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Your right to know

Heather Brooke is a brilliant freedom of information campaigner and investigative journalist, whose work paved the way for the MPs’ expenses exposé. One group that has made impressive use of the advice in her book, Your Right to Know (published by the radical Pluto Press), is the TaxPayers’ Alliance. So it’s perhaps not surprising that she joined forces with the TPA to launch a petition to publish MPs’ expenses in full. But it’s still disappointing to see her giving the TPA credibility - and some of her readers clearly think likewise.

Posted by Other TPA at 03:53pm on 3 July 2009
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This goes deeper than the ‘naive’ joining together of a freedom of information campaigner and the anti-statists of the Taxpayers Alliance. Heather Brooke is American and perhaps, like many Americans, drinks deep at the anti-government well: rugged individualism rules ok.
Maybe she, too, thinks governments always and everywhere are out to get us (the paranoid strain is heavy in American politics of the left as of the right). FOI campaigners haven’t always avoided anti state rhetoric. Why does the state need to collect so much data, they say - forgetting that data is usually the basis for fair tax and redistributive spending.
So let’s be very careful. FOI speaks to a body of values which don’t sit easily with those which underpin support for active government, taxing and spending to secure common ends. Of course fiscal activists can benefit from the deployment of FOI. But if FOI leads to opposition to government, we’ve come to a parting of the ways.

Posted by David Walker at 06:00pm on 7 July 2009

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