Thursday 14 May 2009

MPs' Lost Authority

The BBC reporter says that people in nearby Scunthorpe are dismayed. Now this is normal, but what he means is that their MP has been found out, along with the mass of them, to have cheated the expenses system. Elliot Morley kept claiming for a mortgage on a home when he'd already paid off the mortgage. He has been stripped of membership of the Parliamentary Labour Party. It comes at the same time as married conservative MPs claimed different second homes (the second home ought to be the work home) so that they actually paid for none of them. They look to be in serious trouble. But these are just examples across a House of Commons that has by and large turned into a House of Con-ons.

What I want now is an (albeit small) list of MPs who have not fiddled the system, and current MPs on the make ought to resign as MPs and local parties select new candidates. Clear the lot of them out.

At present we know that the Labour Party in power has gone past the point where it can formulate, refine and execute policy with an agenda in mind. It is, in other words, clapped out, and Gordon Brown is worn out. There are particularly duff cabinet ministers, including the Home Secretary whose husband received porn films on these expenses.

With my benefits, I regularly have to justify what I do to be eligible, and recently the local council tried to cut mine, so I made an appeal through to external channels and won - it lost - and it now the council regards that episode as me declaring a change of circumstances. So I said to one operative that this is beginning to look like harassment. This is comparative pennies compared with how MPs have milked the system when they thought no one was looking, and now the Freedom of Information Act has found them out and spilled the beans. It is a bit like the legislation that stopped large donations to political parties, only to find they tried to fiddle the system by having loans that were never going to be paid back. Well they were hoisted on their own petard on that one and on this one. The Speaker of the House of Commons is angry in the wrong direction.

I even think an election might be called because authority has rushed out of the House of Commons. The Speaker, in defending the corruption and attacking the release of the information, is himself ridiculous but has allowed the leakage to become a rush. MPs are on the make. Never mind the government being clapped out: the legislature is morally bust. Now we even have members of the House of Lords in a cash for amendments scandal. Every single sitting MP will have their expenses fiddle on election literature - so either the local party gets rid of them first or we know who else to vote for.

Cameron has tried to look like action man because he (rightly) sees this could undermine his quest for power. Gordon Brown has limped along afterwards, in typical dithering worn out fashion. But there is a need for root and branch reform.

The root of this is the absence of ideology as a motivator for getting into Parliament, and a parallel loss of the public service ethic. Since Thatcher and Blair, it's all been about how much you can work the system and money rolling around doing the talking. With this credit collapse, and the need not only to live within means but to repay debt, what is now needed is a set-up of basic provisions and priorities on which people depend, largely state delivered and locally accountable, with only then the private sector being wealth making. There must be an end to the mortgaging to the private sector public sector provisions. Unfortunately this all comes at the end of the Labour period of rule, the party once of the left that became right wing, with an even more right wing Conservative Party wanting power. It's why I'll vote Liberal Democrat and hope many more do, simply as a means to get fundamental constitutional changes, to change the culture of Parliament and to shift out the dead wood. Labour, as a right wing party, have ended up forgetting its core principles, and in the process its MPs, along with others across all parties, have forgotten what public service is and have just decided to line their own pockets before the public chucks them out.

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