The expenses scandal demonstrated three things: first, that British politicians can be dishonest, albeit in a petty way that genuinely corrupt political cultures would find quaint; second, that they can be idiotic, either in their stubborn refusal to concede that there were any irregularities or their spineless acceptance of every criticism hurled; third, that they weren’t paid enough either to stop them ferreting for perks or to preclude the aforementioned morons infiltrating their number. I can’t see which of these three problems reducing ministerial salaries and increasing the price of salads in the Palace of Westminster will solve. Surely it will exacerbate the last two.
Read, as they say, the whole thing.
Frank Dobson spoke nothing but truth last month:
‘Be warned,’ he said, ‘the Lib Dems and the Tories have not abandoned party politics.’ There was, he alleged, a three-part strategy. When they had disposed of the Speaker, they would demand Gordon’s resignation. If they got that, they would demand an immediate general election on the grounds that we couldn’t have yet another Labour leader without an electoral mandate. ‘And anyone who thinks that an immediate general election would be of benefit to the people who voted us in, is not on this planet.’
From Chris Mullin’s excellent account of Westminster life during the surreal days of ‘well-paid people with expense accounts use them; remind me why we’re supposed to care’ [*]-gate.
[*] no, really don’t.
From the comments here:
Starting an illegal war and allowing the banks to ruin the economy, neither of those is sufficiently serious to bring down a government. But a couple of free dinners…
The original piece is interesting as well – the Telegraph smearing a couple of Lib Dem MPs, one for letting his daughter stay at his London flat (while neglecting to mention that he paid 1/3 of the flat’s cost to reflect the fact he was making personal use of it), and one for travelling around his enormous, 10%-of-Scotland constituency. The horror!
Incidentally, if I had to work on a permanent basis in two different locations hundreds of miles apart, damn right I’d expect my employer to pay for a second flat, and damn right I’d expect them to pay for decent furniture, a telly, and suchlike. Obviously that isn’t the case if the second site is only 15 miles away, and the deal shouldn’t be structured in a way that allows me to make money from property speculation – but there’s some serious baby-bathwater stuff going on with the MP expenses scandal.
In the same vein, see D-Notice’s plans to prevent anyone with kids from becoming an MP, by cutting base pay to gbp30,000 and not paying any expenses at all. I also like his plan to make all government departments junk Microsoft and move to the execrable OpenOffice: this is either a man who has not done anything serious with spreadsheets ever, or a man who’s trying to destroy the system from within…