Friday, May 22, 2009

Rip it up and start again?

Extraordinary defence of his £87,000 expense-mining activities by Tory MP Anthony Sheen here.

Not extraordinary because he claims people are ‘jealous’ of his country pile, but because he is so tone-deaf to the debate that he thinks that “following the rules” is still some sort of defence. Being within the rules ceased to be a defence in this scandal almost immediately - the question being, of course, whether the MP had a conscience about exactly how he spent taxpayers’ money.

Revolution is in the air. Reform of the expenses system is already old news; pundits are talking about separating the Cabinet from Parliament and making the Commons a proper legislative chamber again, free from the tyranny of the Whips.

Be wary of revolutions. There are plenty of decent MPs who deserve a future, even amongst those who wandered into grey areas on the second homes issue. And if, Guido-style, you demand complete popular contempt for democratically-elected party Parliamentarians per se, you must consider what would replace them. Esther Rantzen and Joanna Lumley perhaps? But also George Galloway and Nick Griffin and other demagogues pounding the populist drum for their own dark ends. I dislike career politicians as much as the next man, but there are always worse things.

Exciting times, I’ve even started watching the news again. Which way is the wind blowing?

Chris Huhne was on This Week last night talking about reform that would take us back to the way Parliament operated before the First World War, when the Executive had far less control over the House and Parliament was more than just a glorified electoral college for the PM. Reform to take us back to 1913? Now that’s my kind of progress!

12 comments:

elberry said...

1913 would be good.

martpol said...

...if, Guido-style, you demand complete popular contempt for democratically-elected party Parliamentarians per se, you must consider what would replace them.Quite right. My concern with the current debate, as it is being waged in public, is the existence of its twin premises: (a) that all politicians are equally corrupt and/or mendacious; and (b) that a new election will magically create a fresh, democratic air to our whole democracy.

As you rightly point out, an election would actually provide a way for all sorts of non-mainstream parties (some deeply unpleasant) who can get past the post with beyond-mediocre diatribes against the mainstream "political elite".

I share your dislike of 'career politicians' in principle. But unfortunately, the alternative is likely to be a stream of single-issue candidates who are naive, prejudiced, uncomprehending of politics and governance, or a heady combination of all three.

martpol said...

Actually, I think I've left out the second premise there, and made it the conclusion instead. But you know what I mean.

Gaw said...

1913 is in too recent a century. I would go back to Bagehot, so the 1860s. In fact, I have here.

Brit said...

Gaw - nice analysis. But of course there are two big advantages in having a Cabinet that is essentially a dictatorial party cabal:

1) they can get things done quickly
2) if they make a hash of those things, you know exactly whodunnit and you can neatly and completely remove them at the next election.

The PM definitely lacks sufficient checks and balances, especially as we didn't vote for the bugger, but we don't want to wander into the horrors of PR and hung parliaments and whatnot...

elberry said...

A fascist dictator such as myself would be a great improvement on the current mess. i would introduce rather daring new uniforms, compulsory poetry-reading in schools, no more sports (except for cricket and martial arts), obligatory Mozart, pies for all gifted children and harsh beatings for the rest, military adventures for all budding young criminals, e.g. dumping them in the middle of Rwanda with a comedy weapon (water pistol etc.), the reintroduction of pagan religions and Roman Catholicism, more human sacrifice in public places, death penalty for crimes like writing in library books, an end to television forever, more films like Rushmore and The Thin Red Line, more dogs, fewer cats, better & cheaper red wine for poets, more trees in strange & exciting places, a better class of prostitute, free stockings for sexy girls, no more drugs, compulsory haircuts and SAS style hiking for hippies, beatniks, gouchers and ferals, Political Correctness to be replaced with taboos about wearing white socks, no more Oasis/Coldplay, Muslims to wear tweed and watch Withnail & I, beard-growing competitions across the blogscape, a Spartan way of life leading to a casual attitude to death & sudden violence, more 19th Century hardback editions of good books, no more silly ice cream, free education to those who can learn, free death to the rest.

And so on.

Nige said...

Could we have tennis please Elberry? Not that I play - I just think we should. We could call it Sphairistike.

elberry said...

Okay tennis is in, preferably women's tennis, mind.

malty said...

No wonder you're an amateur fascist dictator elberry, not one mention of the trains running on time, or emptying the cities or banning fox mangling, back to night school with you.

elberry said...

Early days yet, Malty, i'm still learning.

Stephen Fawcus said...

If you grove a beard and dress as Ming the Merciless then I'd probably vote for you Elberry.

Stephen Fawcus said...

That should be grow not grove. "Grove a beard" sounds like prison slang.