openDemocracyUK

Death-watch beetles

Stuart Weir
2 January 2010

Perhaps I am unreasonably angry and disturbed on learning that academy schools are not open to public scrutiny through the freedom of information law. After all, it is a lapse that hardly measures up to the enormities and misdemeanours of recent executive activity. Academies are not going to bomb and invade other state schools and murder their teachers and pupils, nor will their staff torture their own pupils, not physically anyway. There are laws against such actions.

Yet it is a symptomatic reminder that the fabled 'flexibility' of our governing arrangements - that is, the wide expanse of executive discretion - makes a mockery of principle and due process. One of the great strengths of the new FOI regime - which was much trumpeted at the time of its introduction - was its comprehensive nature. Though with undesirable exceptions, freedom of information was spread right across the public domain. And rightly so - the right of access to public information is a significant part of freedom of expression. It is all to easy for ministers and officials to disregard such considerations and to exempt academies from scrutiny and possibly to plunge other areas of public activity into the dark - to nibble away, like death-watch beetles, within the old and new structures of democracy and constitutionality until they collapse entirely.

We stand for democracy – please support us

We work to investigate and illuminate the crisis of democracy in Britain – and analyse how its failings can be healed.

We bring together outsider voices and diverse opinions.

We do deep investigative journalism exposing the gap between politicians' rhetoric and action.

We publish on and from all the British nations while questioning the nature of the UK.

Unconstrained by party political loyalties, we ask how we as citizens can secure our liberty, human rights, self-government and real democracy.

                                                                                                                                                        
Who is bankrolling Britain's democracy? Which groups shape the stories we see in the press; which voices are silenced, and why? Sign up here to find out.

Comments

We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.
Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram