Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Enemy of Democracy



The decision of the Information Commissioner to order that the minutes of the Cabinet meetings where the legality of the Iraq war was discussed is to be warmly welcomed. James Forsythe disagrees: on the Spectator's Coffee House blog, he argues that if cabinet minutes can be released so soon after the event, it effectively means the end of cabinet government. That would undoubtedly be the case if minutes of all cabinet meetings were to be released, but we’re talking about something very serious here- Cabinet debates on the legality of a war which has cost hundreds of thousands of innocent lives, and cost the taxpayer billions of pounds.

We could do with more open government in Britain, not less: secrecy has always been an enemy of democracy. And peace.

4 comments:

Dan, porsmouth said...

You are right Neil, But I'm not sure there are much in the minutes.
Clare short who was a member of the cabinet at the time, Said in a Raido interview, only few members will talk. also not every thing is written.
Some experts on Radio4 PM news has suggested that personal notes of the Cabinet secretary would be more valuable...

Charlie Marks said...

Let's not forget that these minutes are of a cabinet meeting that took place five years ago, not five days ago.

The argument that it would be damaging to reveal these minutes is cover for the fact we were lied to about what the war was for and to the threat we really faced from Iraq...

Nick said...

What do you mean, "the end of cabinet government"? Didn't Tony Blair dispose of that when he was in office? It certainly looked that way from the outside.

neil craig said...

Another sign of how dissent from the Iraq War is acceptable & the Yugoslav wars have to be hushed up. When the Attorney General had to release his advice on the legality of the Iraq war I made an FoI enquiry about his advice on the legality of the Yugoslav war & was told that it had been decided not no only not to release any such advice to but not to make public whether the government had ever even bothered to ask for such advice.

The assumption has to be that they hadn't. But the disparity in treatment of 2 very similar cases in what is supposed to be a system of equality under the law was disgraceful. It is made even more disgraceful by this extension of only Iraqi information.