Britain's civil service has decided to delay the publication of farm subsidy payments until after this Thursday's (6 May) general election. The deadline for publishing the data outlining who received what under the EU's common agricultural policy (CAP) was midnight last Friday.It is, indeed, standard procedure to hold back with the publication of any controversial material that might affect voting. At least in theory, the British civil service cannot be seen to take part in party politicking.
A message on the UK's Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) website simply says: "Due to the general election campaign, this website will not be updated with the 2009 figures until after the election."
UK officials said the practice is standard procedure. "It is not appropriate for us to publish this information at this point on the basis that some of the details may refer to people standing for election," Defra spokesman Paul Leat told this website.
"It could be seen to be favouring the ruling party of specific individuals," he added.
Understandably, the European Commission does not see matters that way. Election? What has that to do with the EU?
The European Commission said it was unhappy, however. "The commission is disappointed and is going to write to the British authorities underlining that this is not in line with the directive," said EU agriculture spokesman Roger Waite.Quite right, too. Can't have all this democracy interfering with our management.