There was an interesting development a few weeks back when the government decided to reduce the amount of time that passes before confidential papers are released from 30 years to 20 years. However, documents relating to the royal family will be exempt*.

This is all well and good as far as it goes you might think, but let’s think about the general mentality.

The justice ministry were quoted in the Guardian as saying…

“Compared to a reduction to 15 years, a 20-year rule substantially reduces the risk of both ministers and officials being distracted from their current roles by the release of information on significant decisions which they took earlier on in their careers,” said the justice ministry.

Ok, got it. So the thinking is that if (possibly) unfiltered information about what ministers and civil servants had done previously could come out when they are still in office, this means they wouldn’t be able concentrate on what they were doing now properly.

Stop for a moment and ask yourself why that would be.

One of the good motivations for it could be that the officials might be seen to be compromised if they were working for one administration with a certain policy and then working for the next administration who try to implement an opposite policy. Is there a conflict of interest there? Another motive is the catch-all “national security” excuse which they seem to apply to everything.

I don’t think you need me to spell out what the more nefarious motives for it could be.

Is it possible though, to think of all of this as just another proof of how badly governments tend to do their jobs? The most striking and visible aspect of this is the enormous level of security that surrounds politicians, prime ministers, presidents etc. I don’t deny that some of them need that protection as there are quite a lot of lunatics out there. But is it not a fair question to ask that if they really were doing their jobs well would they constantly need a massive level of protection? Would there be so many people with genuine grievances or so many loons…or even loons with genuine grievances?

For me, the physical security and the delay in publishing the documents for spurious reasons be it 20 years, 30 years or however many are just two different manifestations of the same problem. That problem is that they do their jobs abysmally and protect themselves from the consequences of that by whatever means.

Of course, with this ruling things have improved by 10 years (instead of the recommended 15) and it is a step in the right direction. Obviously though, one idea which was never on the table was telling the public what is going on now  without spinning it so many ways that no one can understand it, no one believes it or no one can be bothered with it. A lot of our (sic) representatives find talking to the public enough of a chore as it is, an informed public would just be an incredible bore for them.

Finally, I am not convinced about what we will learn from any particular released documents anyway. If you want an explanation of why then watch the vid. It is 5 minutes long and all on topic but the bit in particular starts around 3:20


*Lots to take issue with in this but that is another article.

“Of particular importance are the political impartiality of the monarchy, the sovereign’s right and duty to counsel, to encourage and to warn her government, as well as the right of the heir to the throne to be instructed in the business of government in preparation for the time when he will be King,” the justice ministry said.

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