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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long Live Freedom?
This book is by the American (I think) lady journalist who blew open the UK Parliament's expenses scandal and one had to wonder where were all those highly-paid "political experts" on BBC, press etc, who seemed to be willing to cooncur with the freeloading and outright fraud of our so-called "democratic representatives". Heather Brooke is heroic and deserves more...
Published on 20 Aug. 2010 by Ian Millard

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tabloid polemic, possibly true, but unsupported by evidence. Disappointing
Heather Brooks has established her reputation by exposing the MP's expenses scandal, and she makes serious and worrying criticisms of the way we are governed, and the way politicians and civil servants misuse and manipulate information. She argues that the public are entitled to transparency and openness about how money is spent, and how decisions are made, and that the...
Published on 23 Jun. 2011 by sceptic


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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 21 Aug. 2013
By 
Charles - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Silent State: Secrets, Surveillance and the Myth of British Democracy (Paperback)
This book is written by journalist Heather Brooke, she is most famous for exposing the MPs' expenses scandal.
It is about how the government collects internal statistics then lies and misrepresents them to the general public, and then has the nerve to charge us for the information.

The author believes that a healthy democracy needs people to be able to get details on what the government is doing so we can see what they are up to with our money, which hopefully would stop them lying to us.

Examples of government lying and information hiding are giving for local council, the courts, police, statistics fiddling, government PR, the aforementioned MP expenses scandal and other things.

One example is how the statistics on road safety showed a drop in accidents since speed cameras and speed humps have been introduced suggesting that they do prevent road accidents, but unfortunately it turns out the drop was because the government got the police to record traffic accidents differently and in fact the number of people admitted to hospitals from traffic accidents has not fallen suggesting speed cameras/humps make no difference and are a waste of taxpayers' money.

Another example was a case of a women that complained to the council about vandalism and the council branded her a potentially violent person for allegedly shouting at them. There was no evidence and the women was not given a chance to tell her side of the story. Been labeled potentially violent resulted in her having to withdraw her application to be a foster-parent. She ended up suing the council for libel and won.

The most jaw dropping of the lot was when the book's writer used a freedom of information request to get MP's expenses, the government actually heavily censored the information but one of the people doing the censoring leaked the uncensored version. The leaked uncensored version showed many MPs to be milking the expenses system and the resulting scandal caused resignations, sackings, de-selections, retirement announcements, public apologies and the repayment of expenses. A few MPs/lords were even prosecuted and sentenced to jail.

This is an excellent book and is likely to make the reader very angry, my only complaint is that it lacks details and reads a bit like a tabloid paper but the quality of information is still good enough for five stars.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is there any hope?, 7 Mar. 2011
By 
Oldraver (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Silent State: Secrets, Surveillance and the Myth of British Democracy (Paperback)
This is a very accessible read. Full of stories that are familiar, with outcomes that are irrefutible. It's journalistic approach raises many questions and highlights the supine nature of the British electorate.

Others have suggested the exacting nature of the relationship between the 'authorities' of whatever colour and the people. Quite rightly there is a problem. For people to have died fighting for this country it is funny that we live in a fascist dictatorship - a complex myriad of powerful, unaccountable elites presided over by a prehistoric monarchy - the very thing the wars were about removing.

Realistically, is there any hope?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, 4 May 2012
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Great book. Not for bed time reading because it will leave you quite angry. Heather Brooke actually exposed the MP expenses scandal before The Daily Telegraph got hold of it. This book explains other aspects of rather dubious government/bureacratic practices which does leave you feeling rather peeved at the lack of transparency in some quarters in this country.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A REAL EYE OPENER!!!, 23 Feb. 2013
By 
David J. Hayward (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Silent State: Secrets, Surveillance and the Myth of British Democracy (Paperback)
This book will really open your eyes to all the double speak and PR rubbish you are bombarded with on a daily basis. This book will let you look behind the curtain at all the truth that the governments do not want you to see, and show you how the state uses it's population to serve it's own means and keep you in the dark.
I loved it, and like Nick Cohen's offerings, could not put it down.

