Expenses


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I have retained the general cynicism in the light of the expense claims made by MPs that have been highlighted in the Telegraph over the past few weeks.

I don’t honestly think there is anything I can add to the debate or discussion that hasn’t already been said.

I am though, amazed at the mealy-mouthed defence of ‘It was all in the rules’ that seems to be wheeled out again and again and again.

Especially when they make the rules in the first place.

There seems to be a detachment between professional politicians and those whom they seek to represent in a general level. Perhaps it is the kickback of the class system and a ‘right to rule’ that permeates some sections of the Upper and Upper Middle classes.  Commentary seems to have settled around a generalised mistrust of the institution of Parliament and those who lodge themselves within her, on the inside looking out.

One thought that has meandered through my brain though is that I wish I could take some of these MPs on my visits with me though – to highlight to them what can and could be done with additional government funding in some of the more deprived areas of London.

I’m well aware that things don’t work like that. The money paid in expenses would not be the same money that would fund a woefully inadequate social care system. That the Fair Access to Care Criteria that squeeze all but the most highly dependent from any kind of rights to care would actually be more broadly implemented if fewer MPs had this mentality of entitlement.

It doesn’t work like that.

The thought that while we are being told that any criticism amounts to victimisation and that, as the BBC reports

The atmosphere at Westminster has become so “unbearable” due to expenses revelations that a suicide is feared, one MP named in the row has warned.

Honestly, I’m sure they are stressed and all but there’s a matter of cause and effect and actually taking some responsibilities for actions. Actually if there are any suicidal thoughts coming from a Member of Parliament they have all my sympathy and I mean that most sincerely.

However I really don’t have time for though is self-pitying MPs. I have to say coming from a profession which has been the subject of disdain by the media and the general public – I can’t say I’m wholly oblivious to some of the stresses caused by such deep seated public resentment –  but conversely, many of these career politicians seem to be oblivious to any uninformed prejudices unless it relates specifically to them.

The Archbishop of Canterbury calls for a return to the basic morality in the dealings of the public servants and perhaps he isn’t so far off. Rather than seeing what money can be squeezed out of a flawed system – there needs to be a wider exploration of the responsibilities of governing and representing, rather than merely a counting of the rewards available.

As he comments, the answer is likely to be through transparency in the future. It will be a brave and foolish parliamentarian who tries to make claim for a plasma television now. . .

Will it deter the most able from entering parliament? It depends how ‘most able’ is defined. Most highly paid? Possibly. I expect the salary without the ‘bonus extras’ will attract some but will deter others.

Maybe I’m just working on a different level but I know I’d be attracted by a 64K salary at any rate! So does it mean that the highest earners are automatically going to be the best to govern us? Do business and industry leaders make the best Members of Parliament? I’m honestly not sure. I think the best Parliament though is made up from the sum of lots of very diverse parts from all different backgrounds and professional groups.

So where does that leave us now? Pretty disillusioned but not beyond hope. I think a purge of current MPs who were complicit in a system of gorging would go some way.

I wonder sometimes if the idea of public service has, in general, fallen by the wayside though and if not, a new generation will soon emerge, ready to find new ways to game the system.

I know, I shouldn’t be so cynical!

5 thoughts on “Expenses

  1. MPs claim they “followed the rules” but most did not ! They all have to sign on their expenses claim that each expense is essential and necessary for their work as an MP.
    Gordon Brown gave £6000 to his brother for office cleaning and claimed twice the sum of £150 for plumbing ;David Cameron claimed for “clearing wisteria” from his porch ;
    They both signed that these expenses were essentially necessary for their work as MPs so both lied and both should be prosecuted !!

  2. Ian – I find the defence of ‘following the rules’ more than a little ingenuous.I would expect some prosecutions.
    Thanks, AM! It’s a nice thought and I try to be positive.

  3. Pingback: British MP caught in expenses flap | Photos Of Food

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