Politicians, Expenses and Transparency

Discussion in 'Current Affairs' started by OSLO, Feb 5, 2008.

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  1. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7226069.stm

    I cannot understand why politicians generally think themselves to be above the law and beyond scrutiny. When I was in a dark blue suit, I needed to draft an essay to explain why I took a taxi from A to B, much less any other expense. Why do politicians, elected (to quote Kennedy) "of the people, by the people, for the people" in the UK seem to think that their expenses should be private? They are paid for by us, the electorate. We are their paymasters and their bosses. They are accountable to us. Transparency is not only a right, it is a requirement! I'm not advocating that their private affairs be opened up (unless there is due cause following appropriate scrutinising with an intense scrute), just that anything they do that costs the public purse be opened up.

    Neither can I understand why there is a core element in the Commons that believes itself about the issues of the FoI. The DPA covers anything of a constituent's nature, so again why do they believe themselves above scrutiny?

    Lastly, why do we, the electorate, let them get away with this? The UK media should be shouting from the rooftops about the issue. For a country that espouses democracy, we have corruption and electoral fraud that could inspire some of the malfaisents we're supposed to be defeating.

    End of rant.
  2. chieftiff

    chieftiff War Hero Moderator

    Another interesting article on the subject of MP's expenses, it's so comforting to note how confident the Director of Resources is in MP's honesty:

    "[b]At a tribunal to decide whether MPs should be more open about their expenses, Andrew Walker, the director of resources at the House of Commons, said he had a "secret" list of maximum allowances which authorities would accept for household items.

    But in an astonishing admission, he refused to reveal details of individual items because he feared MPs would take advantage and bump up their claims accordingly.

    Mr Walker's words will add to the growing disquiet around the largely self-policed system of perks and allowances enjoyed by MPs triggered by the case of Derek Conway, the backbencher who lost the Conservative whip in the Commons and agreed to step down as an MP after a parliamentary inquiry found he had overpaid his son for work as a parliamentary researcher.[/b]

    Telegraph Article: LINK
  3. Those first two paragraphs are totally irrelevent, it's your last sentence that is what we should be doing something about - why do we let them get away with it?.

    Apathy - the British have always been apathetic, lets do a moan, but let someone else deal with it. We have got nowhere with this attitude in the past and will get nowhere with it in the future, but will continue along that path.
  4. It appears that his son got a nice handout from the taxpayer (& through the NI contributions, towards his future state pension entitlement) for work he never did as he was an University at the time. He earned more a year for doing nothing that I earned when I worked there full-time!
  5. We "let them get away with it" due to the fact that when any political party is in opposition it will do it's utmost to disgrace the Government and other such rivals. They will all promise you the earth whilst in opposition because it costs them nothing, yet when they get voted in suddenly "because of the mess the other lot left us in" they can't afford to keep their promises. Then the cycle starts again with the ex Governing, now opposition party promise us the earth etc etc etc and so it will go on for time imemorial.
    As I see it, the only way you could break this cycle is by the abolishment of all political parties. Each "representative of his/her constituents" is an independent. You can then elect a committee of policy makers who then put out to a vote by all representatives on any policies they come up with. You then make it a criminal offence if a "representative of the people" refuses to vote in accordance of the wishes of his/her constituents, thus removing any chance of the minority vote overturning the majority wish as with the last vote on bringing back the death sentence.
    There is of course one major obstacle to achieving this and that is that it would need a total change in the constitution of this country. Something that can only be done by a vote in both "Houses of Parliament" and although they may be liars, criminals, ego-maniacs in it for their own gain, very few of them are unfortunately stupid enough to vote themselves out of a grossly overpaid job.
    So, contrary to what has been labelled apathy by some, I personally do not think that any real changes will be made in my lifetime or anyone else's in the future for that matter. It is not apathy just a realisation that the minority in this country will always rule over the majority and whoever they may be they will always see themselves not only above the law but better than the people they alledge to represent.
  6. Spent 5 weeks in arizona scrimping and saving reciepts to keep the JPA police happy. Isnt this the same JPA the government gave us? so why arn't they spending their free-time sweating over it, worrying if the auditor is going to pay a visit????
  7. In practice this would lead to the situation in Weimar Germany with many politicians holding differing political viewpoints and discriditing the democratic political process by failing to agree on important issues. The only beneficiary from such a policy would be the extremist fringe. When you elect a political party you are choosing a broad range of values. A more sensible option would be re-establish the supremacy of the backbenchers to hold the executive to account as happen in Walter Bageot's day, where the power of the whips was weak. This would of course necessitate a cultural change where being am MP was seen as fulfilling in its own right and not simply a stepping stone to high office.

    MPs are NOT elected to articulate the opinions of their constituents. If that's what you want then holding frequent plebicites would be a more sensible option. Doing so would also mean taking responsibility when ideas fail to achieve their primary objectives and injustices arise, not blaming some junior official - but we know that the latter is always going to be chosen rather than a politician taking responsibility for their chosen actions, for with power comes the ability to shrug off responsibility and scapegoat the powerless. I would not wish to live in a country where MPs had to comply with the wishes of the vociferous minorities who would, in practice, exercise power.

    In what way is this democratic. That would put the electorate in an even worse position. If MPs choose a Cabinet (Policy Committee) from amongst their number, how is this going to change things for the betterment of the electorate? All it would do would be to enhance political patronage with canditates for election to office having to make promises to those MPs who voted them into office.

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