Monday, 11 November 2013

TEMPLATE POLITICS - Part 1

I recently posted that I'd received a response from the Business Department (BIS) to my FOI and SAR requests and felt that some of the information was quite disturbing. It's therefore taken a couple of weeks to digest and understand.

Firstly they waited until 4pm on the deadline date to inform me of the following:

"We are unable to answer your request without exceeding the cost limit of 600 pounds under s12, but have provided some information that the department has previously disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act".

"You may wish to refine your request by narrowing down its scope and being more specific about what information you particularly wish to obtain".

I have now replied and narrowed down the scope of my request, but a number of things did stand out from the information provided which I'll publish in separate posts.

Template Politics

The first was that many politicians have raised concerns about blacklisting to the BIS on behalf of their constituents, only to receive a standard template letter back from either Vince Cable or Jo Swinson.

This appears to be no more than a political administrative Merry-Go-Round, and those raising the concerns on behalf of their constituents appear to just accept this template letter and take no further action.

BIS TEMPLATE LETTER (Pg1) 

BIS TEMPLATE LETTER (Pg2) 

I'll detail fifteen or so cross party examples from earlier this year:

1. Concern raised: Julie Hilling MP to Theresa May
Template response: Jo Swinson to Julie Hilling

2. Concern raised: George Osborne MP to Jo Swinson
Template response: Jo Swinson to George Osborne

In this example, George Osborne raises concerns from his constituents about blacklisting in the entertainment industry. He too gets the template letter from Jo Swinson in which she adds "in the entertainment industry" to the wording.

GEORGE OSBORNE TO JO SWINSON - FEB 2013 

JO SWINDON TO GEORGE OSBORNE - MARCH 2013 

3. Concern raised: Sir Bob Russell MP to Vince Cable
Template response: Jo Swinson to Sir Bob Russell

4. Concern raised: John Hayes MP to Theresa May
Template response: Jo Swinson to John Hayes

5. Concern raised: Rosie Cooper MP to Vince Cable
Template response: Jo Swinson to Rosie Cooper

6. Concern raised: David Laws MP to Vince Cable
Template response: Vince Cable to David Laws

7. Concern raised: Chris Heaton MP to Vince Cable
Template response: Jo Swinson to Chris Heaton

8. Concern raised: Nicola Blackwood MP to Jo Swinson
Template response: Jo Swinson to Nicola Blackwood

9. Concern raised: Peter Bone MP to Vince Cable
Template response: Jo Swinson to Peter Bone

10. Concern raised: Paul Burstow MP to Vince Cable
Template response: Jo Swinson to Paul Burstow

11. Concern raised: Simon Wright MP to Vince Cable
Template response: Jo Swinson to Simon Wright

12. Concern raised: Bill Wiggin MP to Lord McNally
Template response: Jo Swinson to Bill Wiggin

13. Concern raised: Menzies Campbell MP to Vince Cable
Template response: Vince Cable to Menzies Campbell

14. Concern raised: Tom Brake MP to Vince Cable
Template response: Jo Swinson to Tom Brake

15. Concern raised: Geraint Davies MP to Iain Duncan Smith
Template response: Jo Swinson to Geraint Davies

Geraint Davies receives the very same standard template letter on four separate occasions on the 11th, 13th, 15th and 22nd February 2013.

It just goes on and on...

Andrew Tyrie to Jo Swinson, Mike Penning to Jo Swinson, Malcolm Rifkind to Vince Cable, David Milliband to Vince Cable, Mike Hancock to Iain Duncan Smith...

Summary

This disturbs me as it raises the question as to whether many of our politicians really care about the issues we raise, or are they just happy to accept and process the administrative political merry-go-round identified above?

I think my own MP, David Hanson summed this up in his letter to Jack Straw in 2009 in which he asks him to provide:

"A response suitable to pass on to my constituent".

JACK STRAW LETTER - 2009


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