Wednesday, 5 May 2010

What have they got to hide?

"Whitehall’s censorship of farming subsidies spares Tories (and UKIP’s) blushes"

Over the bank holiday weekend senior civil servants running the country took an extraordinary decision to ban the public from seeing information because they thought it was so controversial that it would disrupt election campaigning.

They decided to protect candidates from being asked questions on the issue and thought it best the public be left in ignorance about the facts.

What was this issue? Not some horrendous economic figure, some real facts on immigration. No, it was decision not to reveal which farmers and agribusinesses scooped up some £3 billion from the taxpayer from EU farm subsidies last year.

On Friday statistics were published simultaneously in the other 26 EU countries revealing who had been paid what – it is part of a victory by European journalists to force countries under freedom of information acts to release all this previously secret information.

But in London – against an EU directive - the information was banned. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website says: “Due to the general election campaign, this website will not be updated with the 2009 figures until after the election.”

A letter from a DEFRA official to Jack Thurston, head of farmsubsidy.org, which campaigns for transparency for EU payments, says why:

“This decision reflects the need to maintain, and be seen to maintain, the impartiality of the UK Civil Service, given the potential risk that CAP payment information relating to any individuals involved in the election might be used as part of election campaigning.”

So who does this protect? Initial research by farmsubsidy.org reveals that possibly up to 70 of the 650 Tory candidates standing at the election could be receiving some sort of subsidy. Up to half a dozen UKIP candidates- who campaign against the EU- could be receiving EU cash as well as a smattering of Liberal Democrat and BNP candidates. On the Tory side they have discovered that the declared postcode for receipt of EU subsidies is often the same one as used by a local Conservative Association, suggesting that leading officials of the local parties are also receiving subsidies. These are all taken from the previous year’s subsidy figures.

Yet we won’t know, thanks to Whitehall, until after the election- even though the EU has made it clear in an article in the EU Observer today that it is disappointed with Britain and intends to write to the new government pointing out it is not in line with the EU directive.

Source and full article at David Hencke's Website

If I am to vote for UKIP, then someone had better explain pretty bloody quickly why they are hiding this information from us.

5 comments:

  1. Revealing the size of the trough would be to UKIPs political advantage and to the disadvantage of all the pro-EU parties which is why I guess it's being suppressed. But for individuals I can't see the problem.

    I'm committed to wanting out of the EUSSR. But as a farmer if someone said...here's some money, take it or leave it, I'd sign up for as much as I can get without the slightest shame. It's my business - and I have a duty to my family and employees to maximise profit. If you want to introduce a political calculation I'd argue that as net EU contributors all I'm doing is getting a reduced proportion of my own money back.

    Would the BBC voluntarily turn down their grant from the EU? Would a council? Or a charity? No? Then I'll take mine too, cheers, would be my attitude.

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  2. It's the secrecy that pisses off quite frankly. Even the EU has said that this information should be released. How are we expected to trust any party with this sort of deceit going on?

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  3. Completely agree with that. If even the EU think we should know then there's an ulterior motive locally to be sure.

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  4. Sue,

    As ASE says it would be to UKIP's advantage that this information is disclosed. Methinks the decision has been made with the agreement of the Lib/Lab/Con parties.

    Keep the faith lass!

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  5. WfW. Thanks. I am hanging in there. I haven't changed my mind, I'm just a little disappointed but I guess they have their reasons.

    UKIP is still our best chance for a democracy.

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