Wednesday, 20 November 2013

THE TRADE UNIONS & THE BLACKLISTING

So David Cameron has launched an inquiry into the trade unions and the blacklisting. This is long overdue.

I don't need to go over old ground, as everything they need to know about Unite covering up the blacklisting back in 2005/2006 to protect their financial arrangements with the construction companies is detailed on this website.

There is more to come following a recent SAR data protection act  request by me to Unite.

One thing that has stood out to me is the appointment of Bruce Carr QC to head up this inquiry.

Carr is from Devereux Chambers, who also house ex 'Director of Legal Services' at Unite, Georgina Hirsch as a Barrister.

GEORGINA HIRSCH 

I'll save what I have linking Hirsch to Derek Simpson for the inquiry, but have raised the point about a possible conflict of interests to the Chambers and the powers that be.

All may be fine with this business relationship between the two barristers, but I'm just throwing this out there as it would be a pity if this inquiry was delayed any further by a legal technicality.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

TEMPLATE POLITICS - Part 3

In parts 1 and 2 we establish that Jo Swinson and Vince Cable are simply banging out identical template response letters to constituents who've raised legitimate concerns about being blacklisted via their MP's.

This is disturbing, but what is even more disturbing is that the Department for Business Innovation and Skills hold large amounts of hard copy material off site in relation to the Blacklisting that will never be searched, as they have an exemption under Section 12.

Section 12 - Buried For Ever

The following document is a response from the department to FOI request 13/0549. I do not know the source.

FOI 13/0549 (Pg1)

FOI 13/0549 (Pg2)

On page 2 they respond by saying:

"Some years ago the then officials working on this and similar policy stored large amounts of data off-site which covers the period".

They then go on to cite Section 12 as their reason for not searching through and providing information from this.

What this means is that this large amount of hard copy information stored off site is buried for ever.

It's as simple as that, as any request for any document held in this "stored large amount of hard copy data" would result in them having to search the entire stash. This provides them with an exemption under 'Section 12' as it would cost more than the 'one person taking 3.5 days' as stated in their response to 13/0549 and most probably every other FOI response.

Therefore, buried for ever.

Section 35(1)(a) - Buried For Ever

Another exemption being used and detailed on page 2 of this FOI request is titled the 'Formation of Government Policy'.

What this means is that the department can decide to withhold anything they like without providing any explanation or reason.

Summary

So what is the point of having a Freedom of Information Act when a Government department like this can bury so much data? 

Monday, 11 November 2013

TEMPLATE POLITICS - Part 2

In the previous post I've demonstrated the farcical process of template politics by Vince Cable and Jo Swinson at the Department of Business Innovation & Skills.

They have both quite simply been processing identical template response letters to legitimate correspondence from constituents who had raised concerns about being blacklisted via their MP's.

This is how it works

1. Constituents raise concerns about blacklisting with their MP's.

2. The MP's communicate these concerns to Government Ministers and in one of the examples provided, The Home Secretary, Theresa May.

3. Vince Cable and Jo Swinson respond with identical template response letters.

4. The MP's forward the identical template response letters to their constituents.

5. End of story...

I've provided 15 - 20 cross party examples from a selection of MP's including the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne who all received the exact same template response letter from either Cable or Swinson.

Swinson to Cable - Template Letter

What's even more disturbing and deserved of it's very own post here is that on 12 February 2013, Swinson writes to Cable using the very same identical template response letter they'd both been sending out to MP's.

SWINSON TO CABLE LETTER - 12 FEB 2013 (Pg1) 

SWINSON TO CABLE LETTER - 12 FEB 2013 (Pg2) 

Cable had received an email from a constituent on the evening of 23 January 2013 following the debate in the House that afternoon.

CABLE TO CABLE EMAIL - 24 JAN 2013

This was forwarded to Cable at the Department for Business Innovation & Skills on 24 January 2013 and Swinson responds to Cable with the standard template response letter on 12 February 2013.

You just couldn't make this stuff up.

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