30 November 2010

Wikileaks and the 'right to know'....

The Wikileaks saga slowly unfolds and its getting more domestic coverage because some of the leaks relate to UK domestic figures. Malcolm Rifkind has just been on the Today programme on Radio 4  sharing the view that these leaks are damaging to national interests and security. Specific mention was given to the pressure that Saudi Arabia is putting pressure on the USA to attack Iran and when asked if the public (in the UK) should know about this, Rifkind took the usual patronising position that these were matters to be discussed in private. But of course, should the USA decide to give in to Saudi pressure, I'm sure the USA would ask for a 'coalition of the willing' and I'm sure that British service personnel would be sent off to die on foreign soil (as they do today) as a result of 'private conversations'.

And this reminds me of Somerset County Council and the conversations that 'Kutter Ken' and his chums have been having with George Osborne with regard to Somerset County Council's budget. Who is going to be affected by the budget cuts? Not people in some foreign land but you and me, so why aren't we told what exactly is planned? These people are elected representatives and they are there to represent you and me not Central Office. But, most probably, the truth is just too ugly and it might cause people to wonder just what the leadership in Taunton is up to. Equally, it might cause people to wonder whether or not this was what they voted for.

Looking back at ex-Chairperson Mountain's email to me, he suggested that our elected leaders make their policy statements on the run-up to the election, we vote on that basis and then we leave them to get on with the job. But then we discover that their agenda isn't quite the agenda that they published in order to get our vote. In fact, their agenda isn't driven by any 'local' circumstance but is, in fact, driven by a national policy upon which we didn't get the right to vote.

And this is my own argument for a constantly engaged electorate who don't simply hand power over to polictians and elected representatives and leave them to it. If we've learned anything about our elected leaders it is that most of them are liars and con-persons. Judged by their actions (Nick Clegg being a prime example) they'd sell their children into slavery in order to get their hands on the levers of power. And when they succeed, they don't pull those levers for you and me but for their chums.

Till next time, I'm Niall Connolly