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Vol 23 No 5 May/June 2018

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The Politics of Freedom of Information: How and Why Governments Pass Laws That Threaten Their Power

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ISBN13: 9780719097676
Published: February 2017
Publisher: Manchester University Press
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Hardback
Price: £75.00

Despatched in 8 to 10 days.

Why do governments pass freedom of information laws? The symbolic power and force surrounding FOI makes it appealing as an electoral promise but hard to disengage from once in power. However, behind closed doors compromises and manoeuvres ensure that bold policies are seriously weakened before they reach the statute book.

This book examines how Tony Blair's government proposed a radical FOI law only to back down in fear of what it would do. But FOI survived, in part due to the government's reluctance to be seen to reject a law that spoke of 'freedom', 'information' and 'rights'. After comparing the British experience with the difficult development of FOI in Australia, India and the United States - and the rather different cases of Ireland and New Zealand - the book concludes by looking at how the disruptive, dynamic and democratic effects of FOI laws continue to cause controversy once in operation.

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Data Protection
1. Freedom of information: hard to resist and hard to escape
2. Freedom of information in the UK: from radical to inevitable
3. New Labour, new openness?
4. Your right to know: a symbolic victory
5. The draft bill: the retreat becomes a rout
6. FOI in parliament: asymmetric warfare
7. FOI in the UK: survival and afterlife
8. The US, Australia and India: two firsts and the greatest?
9. Ireland and New Zealand: a legacy and an assault from within
10. Freedom of information and the remaking of politics
Conclusion: why do governments pass FOI laws?