The expenses juggernaut continues apace. The public backlash is growing. MPs barracked on the BBC’s Question Time. “Robocop” Ray Mallon, mayor of Middlesborough, calling on the Metropolitan Police to investigate MPs’ expenses. Iain Dale reporting stories of canvassers being abused on doorsteps.
Politics itself is fast losing any good reputation it had. Those in politics are all being tarred with the same foul-smelling stain of abusing expenses.
Gordon Brown has been apologising for the system and saying that an independent committee will sort this issue out. What is he doing until then? Apart from trying to smile at interviewers and putting people watching off their food. David Cameron has stood up and followed his words with action. Show you’re open and honest, comply with the instructions of our investigation team or lose your place in the party. Gordon Brown had little alternative than to suspend Elliot Morley. Other than that he hasn’t provided any leadership.
Today showed yet again that this country has a “government” out of touch with the people it is supposed to serve.
Step forward Justice minister Shahid Malik:
Mr Malik insists he stuck “a million per cent by the rules”
Sir, you doth protest too much. As I have already said:
Arguments that claims were “not breaking the rules” don’t really cut the mustard. There is also a requirement of MPs (and anyone in professional life) to act ethically and in the spirit of the highest standards of conduct. Just because you didn’t break the rules doesn’t mean you didn’t drive a cart and horses through the spirit of those rules.
Back to Mr Malik:
He said the public “had a right to be angry and horrified” about what had emerged on expenses but he also rounded on the media, saying: “I think it’s really important that we try to draw a line behind this.
“Because this bloodfest has got to stop. We have got to move forward, otherwise we will have no democracy left. We will have decimated our democracy.
“And the thirst for blood from some elements of the media just seems like it’s unstoppable.”
Excuse me? MPs are public servants. It is citizens’ taxes that pay their salaries and expenses. Citizens have every right to hold their MPs completely accountable. It’s unfortunate that this whole issue has had to be exposed by a newspaper but it has been and rightly so. This is not demolishing democracy, it is exposing wastefulness and questionable judgement on the part of some MPs. You are all being held to account. Maybe that’s what you don’t like. If you are a public servant then you must be completely accountable for your dealings in the carrying out of your duties as a public servant.
If you and your colleagues in the Labour party have nothing to hide then why hasn’t your leader instituted an investigation team?
A line can only be drawn once this issue has been properly resolved and all MPs clearly show themselves to be acting beyond reproach. For me this includes the immediate, real time publication of their expense claims.
The MP, whose constituency is a stronghold of the British National Party which gained 13% of the vote there in the 2005 general election, said he had “nothing to hide” on expenses and he urged other MPs to speak out and defend themselves.
“I have absolutely nothing to apologise for. I have done nothing wrong,” he told BBC News.
Then publish all of your expense claims and justification for them. Let the public be the judge of whether or not you have done anything wrong.
He said the green book setting out the rules for MPs had been his “bible” but he had been told by the Parliamentary fees office “just buy whatever you would buy for your home”.
“I don’t believe I have been well served,” he added.
Aha! Another Gordon Brown-like blaming of someone or something else.
As I write this the BBC reports that Shahid Malik is stepping down pending an inquiry into his expense claims by Standards chief Sir Philip Mawer.
I’ll finish the posting with this link to a quote from today’s Sky News by Mr Malik. In the words of Frank Carson “It’s a cracker!”