Something Rotten in the House of Commons

18 May

Watching cross party MPs turn on the Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, was somewhat perplexing. On one hand, his lack of leadership was instrumental in allowing recent expenses scandals to take place. On the other, it is hypocritical of MPs to expect one man to take the blame for something they all seem to have been aware of, if not actively involved in; not dissimilar to seeing a gang of criminals blaming their crimes on the chief inspector of their local police force. If only he’d arrested them before they robbed that bank …

It is impossible to overstate the significance of today’s events. If Mr Martin does resign, he will become the first speaker since the 17th century to be forced to do so, and I’m sure the House hope this will draw a line under the whole affair. He will become a high profile sacrifice to placate a public who have lost all confidence in the democratic process and those who administer it. But will it be enough? Do we really believe the entire blame lies at his door? I think not.

The expenses system was drawn up by the very people who so readily abused it, yet, they seriously expect us to believe with one sacking honesty and transparency will be restored. This belief that we can be so easily hoodwinked smacks of extreme arrogance! These are the people we elected to represent us, they do not seem to be doing that. They appear to be more interested in lining their pockets and advancing their own interests, which really isn’t good enough. We deserve better!

Politics used to be seen as a form of public service. That may be an old fashioned idea, and it may not have always been true, but that ideal did set the tone of the House; MPs were there to speak for the interests of their constituents, not to further their own. Unless we return to that old fashioned notion the voting public will continue to feel unrepresented and disenchanted with the political process, and that could have far-reaching and disastrous consequences.

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