15 May 2009

Dishonoured honourables and the honours to come

I am very struck by the huge response to both Snowblog and Channel 4 News this week – high-quality contributions and a number of very personal comparisons with what is happening in regard to disclosure of MPs‘ arrangements. Stan, as you return to work today after nine months without a job, I wish you well.

Buried in the cascade of disclosures last night on Channel 4 News was the revelation that a “behind closed doors process” (to which we, the media, let alone “we, the people” had no access) had found two of the four accused peers guilty of accepting potential bribes to change laws (as forecast in Snowblog).

Lords Taylor and Truscott face suspension from the House of Lords for six months. In any other democracy they would have been expelled for life. Amazingly, however, it seems you cannot be expelled from the Lords and must remain with the power to go on affecting our lives, for life.

But is worth adding that in an office behind Victoria Street in London, civil servants are putting the finishing touches to the Queen’s birthday honours – to be announced in under three weeks’ time.

There is almost no democratic scrutiny of these – as we reported in Channel 4’s Dispatches Secrets of the Honours System. The Queen herself awards these things “on advice” from the honours committee which works out of Whitehall, with “guiding” input from Downing Street.

And as we grind towards the general election, many Cabinet ministers and retiring opposition senior MPs are beginning to jockey for a place in the Lords. How many more people are to be added to the 800 or so already in the upper legislature, for life?

Edmund Dell (a minister in the Callaghan government) seems to be one of the only Cabinet ministers not so rewarded (he lost out for changing parties at the critical moment). Michael Foot, John Major, and Tony Benn are amongst the tiny minority who have never accepted a peerage.

But the real prospect exists that Hazel Blears, Jacqui Smith and Michael Martin (speakers have been going there automatically for half a century or more) and the rest will be put into the House of Lords, long to reign over us.

Tweets by @jonsnowC4

68 reader comments

  1. Left Outside says:

    Just goes to show how rotten the Lords system is. Bring on the single transferable vote!

    1. Mark Old says:

      Am I missing something but wasn’t the whole point of that hideous building (can’t remember what it’s called) across the road from the House of Commons supposed to provide flats/residences for MPs? From memory it was the usual farcical government project that went way over time and budget. My point is why do MPs need second homes in London when they can stay across the road from the House of Commons for free? Can someone please tell me the point of this expensive building and what it’s currently being used for.

    2. Claire Jenkins says:

      It’s a diversion.C4 news isn’t reporting on the Bilderberg meeting in Greece? The most influential group of elite world leaders; industrialists; royalty and politicians meeting in secret but the mainstream media is silent.Read more at http://www.infowars.com .

    3. weir ferguson says:

      In amongst my general disappointment and anger surrounding this issue, three specific aspects of the revelations about MP’s expenses have troubled me:

      1. The smallest claims for items of low value are, for me, the clearest hint at a cultural and moral malaise, i.e. “I can, so I will”;

      2. Many MPs have several other sources of remuneration simply and only as a consequence of their status as MPs, e.g. non-executive directorships, consultants, etc, which they are obliged to declare (as I understand it). Is this not an inherent financial off-set against the evidently financial demands of being a Member of Parliament – and something the regualtors should take into account?

      3. If the expenses are so “essential” to enable MPs to fulfil their roles, how is it they can so easily and readily write cheques for the many thousands of pounds they now reluctantly seem to acknowledge were erroneously, accidentally or foolishly claimed – or even, as we might be asked to believe, they were misled into claiming? Evidently they are not so poorly paid as to “need” the cash they’ve so willingly drained from the public coffers.

      A Plague on All Their Houses.

    4. Alistair Robb says:

      We are led to believe that what we witness in the Expensegate affair is something that has happened over the last few years.

      How does the case of Tam Dalyell Labour MP for West Lothian, stack up to this.
      Elected to parliament in 1962, Father of the House. Just before he retires in 2005 after 43 years in parliament he claims £18,000 for a set of book cases to house his Hansard collection and is paid £7800, after some haggling.

      It seems to me that Mr Dalyell was following a practice that he saw as the norm in Westminster.
      We need to fully understand the scale and scope of this expense shame.

    5. mass manipulaters says:

      i heard the bilderbergers are all satanists and they run the world, scary isnt it

  2. Clare McCarthy says:

    What type of democracy are we going to have,when we can potentially have these people being given life peerages for what?! Defrauding our economy and running the country into the ground. I am a life long labour supporter who feels sickened by this whole debacle and probably for the first time in my life will not vote at the next election. I have a feeling a lot of people will be feeling like this and to get back to my point What type of democracy will we be then ? What example are we setting our young people ?

