How many times can the Tories flip flop in the same policy document?

I have been intrigued by the talk from John Redwood and the Conservative policy process about scrapping the Data Protection Act and associated legislation.

This sounds like it could be a very explosive proposal, because, although “data protection” is wrongly invoked to justify all sorts of bureaucratic silliness, just think of some of the many good things the data protection regime lets you do at the moment:

  • Want to stop a company from selling on personal data you’ve given it?
  • Want to stop a firm using details you’ve given them to keep on trying to contact you to sell more goods?
  • Want to find out what records a government department has on you?
  • Want to force someone to correct wrong records about you?

For all these – and many other examples – you could invoke the data protection regime at the moment. So what is it that the Conservatives are proposing?

Well, here’s the puzzle – their own policy review document keeps on changing its mind from page to page.

Do they want to scrap the act? Page 58 says so – “we recommend the repeal of this expensive bureaucracy”.

Or do they just want to review it? Well, that’s what page 159 says, listing it under “legislation that should be included in an urgent review.” Not sure why you need a review if you have already decided to repeal it?

Or then again, do they neither want to repeal it nor need to review it because they’ve made up their minds how to amend it? Well that’s what page 176 suggests, listing specific proposals for changing that act in a section on legislative “candidates for reform, through amendment or consolidation”.

But then again, in another part of page 176 the Conservatives only “strongly suspect it would be possible to reform the Act.”

Thank goodness that page 178 doesn’t introduce fifth variation on the policy, but simply reverts back to the policy of page 159.

But even so, four different policies on the same piece of legislation in just one policy paper is pretty good going isn’t it?

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