Demoralised MPs were last night bracing themselves for a potentially lethal backlash as constituents, journalists and political opponents trawled through their expenses claims, and started to publicise how they had used taxpayers' money to subsidise mortgages, enjoy food worth £400 a month free of charge, pay parking tickets, or purchase pastel-shaded sofas.They’re demoralised?
The immediate damage to the political class will come less through the revelation of complex property deals, since such detail has been censored, but in the sense that MPs lived a life apart.Which is what people have been saying for a while now – we don’t have a representative democracy when we have MPs who are, for the most part, insulated from the effects of the policies they impose on everyone else by virtue of being able to exempt themselves from regulations and live in areas unaffected by the mass immigration and building projects, and by doing so while awarding themselves ever increasing piles of taxpayer cash.
And if people are angry about the expenses scandal, how are they going to feel when the MP Pay Board recommends yet another inflation-busting ‘pay’ rise for them? Figures like 10% are being alluded to, in the middle of a recession when most will get 01.0%, or even no pay rise at all.
On the ever-unforgiving blogosphere, there is talk of protest marches through the towns and cities of Britain, as well as reheated promises to put up independent candidates, in an attempt to rekindle the anti-sleaze mood already reflected in this month's European parliament election results.People always say it was ‘sleaze’ that brought down the Major government, but that was nothing compared to this.
And this is cross-party. No party is innocent. They’ve all had their snouts buried deep in the trough.
Sir Stuart Bell, a member of the members' estimates committee (MEC), the Commons body that has struggled to handle this fiasco over the last year, told the Guardian last night: "There are many more MPs going to give up, and not just because of the allowances fiasco. Some are looking at the other changes, the end to MPs' self-regulation, the changes to the appointment of select committees, and they have decided [not] to be part of it."In other words, stop the ride – I want to get off, now it’s not fun any more!
Couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of people, frankly.
… MPs now look as if they are shutting the proverbial stable door, not just after the horse has bolted, but sold to the highest bidder at auction. A Speaker and parliamentary leadership without a tin ear to the public's outrage might have printed the lot weeks ago. But parliamentary authorities said that would have been unlawful.And as we can see from the shameless excuse spewing of the likes of Brian Binley, they don’t have a tin ear – they have two!
Regardless of the narrow requirements of the Data Protection Act, John Mann, the reforming Labour MP, said: "We are our own worst enemies. We look like we are ducking and diving."If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, etc, John!
And no, you are not ‘your own worst enemies’. Not while I’m still drawing breath, anyway…