it’s a wonderful phrase, “freedom of information”, promising as it does unrestricted access for us all to the important decisions made by ministers and others in our name.
So how perverse is the response of Transport Scotland – approved, no doubt, by their government paymasters – to a request for details on trams under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act.
Specifically, the agency was asked about SNP cabinet secretary John Swinney’s decision to order its officials off the management board of the tram project in 2007.
This was a perfectly legitimate inquiry given that the scheme was already in trouble at the time and went on to crash totally out of control.
But apparently we cannot be trusted with the reasons why.
The release of 17 pages of heavily redacted documents would be laughable were it not so serious. It reeks of the sort of secrecy that surrounded the release of the first copies of MPs’ expenses – and just look where that lofty attempt at censorship ended.
As then, the blanked out lines, paragraphs and even entire pages prompt just one, simple question.
What have they got to hide?
The usual excuse trotted out for not trusting us – the taxpayers and voters – is that information is too sensitive to be released.
In this case, Transport Scotland also insists that exchanges between officials and ministers have to remain secret so the poor dears don’t feel restricted as they use their superior intellects to formulate policy. Aye, right.
This is a shameless attempt to pull the wool over our eyes on an issue on which there is a clear public right to know.
As such, it is also the clearest proof yet that we need a full public inquiry into the tram shambles, and we need it now.
Ring the changes
we were always against the idea of mounting the Olympic logo on the side of Edinburgh Castle next summer – but it is only now that the full scale of this bizarre enterprise is becoming clear.
Of course unveiling it as the fireworks are lit on Hogmanay will guarantee a spectacular picture opportunity for the Games organisers.
But then we are the ones who will be stuck with it for the next nine months. And questions have to be asked about exactly how much this stunt will be worth to Edinburgh.
If, like us, you think the price isn’t worth paying for the benefits it will bring, then let the city planners know by using the coupon on page three of today’s News.