Monday, 28 November 2011

Freedom of Information

I think most of my readers know that my views about BW puts me somewhere to the left of Genghis Khan in the BW supporters club. In political terms I believe the the rich and powerful within BW have traditionally been able to enjoy much to much control at the expense of everyone else.



Political parties are always seeking "donations" to the cause.  So whilst the grass roots membership of a party feel that they are the representative majority. The reality is most political parties would prostitute themselves in an instant for a good "donation". Big business also knows this and gives their financial support to whichever party is prepared - by sleight of hand, or a nod and a wink, even a nudge nudge say no more - to do their bidding.



We all give donations - we see the picture of a child starving in Africa and our hands go to our pockets. We are motivated through the basic instinct to help. Big business sees no "profit" in giving support to such issues. Business sees a return on bank rolling giving political donations to political parties that dance to their tune.



The media is in a similar position they have a political bias in one direction or another. They also court the political parties. However this time its not a donation they offer. Its spin, the age old craft of bending, twisting and manipulating the truth into a lie to sell tomorrows chip paper.



The politicians run scared of the media. Their political status and their private lives can be ruined by the content of a hacked phone. Politicians are watched and monitored, until the time is right. Then like a puppet they can be jiggled to dance to a different tune.

For what purpose exactly did we grant freedom of the press. The freedom to self regulate for instance has been a big joke for years. It's a disingenuous freedom because news operations are influenced every day by their advertisers and by their owners' predilections. The freedom of the press was never granted so that they can enquire into the private lives of anyone.

Public interest is a very different thing to what the voyeur might find interesting. The name "News of the Screws" was the media selling newspapers on celebrity nonsense and paid to-kiss-and-tell tarts who screwed for the money. None of that can ever be construed as Public Interest.



Why do the media publish with impunity whatever they wish. It is because they are being protected by the knowledge that recourse to the law is a privilege of the wealthy. In other words most people can do nothing about setting right a wrong or stifling publication of any untruth.  Unless they have a large pile of dosh waiting in the litigation coffers.

For a £10,000 donation to the Conservatives you can have regular meetings with the minister of any department of your choice. For a paltry £25,000 you can join the prime ministers "Luncheon Club".  

The formation of CaRT is a political expediency to save money, its not a change being brought about by necessity.  Expediency does not lend itself to an improved and better future. The smokescreen of Big Society covers up the casting adrift of a national treasure.

Is there any likelihood of British Waterways or Canal and River Trust becoming embroiled in  the murk by being manipulated on the strength of a corporate donation!  How will we know who in the CaRT management structure is meeting who for lunch. I believe that this can happen if transparency of the new charity is clouded by refusing to accept the Freedom of Information Act. As with street cameras - if you are doing nothing wrong what do you have to fear - other than being caught out!

We are all going to become quite soon paying "customers" of a charity organisation. Not paying "members" of a charity organisation. This has some serious implications because we will have no say as members. I have some concerns about this. So I have written a couple of times to the Charity Commissioners outlining my fears for the future of  the Inland Waterways.

As a customer of say a power company I can change my provider if I am not happy with the service and charges. As a customer of CaRT I have no alternative choice. As a member of a charitable organisation I have some say if only at an AGM. Not being a member of CaRT means I have no say at all. The only option is to go cap in hand, a position that I would not be happy to be in.

I don't have trust in the BW management and it certainly will not be there for the change over to CaRT as there will be no one in the system that I feel I can put my faith into.


Later....



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