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The UK’s Transparency Agenda

Transparency Agenda

Back in 2009, George Osborne declared: “We have to be open and transparent with the people we serve.” And shortly after taking office, in 2010, he announced:

“We have already begun to implement the most radical transparency agenda the country has ever seen.”

Perhaps no one has described this transparency agenda in more radical terms than the Prime Minister himself, David Cameron. On September 11th, 2010, in an article in the Observer, Cameron declared:

“For too long those in power made decisions behind closed doors, released information behind a veil of jargon and denied people the power to hold them to account. This coalition is driving a wrecking ball through that culture – and it’s called transparency…”

For Cameron, it’s not just a new era of transparency, it’s nothing short of a “transparency revolution” – as he said in a podcast in May 2010, shortly after taking office:

“I want to get on with it, to make a start on this transparency revolution that we’re planning. In time, I want our government to be one of the most open and transparent in the world.”

It’s a revolution that will rescue the damaged relationship between people and politics – as Cameron says: “transparency can help us to re-build trust in our politics.”

Part of this radical transparency revolution must be to reform the relationship between the world’s most opaque, press-shy and unaccountable lobbying event – the Bilderberg conference – and the public. It cannot continue as it is. Especially not in 2013, when the conference is being held in Britain. For as Cameron said earlier this year, in his speech about the EU referendum:

“Britain is characterised not just by its independence but, above all, by its openness.”

Kenneth Clarke MP agrees: “In the UK we are great enthusiasts for transparency.” Back in February 2012, Kenneth Clarke – then the Secretary of State for Justice – made an important speech to G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group. He stated:

“This is a world in which government transparency is not only possible but demanded and required.”

“Transparency is the most effective public inoculation against corruption that any country can have. There is a strong public interest case for almost all government information to be open to scrutiny.”

And in this drive towards transparency, as Clarke insists: “real action is what counts, not empty words.”