Whereas Guy Fawkes failed to blow up parliament, a woman succeeded in doing so. Heather Brooke is the journalist who had the unprecedented cheek to question the expenses of MPs. By doing this, she managed to blow up 649 fraudsters in the Commons including all cabinet ministers and the complete shadow government.
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 her diligent enquiries showed up a well oiled system of being blocked off, diverted, and lied to by the Speaker (these days that 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 of information due to the taxpayer.
Heather Brooke is an 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 outmanoeuvred time and again by ever more wily diversions.
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 a state secret.
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. After numerous digs under the freedom of information act (was there ever was a more ironic name for a law?) 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 Defence. 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.
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 non-attendance). 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). 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).
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 criticising parliament again, as only the truly blind may overlook its clear statements of fact.