    1. Gavin Sharp says:

      You state:
      ‘I am a life long labour supporter who feels sickened by this whole debacle and probably for the first time in my life will not vote at the next election.’
      Therein lies the problem: clearly you were NOT sickened enough to tear up your card when YOUR party of Govt. led us on an illegal war in Iraq, that has resulted in millions of dead? When parties can rely on gullible sheep then they we always keep the upper hand. Ask for your subscriptions back if you feel so deeply.

  3. Ray Turner says:

    So we had TroughGate and ToffGate news on the same day. Yes, it does seem bizarre that discredited MP’s find their way into the Lords.

    I commented earlier in the week. In summary, I think there’s as much of a problem with a fully-elected second house. We’ll just end up with two large Labour Majorities and bad law will be rubber-stamped. That’s really, really dangerous.

    So I’d allow people who have earned MBE’s and OBE’s to sit in second chamber if they want to. If there’s lots of takers, we could perhaps have some sort of election, but we need more of the ordinary and the good in the second chamber (Lollipop ladies) rather than the “great” and the good.

    1. Gavin Sharp says:

      …and how do you think the majority “have earned MBE’s and OBE’s [sic]”? Giving piles of cash or toadying to the (usually) Govt. of the day. Me and my soldiers used to joke that OBE stands for: Other Buggers Efforts.

  4. Evie Murray says:

    I am not that politically minded in all honesty but I’d like to draw attention to an issue raised on last night discussion. The MP Chris Huhne who defended himself so vigorously claimed that his expenses were smaller than most MPs. The discussion quickly moved to benefit cheats and how they are prosecuted for their actions. This MP stated that the benefit system is different to their own system as it was designed (by the politicians I might add) to ensure that people sign up to an agreement that will make certain fraudulent claims are detected.

    This is the crux of the matter in actual fact – One rule for them and the rest of us mugs put up with what they decide. Politicians feel that they are more important than that of a working class individual and somehow their hard work is more deserving than that of a person who slaves their guts out daily. There are people of whom their hands bleed at the end of the day fitting car windows just to keep the roof over his families head. Now compare the politicians role to a man like this. Who deserves more?

    I call for REFORM

  5. Gavin Sharp says:

    The problem, as I’ve long, long argued is “The Party System”. If you wish to raise a complaint against an MP, as I have in the past (an MP took himself off on gardening leave before Parliament was dissolved in the 2005 election – citing to his constituents that there was going to be a General Election soon – before it was even called)… PAID. The media wasn’t interested then. The only ones who can hold these bent politicians to account – is their party. FACT.
    Trust me I’m most the expert on this.
    Furthermore a politicians first loyalty is to his/her PARTY – not to his/her constituents. So if the party says “NO!” to some cause – then your MP won’t bother to help you even if they believe in your cause. Frankly it sucks!

  6. R Waters says:

    An email sent to me. Thought you might appreciate. I am over 50!!

    AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER

    Dear Mr. Darling,

    Please find below my suggestion for fixing Britain’s economy. Instead of giving billions of pounds to banks that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan :

    There are about 20 million people over 50 in the work force. – Pay them £1 million apiece severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:

    1) They MUST retire. Twenty million job openings – Unemployment fixed.

    2) They MUST buy a new British CAR. Twenty million cars ordered – Auto Industry fixed.

    3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage – Housing Crisis fixed.

    4) They must send their kids to school / college /university – Crime rate fixed

    5) Buy £50 of alcohol / tobacco a week there’s your money back in duty / tax etc

    It can’t get any easier than that!

    P.S. If more money is needed, have all members of parliament pay back there falsely claimed expenses and second home allowances.

    If you think this would work, please forward to everyone you know. If not, please disregard.

    1. Richard says:

      I’m 63 so I’m all in favour of this! Just think of the good 20 million wise older folk could do with a £1m, spreading it around like horse manure to help young things grow.

      In order not to be tainted like our MPs, perhaps I’d better have £400,000 cut off my million. The reason is that this year, after a seven-year part time course and a 40-year gap, I will at last get my degree.

      Now that nice Tony Blair (whatever happened to him? Perhaps he’s spending his expenses) said that people with degrees earn £400k more than those without, so with only a couple of years to go, I’m already in for a windfall!

  7. Gavin Sharp says:

    Re. MPs/Lords Accomodation. I mentioned in an earlier blog:
    “Once moored in Portland Harbour, Dorset, was a floating prison HMP Weare… maybe we can track it back down, press it into service and put it alongside the Palace of Westminster, on the Thames. Suitable accommodation I think?”

    1. Honj says:

      Hehehe
      Spot on mate! You have my vote!

  8. Disorganised1 says:

    This is why we must prosecute those found guilty of fraud, no easy route to the Hundreds and a peerage later.
    Speaker Martin must be removed from his post, fraudlent MPs must be charged, and the ‘reformed’ House of Lords, must be reformed.

