Brexit legal advice debate runs on!


(Paul Bradley) #1

The Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, will be briefing MPs in the Commons today on the legal advice provided to UK Government on whether the UK can leave the customs union if it didn’t strike a new trade deal.

The problem: they’re only going to be told what the PM is happy sharing in a stripped back version of the legal guidance.

This argument over whether the Attorney General’s legal advice should be published in full before next week’s crunch vote has again brought transparency and public trust in politics to the centre of Brexit proceedings. May is playing a risky game of Jenga with the Commons right now, could this be the move that brings it all tumbling down? Could a Labour contempt motion lead to a confidence vote, or will the Government have a few more moves to play until the deal is voted down?

The Attorney General’s statement will take place at 2pm today. The follow-on discussion will be one of interest to us all. Please share your thoughts!

Scotland is currently in the process of developing its second open government action plan, and we are pleased to see that Scottish Government has pursued a commitment on Brexit in the final plan, which will be shared shortly.

Paul


(John Alexander McFadyen) #2

Personally I trust no one on any side, be it political or ideological. In the case of withholding the Attorney General’s legal advice it is perfectly possible that it does not contain anything of substance that would allow a more clear cut decision to be made. All the subterfuge being aimed at it all being a let down to those looking for the smoking gun in order to take the wind out of their sails and have the populace duped into thinking Mrs May was judged harshly thus gaining her sympathy votes from waiverers.
Open government is a myth; I am currently at loggerheads with my local authority over a safeguarding issue which, although straight forward, has been the subject of obfuscation and prevarication and downright dishonesty by the powers that be, They are even claiming a straight forward freedom of information request has possible confidentiality dimensions which would prevent release of the information.


(Ruchir Shah) #3

The debate is currently happening now in the Commons. Is opengov just a PR exercise? Is closed government the best way to preserve effective public policy decisions?


(John Alexander McFadyen) #4

Only in matters of national security (properly defined in law) should government or government departments be allowed to withhold information or non explain fully their decisions and how there were reached. Even commercial interests do not excuse such information being secreted away as all government transactions should be transparent thus providing a level and competitive playing field open to public scrutiny…


(Amanda Heenan) #5

John, I suspect you’re probably spot on in your assessment. Also empathise with your challenge with your local authority - unfortunately public services have become adept at pulling up the drawbridges over risk, rather than reaching out to people at a human level.

Seems everything about Brexit has been a study in, not only closed government, but a government that provides mis-information to justify decisions that act against the interests of the majority of the population.

The ‘principles’ of Open Government imply a relationship between the Government and the population. There are constant breaches of trust and confidence in that relationship. The question active for me at the moment is: how do we strengthen our muscles as a population to support each other to challenge that, rather than looking for ‘others’ to blame, many of whom are also suffering from the impact of poor policy and inequalities?

I feel we will need to strengthen those muscles in the coming years, but the focus has got to be on strengthening our relationships and supporting each other.


(John Alexander McFadyen) #6

I agree Amanda but I have learned the power of persistence and I believe in the power people can have collectively. As individuals we get picked off and worn down until we quit. Perhaps we need a new political movement, one that does not do deals behind closed doors for political gain. To go with it we need a new politics that enshrines the true spirit of democracy rather than the shallow, self serving variety that predicates our current local and national system.

I know good independent politicians who have to compromise their values to survive in the mire of our sticky, broken system where getting elected and holding power is the pinnacle. We need to change it. Most people are too caught up in their own world to really get involved which allows the few to rule the roost. Maybe we can work it our on the Open Government Network?

I think some of these initiatives are admirable and may help in organising and galvanising ordinary people to have a meaningful voice. I think we may need to look beyond such initiatives though and create a movement built upon the principles of openness in government but with a focussed purpose without the trappings of political manacles?


(Ruchir Shah) #7

I agree with you John. We need to build movement here.

Have a look at https://opengovpioneers.miraheze.org/wiki/Evaluation#Legacy_planning_suggestions where a number of us are looking at the options available.


(John Alexander McFadyen) #8

I think some of these initiatives are admirable and may help in organising and galvanising ordinary people to have a meaningful voice. I think we may need to look beyond such initiatives though and create a movement built upon the principles of openness in government but with a focussed purpose without the trappings of political manacles?


