of Information requests”. It’s not only Reeves who slammed the clearing house, Labour shadow Cabinet Office minister Helen Hayes chimed in calling it “extremely troubling”. They may therefore both be surprised to discover that the clearing house was established in 2004, dealing with hundreds of requests under Blair, which were sent from departments to the central body

Tony Blair, writing in 2010, recalls in “A Journey” how much he detested the publics Freedom of Information rights he legislated for:

“Freedom of Information. Three harmless words. I look at those words as I write them, and feel like shaking my head till it drops off my shoulders. You idiot. You naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop. There is really no description of stupidity, no matter how vivid, that is adequate. I quake at the imbecility of it. Once I appreciated the full enormity of the blunder, I used to say – more than a little unfairly – to any civil servant who would listen: Where was Sir Humphrey when I needed him? We had legislated in the first throes of power. How could you, knowing what you know have allowed us to do such a thing so utterly undermining of sensible government?”

So he created a centralised delaying mechanism to frustrate his own introduction of Freedom of Information rights. Joined up government – as a stitch up.

Whilst Guido has noticed a slow-moving approach to FoI requests, having dealt with the Labour years it’s rich to see Reeves and her Shadow Ministers line up to attack their party’s own creation of sluggish central handling. Do as I say not as we did…




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