FOI campaigner Heather Brooke to write book on elitism in government

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Prof Heather Brooke will write a new book on elitism in government after her research revealed that Britain is not “a fully functioning democracy”.

She received a doctorate in journalism from City in January 2017 and used research gathered in her previous journalistic work and three publications – Your Right to Know (2004), The Silent State (2010) and The Revolution Will Be Digitised (2011) – for her hypothesis, which found that Britain is not very democratic.

This research will form the basis of Prof Brooke’s new book on elitism and democracy. She told XCity Plus: “People want to know more. They look at Parliament and think: ‘It doesn’t represent the public’s interests, it represents the Parliamentarians’ interests’.”

The book will examine democratic institutions around the world that are reforming their governance. Prof Brooke plans to report on cities and states – including Iceland, which attempted to rewrite its constitution between 2010 and 2013 – with the help of 950 citizens selected at random.

“I think this is where we are going to find the next iteration of democracy,” she said. “There needs to be a way to bring more inclusivity to institutions. We need to radically reform our democratic institutions to make them more fundamentally democratic.”

Freedom of Information requests Prof Brooke submitted to various public bodies in the UK showed that it was difficult for citizens to gain access to public information. Her request for MPs’ expenses receipts in 2004 was met with opposition by the House of Commons, which refused to release them. Prof Brooke consequently took the Commons to the High Court, which ruled the MPs should publish them.

She said: “Britain has a veneer of democratic rhetoric, but when citizens actually try and see government being done they don’t have access to information. My hypothesis was that we are not really an informed electorate and, therefore, we can’t be a fully functioning democracy.”

 

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