From databases and I.D. cards through to billions spent on PR and bureaucracy for it's own sake and to exert power over the population. This book lifts the lid on the sham that is government for tthe people, and how they maintain control by controling who sees what, and making us pay over and over for our own supression and deceipt.
The real cost of all this is the apathy of the population, loss of true freedom, and our future in the hands of greedy corrupt corporations.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Complacency Check, 25 Feb. 2011
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This review is from: The Silent State: Secrets, Surveillance and the Myth of British Democracy (Paperback)
This is a very readable book and essential reading for anyone who cares about real democracy in this country. One of the critical assets of a modern, democratic state is access to knowledge since this equates to power. Heather Brooke demonstrates, painfully, how far from that goal we are - indeed, the process seems to be in reverse - more secretive and culturally anti-democratic. It should give pause for thought that it takes an individual raised in the United States to show us what a hidebound, reactive, culture we sustain in this country. We should "bring home the revolution" as Jonathan Freedland urged in 1998!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Britain isn't a true democracy. Read this and find out why, 10 Feb. 2011
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This review is from: The Silent State: Secrets, Surveillance and the Myth of British Democracy (Paperback)
I ordered this book last Thursday (4 Feb 2011) and it arrived on the Monday afternoon via the post. I am quite a slow reader (By that, on average it may take me 2 weeks to read a book), but I have finished the book already. It was hard to put down!

Are you asking yourself, who is watching you, and who really pulls the strings? Is Government released data to the public honest and reliable? How much data can the public view? If we pay tax, surely it is fair that we see data and records collected on our behalf?

Well, this book pretty much answers them sort of question's. Heather Brooke tells us who and which instition's are watching us, Government funded Propaganda and spin on statistics, data and targets. She also slams Britain's bad and faceless bureaucracy, as well as the rotten Justice system and the Police.

The final chapter in this book, Brooke goes into more detail about the MP's expenses scandal. As a Freedom of Information (FoI) activist, she also played a big part in the expenses scandal, which to this day still angers the people of this country.

Overall, a great book to read, and it will show you how rotten our so-called "democracy" is and how far away we are from a true democratic society.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Big brother is watching you...., 23 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: The Silent State: Secrets, Surveillance and the Myth of British Democracy (Paperback)
Not sure why I brought this really. I was probably feeling paranoid and wanted reassurances that big brother wasn't watching me. Well it was really interesting and made me open my eyes to what a strange country we live in. Confirmed my worse suspicions that politicians are only in the job for their own personal gain. I have lent my copy to my brother so probably won't ever get it back! We need more journalists like Heather Brooke and less like that lot at the news of the world who hack peoples phones.
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44 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb. Will enrage anyone who works for a living, 13 April 2010
By 
Emteq "Emteq" (Down where the drunkards roll) - See all my reviews
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Tax, HIPs, road tax, stealth tax, VAT, £30 fine for dropping on apple core etc. etc.

Everyone who works for a living in Britain will know that the State is finding ever more ways to take money off us at pain of being capriciously criminalised.

Brooke shows us just a part of how our money is squandered in the public sector, most shamelessly by our flipping useless MPs, at least 20 of whom should be in jail. Instead their pockets are handsomely lined from any number of fiddles and scams they used every underhand trick to hide.

That's just the tip of the iceberg, equally scandalous waste, cover-ups and vindictiveness are revealed in Councils, Justice, Police etc. etc.

If Brooke turned her attention to our benefits culture and the socialist EU Commission, then we'd know a lot about why Britain has been bankrupted over the last 13 years.
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21 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a let down, 18 Aug. 2010
By 
Marand - See all my reviews
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I had first came across Heather Brooke as a result of her sterling efforts in relation to MP's expenses. I am sympathetic to her viewpoint. Having been impressed by her previous efforts I was cheered also with the following comment right at the beginning of the book:

"I tried to rein in my righteousness, which I notice is the danger of these types of books. Instead, I hope the numerous stories I narrate will do more than any righteous rant to illustrate the farcical hypocrisies and absurdities of our current situation."

Did she succeed in reining in her righteousness? Sadly, no. I was very disappointed as this book just seemed to become a shrill rant, and I felt at times that it took aim at the wrong, or rather less important, things. I also felt that she over-stated her case in many instances and provided no, or insufficient evidence, for some of her assertions.