  9. Vikinglongship says:

    What a disaster for British politics and the British public…none of them are fit to run the country. Whats scary is that they did`nt even see this coming!!

    1. brentolo says:

      It is time to act on MPs expenses – being disgusted is not enough. Craig Murray has posted a petition online addressed to the Queen inviting her to dissolve parliament (Google it). We all need to sign up to that petition, spread the word about it and even canvas Her Majesty directly. At least if a general election were called we would have the chance to scrutinise our own constituency MP and if found dishonest not reelect that person. The worst thing we can do is nothing.

  10. jill dobbs says:

    David Cameron says it doesn’t matter what the “system” says MPs were entitled to claim. He wags his hypocritical finger and says it should be about “morality” and ethics – NOT entitlement. So where is the morality in MULTI-MILLIONAIRES such as Mr Cameron being able to bill us for OVER twenty thousand pounds PER YEAR (lose change to him) for a grand second home since he became an MP. And why isn’t the media highlighting this hypocrisy?!

    Jill Dobbs

  11. Ann Weatherly-Barton says:

    So disgusted by the crooks in Westminster. Joe Public has been ‘done over’ by the Bankers, most of whom have got away with their crimes, and now we find out that for many years we have been ‘done over’ by our MPs.

    Would we get away with it? Of course not. I am being wrongly chased and billed by the Inland Revenue and they are relentless. Even though I do not owe them anything I will probably have to pay for their mistake. These MPs will not get their just deserts. Even if they are sacked they will get well paid jobs in industry. Whilst Joe Public will have to go on paying for their day light robbery.
    Keep at them Jon and don’t let them get away with excuses. I was really miffed by Peter Bottomley last night moaning at the way he was being questioned by the public. Well done Channel 4 for putting them on the spot. Keep it up. We wont be allowed to get away with such things and they should feel the full weight of the law.
    Sincerely
    Ann Weatherly-Barton

  12. Elaine says:

    Oh my God. The Hazel and The Jackie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!???? in the Lords. This
    WOULD start a revolution. Especially amongst the hard working perceptive women of this country.

  13. James says:

    Promote them out of the way, old school style, ha ha. It’s still not what you know but WHO you know. Reminds me of the Masons and all they conjure up. Makes me sick.
    Makes me think – Do they actually now have the right to rule? What are they there for? Isn’t it about time we had a job description for them and a signed contract. Anyone in a normal job would have lost it by now.
    Call in the fraud squad…

  14. Anthony Martin says:

    People of the UK have very little in way of disbanding this Masonic clan of corrupt politicians and Lords. Most people know their vote is really quite meaningless and even more so, now the tip of the corrupt iceberg is beginning to be exposed.
    The media have for years preached about democratic errosions and abuse in other countries, yet the UK has been the hidden beacon of deciet, via the sleazy, manipulative politicians, wealthy individuals and media controlers.
    It may seem strange to utter the words of ‘Revolution’ but, that’s what’s needed to oust these criminals. Britain being seen as the epitome of what a country is, when it’s controlled by the rich, wealthy, manipulative, corrupt, upper class, is what results from unlimited checks on people in authority and, a greedy free for all Capitalism system, that allows domination.
    This Dickensian state that serves only influential, is a disgrace.
    Altruisticness may be against the human instinct (selfishness will always win) but, such a divided inequal society that has resulted over the last 50 years needs radical change, by removing most influence from the wealthy.

  15. Susan Twyman says:

    Yesterday Hazel Blears expressed her concern that the MPs’ expenses scandal would lead to a poor turnout at the European elections next month and this ‘apathy’ would only increase the fortunes of extremist parties. Hazel, ‘apathy’ is a long way from how most of the general public are feeling, disgust would be a more accurate sentiment.

  16. Ann Carter says:

    Dear Jon,
    So many of today’s problems stem from a lack of accountability. Certain people were paid to interpret the Green Book, and to approve or disapprove MP’s claims. Are they not as culpable as the rogues who have been making the spurious and possibly even criminal claims?
    I am sick to death of hearing pathetic, two-faced bleetings from so-called pillars of society. I wish that the horse manure could have been put to better use!
    Is there anyone that we can TRUST?

  17. Anthony Martin says:

    This self protective club of people, in whom we had to trust, generally result from selfish egoistic power freaks climbing the ranks of political parties. It’s very troubling to listen to these arrogant self styled dictators over the years, preaching to the public,once they’ve been selected as the mouth-piece of the party. It’s their blatant arrogance that is seen as some kind of/ measurement of ‘strength’. The dominating arguemental way Margaret Thatcher used to convey, until her ousting. This measurement is wrong as a selective criteria.

    Representatives of the public and country should be accountable, transparent, have no vested interest in any financial gain before or, after working within politics, they should be kept in check, and be expected to do the right thing when they fail….resign straight away and get out of politics. Also, if they are seen to be benefiting post employment within an area they influenced, they should be investigated.