(Ruchir Shah) #9

Why not add to the list, and develop it with us? What better way than to start developing it openly from the start. If you add your thoughts there, I’ll add to it and post the wiki link here.


(INIREF) #10

John Alexander McFadyen wrote:

[Jocko] Jocko John Alexander McFadyen
December 3

Personally I trust no one on any side, be it political or
ideological. In the case of withholding the Attorney General’s legal
advice it is perfectly possible that it does not contain anything of
substance that would allow a more clear cut decision to be made. All the
subterfuge being aimed at it all being a let down to those looking for
the smoking gun in order to take the wind out of their sails and have
the populace duped into thinking Mrs May was judged harshly thus gaining
her sympathy votes from waiverers.
Open government is a myth; I am currently at loggerheads with my
local authority over a safeguarding issue which, although straight
forward, has been the subject of obfuscation and prevarication and
downright dishonesty by the powers that be, They are even claiming a
straight forward freedom of information request has possible
confidentiality dimensions which would prevent release of the information.

Visit Topic or reply to this email to respond.

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Trust in politicians and governments may provide peace of mind but can
also produce a false sense of security. Citizens’ access to knowledge of
public affairs, and the ability of electorates to supervise, moderate
and if need be censure politicians – in between as well as at elections
– are important features of good governance.

Once political parties, and persons who may become ministers, MPs or
local councillors, have been elected then there are woefully inadequate
checks and balances on their actions or inactions and on their
performance in office. Some remain attentive to the needs and wishes of
the people, many follow the demands of their paymasters or simply pursue
their own interests.

In the UK this state of affairs is buttressed by the dogma that,
although we are supposed to have democracy, the people and electorate do
not hold political and state power. Rather this power, state
“sovereignty”, is said to belong to Parliament. To make this “spin”
sound grander and to discourage citizens from questioning it, the
highest power in the land has been dubbed “queen in parliament”. Which
miserable churl would dare to challenge the power of a monarch?

The above picture of a ruling élite and a powerless citizenry has of
course been modified over recent centuries, for instance by the
influence which local party members can have on their MP and by the
nervous attention paid by some politicians to trends in public opinion.
But the reality, that, below, there are the ruled masses and above, the
groups who are entitled to govern, prevails. Worse, associated attitudes
and behaviours, left overs of aristocracy, notions and effects of
“class” and “station”, these sour and poison relations among people,
groups and populations of different backgrounds and localities.

What can be done to promote better democracy and to create a more even
“playing field” for people of different backgrounds and degrees of
wealth, privilege?

Most important is that citizens as individuals and in co-operating
groups claim and try to exercise greater political power.

We can aim to better supervise and control our publicly employed
political workers (“representatives”, MPs, councillors). Much can be
done in local and central governance if citizens push stronger for
rights to effectively take part in governing, planning and decision
making. This must not be limited to “participation”, “consultation”, or
“citizens’ juries” but must enable the citizenry and electorate to
intervene in public matters if they choose to. Electorates must demand
and take the power of public proposal (initiative) and the right to
demand and obtain a legally binding ballot of the whole electorate
(“binding referendum”, “plebiscite” = decision by the people). (This
must not mean that all functions of parliament and government shall be
taken over by the “demos” – the people. It means that although people of
a political unit assign a governing task to a group of politicians
nevertheless they the people retain the right and ability to intervene
if and when they decide to do so: to propose new or “forgotten”
policies; to veto bad or unwanted proposals of parliament, government,
civil service or other body; to dissolve council or parliament.) MPs and
governments work for us. We should let them do only until they may need
supervision or correction.

Comments are welcome.

Wallace-Macpherson

Citizens’ Initiative and Referendum I&R ~ GB
http://www.iniref.org/ Link to site index
http://www.iniref.org/steps.html Basic presentation
Contact: info@iniref.org


(John Alexander McFadyen) #11

I agree with Wallace Macpherson, Perhaps we need to elect citizen guardians for MPs (Guardians of Open Democracy-G.O.O.D.) who performance monitor them against an agreed outcomes framework and who have legally binding powers, The question arises; who performance manages the guardians?