38 Degrees Internet Group Want the Views of the Public before Meeting the Government

I got this message from the internet petitioning group, 38 Degrees. They’re appealing to their members to give their views on the changes to the Freedom of Information Act before one of the organisers of the petition, Blanche Shackleton, meets the government on Wednesday. They’ve been asking people, who’ve signed the petition and given their views, to pass it on to their friends and family, who may be interested.

This is their message.

Hi,

Have a look at this:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/foi-meeting-comments

Before Christmas, the government was quietly planning to water down our Freedom of Information laws: our right to know what our politicians are up to, and how they’re spending our public money.

Fast-forward a few months and they seem to be backing off because of a big public backlash. Together we built a massive petition and tens of thousands of us have written in to the government consultation. One minister’s quoted in the press saying; “Nobody in the Government wants to touch this now, it’s a very hot political potato.”

None of this is a done deal – yet. But we’re having impact.

We have a chance to win this on Wednesday. One of the 38 Degrees team, Blanche Shackleton, has been invited to give evidence about protecting FOI laws to the people who are advising the government on this. They’re in the final throes of putting together their recommendations. So this is our opportunity to really hammer home where we stand.

Blanche wants to make sure she’s representing as many people as possible on Wednesday. So please can you take 3 minutes to let her know your thoughts on our right to freedom of information, via a short survey? Click here to go to the short survey:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/foi-meeting-comments

Thanks,

I’ve signed, and given my views on this extremely important issue, particularly because of the experience of Mike at Vox Political and the rest of the disability activists and bloggers. They’ve been trying to get the DWP to release the figures for the numbers of people, who have died after being found fit for work by Atos and Maximus. The government has done everything they can to put obstacles in the path and prevent the release of this information.

Campaigners on other, related issues have also suffered the same treatment. Johnny Void, who blogs and campaigns on behalf of the homeless and against workfare, has stated that the government flatly refuses to give the names of the companies participating in it, because otherwise they might suffer resistance and so the scheme would fail.

Private Eye has had their request for information on the extent of British land and estates that are owned by offshore trusts turned down by the Information Commissioner as ‘vexatious’.

The Independent has also had their request for official information on expenses turned down, also because it is deemed ‘vexatious’, by those in authority.

And the Cabinet Secretary made a statement a few months ago in which he said that he wanted even further restrictions placed on the Freedom of Information Act. He has, however, since then said that he’s entirely satisfied with the way it work. Probably because nothing was being released that the government didn’t want released.

This is a government that has made no secret of its intention to stop the public getting hold of information that may hold them to account. They have stated that the purpose of releasing information to the public is not so that the public can challenge official decisions, but so they can understand how they’re made. As numerous manuals on drugs manufacture have printed on their covers, ‘This is for information purposes only.’

Well, drugs can be dangerous, and even legal highs have killed people. But not nearly as many as this secretive, officious and authoritarian government. If you have strong feelings about this issue, as I have, and wish to do something to help people like Mike, Mr Void and countless others hold the government to account, then please feel free to take the survey.

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