  18. acko says:

    im sick of these eliteist politicians saying sorry, sorry is not good enough. we want them arrested, imprisoned and then we will have their heads on poles.

  19. acko says:

    they wont see the riots coming in every city in the near future either

  20. Anthony Martin says:

    I think when Edwina Curry got ousted years ago, as a result of ‘rotten eggs’, perhaps she really meant all her colleagues!

  21. Junkk Male says:

    I see a few more ‘explanations’ and ‘we could be hurting the country exposing its leaders foibles’ ‘scares’ are still getting trotted out in some places

    If you are an honest, hard-working MP (or Lord), then in all this you have nothing to fear and all to gain (though being part of a ‘party interest first’ system ruled by whips rather than constituent wishes will rather hinder you).

    Otherwise being ignorant, especially of the law… IS NO BLOOMING EXCUSE!

    As is totally misreading the public mood if you are a professional pol.

    I intend to revisit ‘The Fugitive’, especially when the ‘hero’ is confronted at the dam outlet and makes his case.

    These troughers are anything but innocent, so it is all the more delicious to savour the reply of implacable law: ‘I DON’T CARE’. The next bit is fun in context, too.

  22. Geoff says:

    Jon it just seems to be more reward for failure. I would say that the likes of Jacqui Smith, Hazel Blears, John Reid and David Blunkett haven’t been particularly good in their jobs and actually something of a disaster for Britain. They should step down. The late Robin Cook is the kind of politician who deserves to go on to the House of Lords.

    This culture of going on to bigger and better things or leaving with a golden handshake, no matter how lamentable your past performance, can be seen in many walks of life now: politics, banking, government and top execs in the TV industry.

  23. Gavin Wilson says:

    One solution to the MP’s second home allowance could be to serve each with a compulsory purchase order, the price of each would be determined by the amount of their own money they have put into buying the property, they can live in the property as long as they are an MP, and then it can be used for whoever is elected next time, and the time after that so nobody will ever need a second home allowance again.

    A few years ago when Building Socities etc were starting to offer 5 times mortgages it was clear that something wasn’t right then, and I suspect that many people without property haven’t really felt that they were living in boom times at all what with rent outstriping the RPI / inflation by quite some margin, perhaps if MP’s didn’t have an extra allowance to play the property market they might have a more realistic understanding of how many people live.
    I know the Government and Local Council’s position in these areas is not that easy, but perhaps if they had more of an understanding of Property in this country they might be inclined to do something more about it.

  24. Mick,Glasgow says:

    Out of 656 MP’s there are probably about 500 who are either useless,deadwood or silent party faithful.
    It is one of the great jobs in Britain,wages,expenses,hire the family as workers,lead a freebie lifestyle in London(away from prying eyes if you want) and just vote when you are told to by the President (Gordon Brown).
    The main concern of the 500 is to stay in this sinecure,perched silently on the backbenches watching and anticipating the direction the political winds blow and occasionally rattle the cage bars for show.
    We,the public, now have a Golden opportunity at hand in the next election.
    If your MP has been there in the Commons for 10 years or more and has not made even a ripple in the water, seriously consider your allegiances and where your vote is going next time.
    It is now beyond doubt that they all feed from the same trough.

  25. James says:

    I have fought in Iraq twice on the orders of this government, and lost many friends. How is it fair that I and many other servicemen and their families have returned to sub-standard accommodation due to under investment when MPs claim so much. I would love one of them to explain thier conscience to me, my family and the defence community.

    Some of these MPs are in easy commutable distances of London (Southampton, York, Cambridge, Birmingham, Kent). It is shocking.

    Defence expenses are as follows:
    Hotel – around £80 per night.
    Food – around £24 per day.
    Incidentals – £5 per day.

    I fail to uderstand why some form of accommodation block is not procured. This would be easy on security, and MPs would not have to pay for the maintenance of the building.

    Common sense and recession proof.

    There are clealry not enough check and balances on the system with both the Speaker and the body that advises on expenses at fault. But lastly people must examine thier sense of public service when claiming and profiting from a system. It is not sufficient to say ‘those are the rules.’ What would the founding members of all partys make of their modern representatives?

    1. Ron Smart says:

      Forgive me James and apologies to the best News on TV at Channel 4 but I have just listened to any questions on Radio 4 followed by Clive James reflection on the expenses – I had to quote from his article and then respond using James excellent post and my own thoughts below (Jon Snow is a genius and huge Blog) – Again I hope I have not offended you James using your excellent post but it related so heavily to the utter rubbish I feel about this assumption that MPs MUST have this and that…. I hope this post is clear in my effort to convey my own outrage….

