Until the offence of treating was created it was within the rules to ply electors with foodstuffs and strong drink to encourage them to vote for you. That didn’t make it right. Some time ago it was within the rules to shove a child up a chimney for the purposes of removing soot from the flue. That didn’t make it right. Not so long ago it was within the rules to pay a woman less than a man for doing the same job. That didn’t make it right. It used to be within the rules to deny workers the right to withhold their labour. That didn’t make it right. There have been cases where it has been claimed that there was no intentional wrong-doing. That didn’t make it right.
Parliamentarians should be well paid, well rewarded for their efforts, and the expenditure necessary for them to carry out their job should be reimbursed. Those payments, salary and expenses, should be recorded in full view of the public as well – in the way that the Scottish Parliament does. There appears, however, to be far too many Members of the Westminster Parliament who are willing to lurk in the shadows, who have accepted a culture which stretches the envelope of the system – a system which is already too lax and too hidden – and who appear to regard the interest of the public as intrusive rather than justified. It’s the psyche that believes MPs to be rulers rather than servants, which rates Parliament as a private club to be enjoyed by its members rather than as the crucible of debate about political direction.
The claims for prams, window blinds for children’s bedrooms, hanging baskets, and bath robes indicate that some MPs appeared more than willing to demand that the ordinary expenses of everyday life should be met for them. That pales into insignificance, though, when Gordon Brown claims that the system is at fault. It’s not the system, Mr Brown, it’s your greed.
Shortly after Blair signalled his intention to demit office Brown changed his ‘second’ home from his flat in London to his family home in North Queensferry, allowing him to use Parliamentary allowances to cover the costs of running that property, he then gave the London flat to his wife, they remortgaged it to free up equity and then nipped off to live free of charge in Downing Street.
The system used in Westminster isn’t good and they should learn from the Scottish Parliament, but that does not excuse the grasping greed and the shoddy morals. These people should not be in office.