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Saturday, February 05, 2005

Digging for victory

The Guardian reports today that all of the political parties are using the new Freedom of Information Act to dig for dirt against their opponents in time for the General Election. Reference is made to Norman Lamb's success in getting a list of those who have dined at Chequers but this seems to be tame compared to some of the other requests.

Labour diggers are trying to discover if Mr Howard fast-tracked a passport for a family friend when he was home secretary. They are also seeking the help of gay campaigners to uncover Mr Howard's record on section 28, the notorious clause banning the "promotion" of homosexuality in schools.

In the other corner, the Tories have their own targets. A Tory press release, being circulated by Labour, lists questions submitted by Mr Lewis including: "When was Gordon Brown told that Tony Blair wanted a third term and what was his reaction?"

Mr Lewis also wants to know "what the government really thinks" about the Butler and Hutton inquiries, if there was a cover-up over the foot-and-mouth epidemic and other "unsavoury and embarrassing" incidents.

The leaked Labour memo suggests that a former minister, Peter Kilfoyle, was being encouraged to pursue inquiries about the release of a relative of Mr Howard who had been charged with drug offences.

No wonder people are put off politics. Perhaps if we all concentrated on debating the issues and less on the personalities concerned we might encourage voters to turn out and vote.

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