      Posted here and in response to Clive James BBC R4 Prog Fri 15/05/09 20:50.

      What doth my ears hear Clive – are you as mad as all the others!!! I quote from your own words:

      “Though it’s sometimes easy for the media to forget it, most MPs really do need two places to live, one in the constituency and the other in the capital city, and it’s only simple justice that the London residence should be reasonably civilised.

      Temptation time
      In the bad old days, MPs from out of town crashed in a cheap hotel or festered in bedsits. Only an unreconstructed Maoist radical would say that they should go back to that. The belief that a politician must live like a student is one that only a student would hold.”

      …and then I referred to James’ excellent post above…and in particular..

      “Defence expenses are as follows:
      Hotel – around £80 per night.
      Food – around £24 per day.
      Incidentals – £5 per day.”

      I therefore finally beg you all to see the real facts as they are or should be;

      1. MPs do not need 2 properties – they need an allowances for expenses for WHEN AND IF they are in London. ..and the current second home allowance of £22300+ pa is utterly mind-boggling – that’s £2000 per month almost for God’s sake!!!. They only debate to 10pm twice a week I understand.

      2. MPs can forget my interest in their repayments and apologies – there should be an immediate enquiry into just how and why both (a) they could create and vote in their own legislation and (b) why the Parliamentary Authorities (i.e. the Fees Office and the Department of Finance paying out the actual cash!!) interpreted each and every claim in the utterly “laissez faire” manner that they did.

      3. Food allowance of £400 per month! – it beggars belief!! What on earth do they think some of their constituents and indeed all benefit claimants need to live on (recalling that even that brethren was increased by over 250,000 recently – it is utterly breathtaking) – who sat down and even conceived this self luxuriating crap?

      I am staggered finally that but for the work of Heather Brooke and other magnificent persons fighting for Freedom of Information that this sad and sorry, sorry state of affairs would never have materialised while each and every one of the MP Committees retain and exercise powers over all of our affairs for access, NAY DEMAND, to exactly that freedom of information.

      The hypocrisy, corruption and singular failure of all the collective MP body to ONLY now be ‘outraged’ at the very system they created (and have allegedly been abusing as far back as 1960!!), and the attempt to protect it and efforts to block access to vital information, by both the wretched Speaker and the sanctimonious Leader of the House is the epitome of all betrayal.

      PS I also understand MEPs have voted to block having their expenses made public – what on earth is going on!!! Just imagine Headmasters, LEA’s and NHS Trusts being allowed to vote like this – Ah! but of course they don’t make the rules.

    2. Granma Wuffles says:

      Unfortunately James, if we were to ask some of these people to explain their consciences, there would be a very long wait while the concept of conscience was located in whatever it is that passes for their minds. Do we have the man hours?

      …more importantly, do we have the crucifix, garlic and wooden stakes?

  26. Jeffrey Lam says:

    As far as Lord Taylor and Lord Truscott are concerned: what measures are being taken to ensure that they do not repeat offend? I fear a six-month suspension is not going to cut it.

    1. phil dicks says:

      It’s the sheer vulgarity, isn’t it? Lords or MPs. I’ve always been a Republican, but the old HoL represented the thick/the clever/the mad/the sane/the nice/the nasty. In other words, it was a VILLAGE.
      Villages are not always representative,
      but they’re sort-of where we live.

  27. David Kemp says:

    Astonished by Margaret Beckett’s performance on Sky’s lunchtime news. She claimed that she was a jounalist before she became an M.P. and earned far more than she did in the House of Commons. The fact is that Sidney (Lord Bernstein), owner of Granada TV and a Labour supporter, gave resercher jobs to three Labour M.P.s who lost their seats at the ’79 election. The idea was to give them a stipend until they fought again in ’83. The M.P.s were Beckett, Jack Straw and Brian Sedgemore. Beckett had no journalistic experience and completely lacked the interpersonal social skills journalists require. She had enormous chips on both shoulders, and contributed little to programme-making as I remember. So her re-invention as a hot-shot journalist, taking a massive salary cut to serve the nation is spin of staggering dimenions!!!

  28. Susan says:

    Tonights Channel 4 news shows how very important to gather information from different sources to get a true picture of what is happening. Anyone who saw Shahid Maliks interview this morning would be aware of his obnoxious manner(in my opinion the worse that any of the MPs have shown so far). His outburst, his defiance, the claim of his working 90 hours a week (when would he have time to watch that tv?). It is not surprising he has been forced to step down; his total arrogance shows his total lack of regard for what has happened and the effect it has had on everyone. No doubt he can sit in that chair and continue to massage that ego!

  29. phil dicks says:

    Dear Mr.Snow – you’re too humble. You’re our Trusted Man – get over it.

