Government cancels Parliamentary vote following internet campaign on MP's expenses

Early this week My Society urged us to write to our MP’s to insist that the new Freedom of Information Bill should not be used to conceal MP’s expenses.  I sent this to Lynne Jones:

I was really concerned this week to read reports in both left and right wing biased newspapers that parliament is moving to conceal the receipts for MP’s expenses, not simply from open public scrutiny but also from FOI requests.

To be confident that MP’s are spending public money fairly we need that process to fully transparent.  I do hope hope you will do everything you can to ensure that’s the case.

She replied:

I am not sure exactly what we are going to be asked to vote on as yet but I am opposed to special provisions that would exempt MPs from disclosures that other people in other public sector organisations have to make. So as to be accountable, I will put something on my website next week.

Today Tom Steinburg of mySociety tells us that their campaign has worked. Clay Sirky describes it as victory for transparency. Let me give you everything Tom says says:

The vote on concealing MPs’ expenses has been cancelled by the government!

In other words – we won!

This is a huge victory not just for transparency, it’s a bellweather for a change in the way politics works. There’s no such thing as a good day to bury bad news any more, the Internet has seen to that.

Over 7000 people joined a Facebook group, they sent thousands of emails to over 90% of all MPs. Hundreds of thousands of people found out about the story by visiting TheyWorkForYou to find something they wanted to know, reading an email alert, or simply discovered what was going on whilst checking their Facebook or Twitter pages. Almost all of this happened, from nowhere, within 48 hours, putting enough pressure on Parliament to force change.

Congrats – the internets and the mainstream media work together, plus of course the Conservative Party withdrawing their support for the Bill.

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