THE BLOG

The Tories Are Governing From the Shadows and This Week's Information Dump Proves It

20/12/2015 14:05 GMT | Updated 20/12/2016 10:12 GMT

While in opposition David Cameron famously claimed that "sunlight is the best disinfectant". But as 2015 draws to a close this will go down as the year when the Prime Minister's commitment to open and transparent government was finally abandoned.

As Parliament rose for Christmas recess the Tories slipped out no fewer than 36 ministerial statements and 424 reports and releases. And 'taking out the trash day', as this practice has come to be known, didn't fail to disappoint.

Buried within the deluge of information was the news that the cost of Special Advisers (including severance pay) in 2014-15 was £11.1 million - £4.3 million higher than the last year of the Labour Government.

The Tories once said there would a limit of two Special Advisers for each Cabinet Minister but it now turns out that 11 ministers have three or more Special Advisers. Even David Mundell, the Secretary of State for Scotland, has three SpAds - three times the number of Tory MPs there are in Scotland.

Meanwhile George Osborne has trebled the amount of money spent on his own special advisers over the last five years and also handed a 42% pay rise to his closest adviser. So much for 'all in this together'. The court of George Osborne now has 10 Special Advisers - all presumably buys on the upcoming Tory leadership campaign that kicks in fully following the EU referendum.

While the rhetoric and reality from the Tories on the cost of politics may be shameless the information released this week also revealed the appalling consequences of the Tories' disastrous polices.

Included in the releases was the publication of a report into the impact of the Tories' cruel and unfair Bedroom Tax - a report conveniently not published before the General Election. It revealed that 80% of people hit by the policy regularly run out of money by the end of the week or month.

Slipped out too were details of the billions of pounds of further cuts facing local councils next year as well as cuts to the police that make a mockery of the Tories' claims to have protected police budgets.

And from the Government that once said it wanted to be the greenest 'ever' came the news that funding for household solar panels is being cut by two-thirds. That's not just bad news for those concerned about climate change, it also puts at risk thousands of jobs in one of our key industries.

As my colleague Tom Watson set out in his speech on Friday David Cameron and his Tory Ministers are governing from the shadows and eroding the rights of the public and others to hold them to account. The information dump this week just confirmed this is the case. It was nothing more than a cynical attempt from the Tories to avoid scrutiny on some of their disastrous policies and their hypocritical behaviour.