Government Fraud and Cover Up

Whereas Guy Fawkes failed to blow up parliament, a woman succeeded in doing so if virtually. Heather Brooke is the journalist who had the unprecedented cheek to question the expenses of MPs (that's member of parliament). By doing this, she managed to blow up 649 fraudsters in the Commons including all cabinet ministers and the complete shadow government as well as several hundred in the Lords. Good show.

Normally, you would poke a stick into a hornet’s nest or open a can of worms. Journalist Heather Brooke was surprised that she poked a stick into a can of worms. Years of diligent research showed up a well oiled system of being blocked off, diverted, and lied to by the Speaker (these days that particular slug is called Lord Gorbals) and Commons officials. It takes something for taxpayers’ employees employed to check the spending of tax money to spend that selfsame money on withholding information due to the taxpayer. It is normally a criminal offence, but then we all know that politicians lie their way out of anything, and if they have to change the law to do it, so what?

Heather Brooke is American and therefore eminently gifted in wriggling out hidden information. Coming from a country where obfuscation by the government is at the highest level, she used all the tricks that a legal system run by second rate fraudsters offers to gain information, but found herself outmaneuvered time and again by ever more wily diversions. She must have felt very Washington DC in the process.

Truth will come out in time, and she kicked off the meanwhile well known expenses scandal, outing 649 MPs (and quite a few Lords) as expenses frauds, including David Cameron, Incapability Brown, and members from all parties currently represented in the Commons as well as in the European Parliament. But this story is actually only part of the book, she does even better overall.

She dissects and shows up the deep intrusion the British state is perpetrating on personal freedom and information. Whereas the new identity card will store a host of information on every individual to be used against them at any time convenient to those in power, the identities of the 186 employees gathering, administrating, and disseminating this information is classified as a state secret. How convenient is that?

She delves deeply into the 20,000 unnecessary staff in Whitehall to show them up as a truly fear inspiring secret cabal sworn to prevent the public from finding out what they are really doing (or is it rather 'not doing'). After numerous digs under the freedom of information act (was there ever was a more ironic name for a law intended to hinder public review of state fraud?) she unearthed that 161 persons are exclusively involved in arms deals with Saudi Arabia. That amounts to 40 percent of the employees of the Ministry of Defense. She didn't or couldn't unearth the information on how many are involved in arms deals with Zimbabwe, Iran, Somalia and North Korea, though. And she didn't publish their Swiss bank accounts for bribes, either.

She also tells the story of the persistent battle by MPs to keep their voting records a secret (as it also shows up their almost permanent absence from the job they are over-paid to do). It was a long struggle until the data was accessible on the website theyworkforyou.

With great sarcasm she constantly compares the openness and freedom of her native America with the secretiveness in Britain (leading impressionable readers to the conclusion that America is working on more freedom where she means more guile to cover up corruption). In reality, the whole book shows up the shortcomings of the republican system versus true democracy. It starkly points out the apartheid in Britain and the US (of the intelligent politicians versus the illiterate masses of voters purposefully kept in the dark by a dismal education system).

The Silent State by Heather Brooke was published by Heinemann. It is not only recommended reading, but actually compulsory reading before the next election. Whoever will still vote for a currently incumbent MP after reading this book should refrain from ever criticizing parliament again, as only the truly blind may overlook its clear statements of fact. And if you are not British and smugly read about this, just remember, your own fraudsters are sitting in what you might call Congress, or Senate, Bundesrat, Duma, or something similar.