  30. Ron Smart says:

    Not going to cut it – it is an utter outrage? How long has the practice been going on? Who else is doing it? What monies have been paid prior to these findings? – Throw them out NOW and PERMANENTLY.

    Frankly I once hated the Free Press but I was gravely wrong – this is why it exsists – Ty Jeffrey _ I agree with you.

  31. Cliff says:

    I trust this will not be censored or excluded on grounds of political correctness or incitement…

    Shahid Malik is quoted in today’s Telegraph as saying: “…as uncomfortable and as painful as the Telegraph’s revelations are, I do believe that they will ultimately be seen as delivering a service to our democracy, our politics and OUR WAY OF LIFE” (sic)

    A few years ago he delivered a speech at a major gathering (see You tube ‘Shahid Malik speech’) in which he excitedly predicted “four muslim MPs by 2005…eight muslim MPs by 2009…sixteen muslim MPs by 2016…then a muslim Prime Minister who shares MY faith!’
    Whose ‘way of life’ does he prefer then?

  32. phil dicks says:

    Don’t blame Labour – that lets the others off-the-hook. This is endemic.

    1. Evie Murray says:
  33. Cliff says:

    I have always been politically aware and generally interested in the workings of government; nonetheless, the true magnitude – the real significance of this – is only just beginning to dawn on me: this is the tip of an even more massive iceberg embracing god knows who? The whole system stinks, doesn’t it?

  34. Natasha says:

    Unfortunately I do not believe we live in a democratic society. There is very little difference between the three main parties.

    At the next election, the ballot paper should have a box which states “I do not choose any of the above”. I suggest that this could serve to measure the current level of dissatisfaction among voters.

    We currently have a system whereby a party can form a Government with less than 50% of the overall vote (from those eligible to vote)-this is hardly representative of the views of the people in this country.

    Yes there have been many sacrifices to allow us to vote; however, sadly for the reasons stated above I will not be voting in future elections..Time for electoral reform.

    1. Peter Lloyd says:

      Natasha,
      The 646 (or close) consituencies do not have equal ‘numbers of voters’ …getting people to vote is a big problem…it will be a bigger problem to get a prospective voter to vote …’Not to vote’….more thought I think Natasha..

    2. Natasha says:

      Peter- thank you for your comments.

      I accept that it would be a difficult task to get everyone to vote. However, one could argue that it is not impossible.

      My suggestion that a Government should have 50% of the vote is based on the total eligible to vote overall. Yes,
      constituencies do not have equal numbers and reform would take alot of thought. However, at present a party can form a Government with in theory 30% of the vote, even allowing for unequal numbers across constituencies.

      Do you feel that the current system is acceptable and representative? I would be interested to read your suggestions.

      Perhaps one reason why people are not voting is that they feel disengaged and do not feel there is currently alot of choice. Again, an issue which needs to be addresed.

  35. WeAreAllShoes says:

    Has anyone considered the timings of these releases by the Telegraph, why should it be coming out now?

    Many may reasonably suspect that the source wishes to inluence the MEP elections next month in favour of UKIP, being most likely that this perso has read the Lisbon Treaty http://europa.eu/lisbon_treaty/full_text/index_en.htm and suddenly understands the problem with the Stealth-Constitution it will establish.

    Those people would, in my humble opinion, be wrong, for this week has been no ordinary week. In Greece right now 150 of the most powerful people in the world are meeting to decide the fate of the world and play golf. There are many blacked out limousines, helicopters and heavily armed men maintaining an exclusion zone around their 5 hotel complex.

    A Guardian reporter Charlie Skelton has been detained twice by police for taking photographs and is now being openly followed as he reports here http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/15/bilderberg-charlie-skelton-dispatch1

    The fact that the Guardian’s coverage involved sending a comedian to cover a major international event in an attempt, shared by the Times, to bring comedy to the circus that is Bilderberg, clearly shows an agenda of or pressure upon the mainstream to ridicule that, which they previously denied. In the process allowing abuses of citizens and journalists right in th EU!

    If this doesn’t represent a dereliction of duty to journalistic efforts, I don’t know what could.
    The boat they sent, to take photos of the hotel, was turned away by the Greek Navy, and the only coverage was over the phone from the police station on the Alex Jones Show. INFOWARS.COM Why?

  36. Kev says:

    Chris Huhne was very stroppy about his trouser press the other evening, saying that he needs one to look smart for his job. Some have shown sympathy but this clearly shows how out of touch he is too.

    First, we all need to look smart for our jobs, not just MPs.

    Second, if I need a trouser press, I buy it with no chance of claiming the cost or even tax back.

    Third, if an employer buys something, it belongs to the employer, not the employee.

    THEREFORE, everything bought by the tax payer for MPs actually belongs to the nation, not the MPs. MPs should return all items bought to the rightful owners. Us. Rugs, TVs etc can be sold and the proceeds put back in the public coffers.

