FOI offers the radical change needed

This week I read the results of a poll conducted by the Taxpayers Alliance. One of the key findings is that the public holds politicians and the current political system in contempt:

“All debate about alternatives is tainted by this general contempt and hopelessness: people cannot imagine any political force that reverses decline since they see politicians as a self-serving elite with a total grip that cannot be broken.”

If politicians and public servants are serious about reconnecting with the public then they must ditch their snobbish and condescending attitudes and start sharing power and knowledge with the public. I cannot count the number of times I have come across public servants who think their only obligation toward members of the public is to take our money. Public officials routinely refuse to publish line-item budgets, detailed expenses, contact details and in many cases even refuse to divulge their names!

This is simply unacceptable in a democracy. Here’s a suggestion for any public body concerned about its plummeting reputation – start answering all FOI requests in full and holding open meetings where the public have a say.

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