One of the targets in Ms Brooke's sights is local government spin. I have to say her attack seemed to me to suggest she isn't able to differentiate between publicity and PR, propaganda & information. She takes issue with local government magazines & newspapers which she sees as vehicles for 'spin' particularly if they say how well the council is doing in providing value for money, etc.. My local council produces a twice yearly newspaper which I find useful and informative. They also have an excellent website. I don't think it is unreasonable for a council to include information showing how they provide value for money, particularly when, as Tower Hamlets head of commercial operations is quoted as saying, local papers 'churn out a negative diet of crime and grime, often attacking their local council and generally creating a negative impression'. I don't live anywhere near Tower Hamlets but our local papers are just like that. Again it is not unreasonable that councils should try to provide their side of the story.

The attack on local government 'spin' also revealed some 'spinning' on Ms Brooke's part. She wrote: "It should come as no surprise that a recent survey ...showed the public's satisfaction with their council went down from 53 to 45 per cent as PR spending rocketed." It wasn't clear to me whether the survey indicated any causal relationship so I googled it (she didn't provide details of where it could be found - so much for transparency). The survey was published in the Local Government Communications report entitled "Proving Communications Work". It is interesting to note that the organisation that conducted the survey had an explanation for the reduction in satisfaction: the nature of the questioning was different, so much so that the Audit Commission has stated that the results for the two years in question were not comparable. Given that the paragraph revealing the statistics was immediately followed by the paragraph explaining the reduction, it is hard to believe Miss Brooke wasn't also aware of the reason - so she is guilty either of shoddy journalism (unlikely given her track record) or of selective reporting which makes her sweeping comments and decrying of 'spin' somewhat hypocritical.

Ms Brooke is particularly exercised by the fees charged to access information that she says has been compiled by the state using taxpayer funds, with most of her spleen vented on the costs of accessing post code information and Ordnance Survey maps. I couldn't quite see her point here - as a member of the public I can access such data and frankly I don't have a problem with the state charging organisations that are going to exploit the information commercially for access to the databases.

Ms Brooke also criticises the justice system, again in part because of the cost of accessing court transcripts & documents. Once more, for me she over-states her case. Her argument is that such charges, and the fact that courts don't throw down the red carpet to the public, means that justice isn't seen to be done. I just don't get this - I do not need, nor do I have the time, to physically attend court or to pore over court transcripts. For me, and dare I say it for most people, the concept of justice being seen to be done is that offenders are brought to court and punished. We don't need to be there. Worse still is that perhaps one of the most appalling aspects of our justice system, that trials can be held in private with the defendants & their lawyers having no access to the evidence against them, is barely mentioned - just two lines in the book. This is a far more important matter in relation to the judicial system than the cost of court transcripts or the fact that seats for the public in our courts aren't that comfortable.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good start - where's the rest of it?, 16 Sept. 2011
By 
Mr. J. Hudson - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Silent State: Secrets, Surveillance and the Myth of British Democracy (Paperback)
THE SILENT STATE
It's like reading a big book where most of the juicy bits have been censored. Many of the people who read this book, will follow this sleazy stuff in the newspapers; so we know there's a lot of stuff missed out. The information in this book is okay as far as it goes; lots of excellent examples of sleazy government attitudes towards the public: where's the rest?
Why is it like this; who is driving this from the top? Where is the top? Too much of the book is low-key comments and ranting and raving. The author never really ventures to the centre of the problem; the links between big business and politicians.
There should be a chapter at the end which says `I'd like to tell you about this, but they won't let me'. If this is all the author is allowed to comment about, then our system really is screwed.
"Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely". If this was quoted in the book, I missed it. It says, `give people power and they will become corrupted by it'. You need safeguards to prevent the privileged becoming corrupt; where are they? They don't exist; draw your own conclusion as to how trustworthy government officials are if they need to hide behind so much secrecy.
`If you've got nothing to hide'; what a joke.
Throughout the book the author rants about the data is collected using Taxpayer's Money and therefore belongs to the people; no it isn't : Tax is collected using a system of `demanding money with menaces'. Our elected dictators delight in telling us (just AFTER an election) that the money belongs to the government and is nothing to do with the citizen. In fact by demanding it in the way that they do, the money belongs to them before you even hand it over.
`British courts are in danger of becoming the secret enclave of the rich and powerful'; they always were: nothing has changed here. Agatha Christie stories are an excellent example of what the `good old days' were really like.
But hey folks, you voted for these people; if you don't like it; change your vote. But people are too lazy to do that so `thank you to the voting public for continually voting for a fraudulent system'.
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