  37. Evie Murray says:

    One thing I do not like is people who sit around moaning about stuff but take no action, as I’m sure most of you would agree. People who are commenting on this blog appear to be really motivated for change. I believe change can happen but only when people get together and create a collective movement like the Gay liberation in 1969. People need to have a common emotional or mental response which is strong enough to create this collective action, I think this is it! It is us after all who are in control even though it might not seem this way.

    The House of Facebook – is a group I’ve started because I believe in action!! Its not that busy yet..
    Look it up

  38. Diarmuid Foghlu says:

    Would you be seen walking with Hazel Blears?

    One of the most shameful effects of the row over minister’s expenses is the lynch mob position taken by the media. Gone is the idea of a fair and reasonable hearing before pronouncing guilt and in is the truly shameful approach taken by Jon Snow when he asked a politician he was interviewing on prime time TV ‘Would you be seen walking with Hazel Blears?

    Perhaps people like Jon Snow have forgotten the last public trust scandal that we have had in this country. It was where many major TV companies were discovered to be fleecing the unsuspecting public out of thousands and perhaps millions of pounds, by running fake phone-in completions that were nothing more that cash scams based on deception.

    At the time the bosses of these media companies blamed their underlings. They wrung their hands and asked for public forgiveness and for the opportunity to put their house in order. There were no calls for the culprits to go to prison and we didn’t hear Jon Snow saying ‘would you be seen walking with my colleagues?

    If we claim we want a say in the way politicians behave because we as tax payers are their employers then we must start behaving like responsible employers. If somebody is accused of misconduct in any other area of industry he or she is given the opportunity to go through some formal procedures to defend themselves. They certainly are not pilloried first in the glare of the media.

    If we as taxpayers want to treat our employees like rubbish we will end up with rubbish politicians and not the generally decent bunch of people that take up that dreadful task now. Do we think it is fair to see a not so senior presenter on the BBC earning £92,000 per year lambasting a politician earning £64,000 a year about his or her expenses?

    If we regard ourselves as responsible employers lets start by reshaping our politician’s remuneration package so that they are not required to scrape around in the gift barrel trying to cover the costs of doing the job. Let’s give them the respect and a wage commensurate with the responsibilities of running the country, which should certainly be somewhere around double what we pay now.

    And yes Jon Snow, I would certainly be seen walking with Hazel Blears.

    1. Evie Murray says:

      Clearly you are of the same ilk. How comfortable are you in life? I’ll bet you are not on the minimum wage!! Avoiding personal attacks there are some points you raise that I agree with, we have a responsibility to treat people with respect. I do not condone the attack on any one particular individual. However, the institutions that the politicians have built up are flawed and they are not wanted anymore.

      So how democratic are we now?

    2. Peter Lloyd says:

      Would you be seen walking with Hazel Blears?

      One of the most shameful effects of the row over minister’s expenses is the lynch mob position taken by the media. Gone is the idea of a fair and reasonable hearing before pronouncing guilt and in is the truly shameful approach taken by Jon Snow when he asked a politician he was interviewing on prime time TV ‘Would you be seen walking with Hazel Blears?

      Hi Diarmuid,

      Your first paragraph..

      ‘Row’

      What row?

      This is a release of information that vested interests spent £2 Million attempting to block release to the public domain.

      ‘Minister’s expenses’ ? No

      This relates to the ‘Additional Costs Allowance’ that forms only a part of all MPs benefit.

      ‘Lynch mob position by the media.’

      Leading in this case is print journalism armed with factual evidence that can be further linked to…home ownership and mortgages etc..What print journalism have you been reading?

      ‘Gone is the idea of a fair and reasonable hearing….’

      In a court the general principles are that you establish and confirm facts and evidence….where is your evidence?’

      You challenge information, without basis, facts and key knowledge and then move to denigrating even handed reporting.

      Any comments…yes I will listen!

      Oh! and then ‘truly shameful approach taken by Jon Snow’

      In a democracy it is called robust interviewing…

      Your first paragraph has not served you well…….I didn’t get to the Hazel Blears element..

      Wrong Blog Diarmuid

      Peter

      e information no available to the Daily Telegraph

  39. Mopsa says:

    Now that my fevered anger about this whole sorry mess is starting to abate (purely because it’s impossible to sustain that level of eye-popping incredulity without doing oneself an injury), I, presumably as many others are, am instead becoming very worried. Who on earth do I vote for in the coming elections? Who can we trust to do the right thing not the self-serving thing? Is human nature really this wretched? Is parliament permanently buggered? And as commented previously, who is governing rather than totting up the acceptability of their expenses claims? Where are the few fine individuals who we can agree are beyond reproach in their financial dealings? And what’s all this tosh about taking months to come up with an alternative expenses system?

