Archive for May 19th, 2009

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Is there a danger that democracy is being undermined?

Over the past week or so, The Telegraph has drip fed revelation after revelation about MP expense excesses; whipping up a frenzy of public ridicule and even a degree of hatred for those who have most abused the system. Bloggers, including myself, have had a bit of sport and that is fair enough – but there are dangers that democracy is being undermined by this fiasco and, certainly, the pressure on the PM, ministers and members of parliament, is such that one wonders whether the business of actually running the country, running the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan et al, is suffering.

Guido Fawkes has suggested that people can punish MPs in the forthcoming elections by voting for fringe parties; suggesting the Green Party, Libertas and UKIP as possible alternatives. I do not know if he is being serious, or care that much. I’m certainly not going to vote for these parties simply because I am not persuaded by their ability to run the country any better than the present crew. For my part, the leaders of the three principal parties have to sort the mess out and put their houses and the House in order.

Last night I talked to Tom Harris MP, the Labour MP for Glasgow South, who gave direct and thoughtful answers to my questions about the expenses issue, The Speaker’s position, whether we will get an early general election – as David Cameron has called for and the ‘public’ (whoever they are) have called for. The podcast is 20 minutes long and if you have the time and inclination it is worth listening to.

One thing is certain – and MPs are falling over themselves to apologise and agree – change must come; but we must have in place a system of sensible, realistic and adequate remuneration and reimbursement for expenses wholly, necessarily and exclusively related to the important work MPs do if we are to have a viable Government and Opposition made up of men and women with the intellect, the experience and the spirit to run the country on our behalf.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has stated that he is prepared to investigate cases of wrongdoing and it may be, in time, that those who have broken the rules with outright fraud, as opposed to a misinterpretation of what appears to have been a rulebook based on what Tom Harris calls a ‘culture of entitlement’, will be held to account.

We shall see. Do listen to the podcast with Tom Harris MP (Below), whatever your political persuasion, if you have the time – he makes some good and measured points

Editor pick of the day
19th May 2009

Head of Legal: The Speaker – wholly inadequate

Geeklawyer: Geeklawyer speaks: The Speaker must go
“… it looks as though an ex-SAS hero may have been crucial as an intermediary in spilling the beans on the expenses horror.”

Mike SP

On this day… 19th May

1536 Anne Boleyn , the second wife of Henry VIII of England , is beheaded for adultery , treason , and incest .

1649 – An Act declaring England a Commonwealth is passed by the Long Parliament . England would be a republic for the next eleven years

1568 – Queen Elizabeth I of England has Mary Queen of Scots arrested.

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