Thursday, 21 May 2009

The Gentleman's Club

Ben Macintyre's article in today's Times is one of the most accurate sumaries of the current expenses scandal:

The first time I went to the HOC, I remember my boss (an MP) offering to buy me a coffee and cake. I was worried, thinking my longing for a caramel short was about to put my employer down a tenner (pathetic I know!) My fear was rather shortlived when it cost less than £2, around 70% cheaper than the market price - don't you know!

On a serious note, this always struck me as odd because ultimately, it was a subsidy that the House made but it seemed to be part of a wider culture that reminded me instantly of University, where by bending the rules and knowing the right people in the Union could save you a few pounds here and there.

What I do find remarkable is the 'astonishment' the Telegraph is now projecting across the media landscape. Surely the lobby have been aware of this for years and indeed have on many occassions benefited from MP's expenses, on a scale higher than a caramel shortbread, I bet!

In 'What the Media Are Doing to Our Politics, John Lloyd accused the media of damaging the legitimacy of parliament and therefore democracy. In my eyes, the Telegraph's main aim is to destabilise the House until there has to be a change of the guard - a new, David Cameron led Parliament.

This misses the point made by Macintyre, the fact that all MP's are culpable but what he doesn't admit is that ultimately only Labour will suffer. Now you will tell me that Tories have had it just as bad, from Moats to Gardens and the the Lib Dems have too and...rubbish - we all know that it's not who is named but who it has the greatest effect on.

People may cry 'parliament is the true loser' but power will be retained and unaffected in the Palace, people will move on. The anachronistic system will modernise and Labour will be forced to cross the Chamber.

The 'Gentleman's Club' has been like a bloated game of pass the parcel and it's Gordon who won't be able to find a seat.

At least he can grab a cheap cake though if he goes quickly enough...

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