    For years I developed and managed a local government grant aid scheme. Simple criteria, clear objectives. Give me a day and I’d come up with a workable expenses scheme for public servants, encompassing those with a need to sleep in London or elsewhere. Truly, it’s not that difficult. What is difficult is knowing how parliament will look in a month’s time. And lastly, Jon, what is the press in other countries saying about this farce? Is it within their radar? Are we a complete laughing stock?

  40. Snowblind says:

    It’ll be interesting to see if Jon Snow et al are still going on about “cash for laws” in 11 years time the way they have about ‘cash for questions’ – which was, allegedly, a few hundred quid to ask a question in parliament, and that only according to the world’s most unreliable witness!

    1. Peter Lloyd says:

      Can you expand Snow Blind ?

  41. Dave Morgan says:

    This whole business just keeps getting worse, I agree that the Speaker must go and immediately, BUT he should not be allowed to be used as a scapegoat over this it’s not all his doing. If we can’t get this Parliament dissolved soon then I think all MPs should face re-selection by their constituency parties. Hopefully then only the truly “honourable” MPs who haven’t had their noses in the trough will be re-selected and the rest have their Whips withdrawn.

  42. Steve Willis says:

    I’ve several observations to make:

    1. I’ve not forgotten Labour’s “Blind Trusts” overseen by someone who ended up sitting on the Honours Scrutiny Committee in the House of Lords, putting them in the strange position of knowing who donated what to whom and balancing that with recommending people for peerages.

    2. I’ve a note I made back in November 1996 predicting a peerage for someone who vacated their safe Commons seat for a well positioned Blairite. My prediction came true within a few years.

    3. I was fortunate to be friends with a Labour peer who was deselected as an MP. He was warned against rocking the boat after the deselection otherwise he wouldn’t have got his peerage.

    4. How many members of the House of Lords have donated to ‘political charities’ before or after becoming peers and claimed tax relief on the donations?

    5. The House of Lords does need reform. However, I think it is wise to retain some degree of appointed places. There are some genuine experts in their field who add value and would probably never fit the political mould to be selected for election.

    6. Michael Martin and his ilk should not be given peerages.

    7. Let’s not be fooled by the posturing of political leaders after the exposures of recent weeks. Politics is about gaining and keeping Power – that’s the driver, that’s why we need a General Election now, so we can break all the political parties by electing Independents. It would also free the Police up to do their job properly instead of being cowed by the political establishment.

  43. Derek Green says:

    Forget party allegiances and vote these cheats out at the next election.

  44. mass manipulaters says:

    Kill them all before they kill all of us.

  45. Steve Willis says:

    Back in 2002 I wrote something in response to Tony Blair’s Third Way proclamation. It had a line in it which has proved to be true – as witnessed by the abuse of expenses by UK Members of Parliament.

    I predicted: Under the Third Way patronage will swell and discreet corruption will flourish.

    Sadly, I have been proved correct. The full text can be found in my Journal at:

    http://steve-willis.deviantart.com/journal/

  46. malcolm thomson says:

    I listen with disgust to the general greed and avarice that is so prevalent in our society today. From your news report today and Dispatches we find estate agents taking backhanders on HIPs to bankers and exbankers not content with destroying everyone else’s wealth, but continuing to rip the public off with extravagant salaries perks and pensions.

    Even our parliament and some of its MP’s are rotten to the core. How other countries must laugh at us now for our pompous claim to be the mother of all parliaments.

    We have come to the point where we cannot carry on like this or anarchy will prevail if we follow those in authority who have so badly let us all down. We need a complete sweeping away of the old establishment we need people of integrity and ability to lead us and to set the example. This inept Government has failed to look after the country at every level, it has even failed on its own election promise to end sleaze as seen in the despicable expenses scandal. We have a useless Speaker who instead of reining in the excess’s is joining in.

    As a first step to our return to moral values we need to clear out the thieves and prosecute them, we need to remove the greedy fat cats from parliament and positions of authority and all MP’s should return to their constituencies and face reselection by their local party grass roots. So that we can so that we can start putting this country right, by having a general election. As for the Speaker he has shown his colours and he should go to make way for a new order. They have all brought us to moral bankruptcy and made this once great country a laughing stock. The Cromwell speech is so apt today.

  47. Bethi says:

    The polite English Revolution of 2009. In my view there are similarities with Marie Antoniette and the Versailles Court high expenditures while there was famine among people and nowadays unemployment! Maybe UK is coming out of its own drk ages!

  48. Bridgette says:

    Hi John, just wondering when will these politicians be prosecuted for thieving from the public’s purse? It is such a disgrace, the poor would have been held in a prison cell and their children taken to foster homes pending the outcome of such behaviour, I view as being criminal.

    Keep up the good work.

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