Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Another day, another dodgy politician

Should anyone be wondering why I have not posted anything about Derek Conway it's because I have the perfect excuse, I'm still on Jury Service at the Old Bailey. Clearly Conway has been a very very naughty boy indeed. In fact what he did was bloody outrageous and it perfectly expresses why so many of us are now such cyncical bastards when it comes to politicians.

Conway's misuse of taxpayers money is no different in seriousness than the almost serial corruption at the heart of Government. It may seem 'less' to some but when Blair said the politicians need to be 'whiter than white' he was expressing a hidden truth. One bad apple does not of course ruin the entire harvest but when you keep getting bad apples, on all sides, then people start thinking they might actually prefer pears.

These constant scandals are not the invention of the media, sleaze as it is colloquial known in the 'village' is a very real problem and no one is safe from it. It damages the value of democracy and it is exactly the sort of thing that pushes people to support the smaller fringe parties some of which leave an untold amount to be desired. Parties like the BNP will use these incidents and point out that they are not tainted by such things. You may think that people won't vote in droves for the bigots and that is probably true, but the more they see the non-bigots acting so appallingly the more they will ponder of spoiling their ballots or protesting.

It wouldn't surprise me if you could map the growth in the 'none of the above' vote against the growth in the 'sleaze' scandals of the past few years. No one can expect every politician to be pure of course, they are human after all and so by their nature flawed. But the system is clearly broken and needs fixing to ensure that they cannot pull off such dodgy scams in the future. Better to fix the system than have the result at the ballot box smash us around the head with the reality of unintended consequence.

13 comments:

dreamingspire said...

Its the information society, stupid. We more easily get to know about it now.

lettersfromatory said...

"No one can expect every politician to be pure of course"

I don't expect them to be perfect human beings, but I do expect them to show a certain level of decency, respect and responsibility. If they fail to do so, they should be heavily punished as MPs have a duty to uphold standards due to the very public nature of the job.

grumpy grandad said...

If they are scumbags, they should dispense with all this "Honorable Gentleman" b...x. As the man said: There is no honour among thieves - and at least we would know what we are paying for.

Chas said...

You say the "system is clearly broken" and "needs fixing" but the proiblem is that the more we treat MPs like children, the more children we will get. And children aren't responsible. Mr Conway is typical of today's politicians in that he has done (almost) nothing else all his working life. All the money he earns comes from being an MP and it was easy for him to skim a bit off for his family. If Westminster were populated with MPs who had actually made somethingg of their lives and went into public service to give a bit back, we would not only have a far higher calibre of politicians running the country, but there would be no need or temptation for them to shove their snouts in the public trough. My solution to the problem is for each candidate's required level of pay to be printed next to his name on the ballot paper at each election. He can chose any amount he wants. We can chose whether to elect him and grant him that stipend.

Man in a Shed said...

Part of the problem is that politics has become a living for far to many people, rather than a calling to service.

They may start idealistic in youth (Peter Hain), but they just get too used to not having to earn a living.

If we want less sleaze then something needs to be done about the conveyer belt of politics at Uni -> researcher -> special advisor -> MP.

I keep wondering every so often if some sort of term limits couldn't be applied. Its hard to see how it might work given the need for leadership in the commons and experience. Maybe some politicians are just too safe in their seats.

But anyway agree with your sentiments - almost exactly - on my blog.

Pete Chown said...

The BNP can't do this particular fiddle because they don't have any MPs, but they certainly have plenty of "conviction politicians". There is an incomplete list here.

There is also Tony Lecomber, who was injured when his nailbomb detonated unexpectedly. There is Mark Bulman, who firebombed a mosque (using a petrol bomb that was fused with a rolled up BNP leaflet). The list goes on...

Womble On Tour said...

It staggers me that it falls to someone to make a complaint about an MP before the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards can investigate. There were similar concerns about Conway's elder son, but that couldn't be investigated because no one had complained. It's unbelievable. This means that there is no effectively monitoring happening; all investgiations are totally reactive. God knows how much of this kind of thing is really going on in that place.

In ITIL terms, Dizzy, it's a bit like a support team knowing there's a server issue but refusing to investigate it until someone reports it to the Service Desk. And Problem Management ? forget it.

Anonymous said...

If those asswipes are going to legislate about what we can or cannot do, then they have to be whiter than white.

As pointed out, it seems that it went on for a long time, because no one complained. That just shows that it must be rife.

anthonynorth said...

The problem is, Dizzy, most people will still not have heard of him. This is because they are turned off by politics, full stop. Thus, I don't think it's to do with sleaze. Things will change when the economy does - that's when political apathy will disappear.
As to sleaze, we should separate corruption of this order from, say, lifestyle issues. In my experience those who are 'different' in professional areas are also different in their private life. The two tend to go together - it's to do with their attitude.

Matt Jones said...

Whiter than white? As much as we'd all like that, isn't it a) a bit much to ask and b) unrealistic, anyway?

Perry Neeham said...

Chas and ShedMan are dead right. Politics is a 'job' to MPs rather than a calling. There is an argument to say that is the way it should be and that the era of part time MPs is rightly over.

But if that's the way it is then they, us, everyone, can forget about the 'honourable' bullshit. Like any other use of our money MPs income and expenses should be transparent and meticulously regulated

BrianSJ said...

Dizzy
The system requirement we need in our minds when looking at Parliament and the judicial system is over the entrance to the Old Bailey.
“Defend the Children of the Poor and Punish The Wrongdoer” - a paraphrase of Psalm 82: 3-4.

mike said...

Man in a Shed said...

Part of the problem is that politics has become a living for far to many people, rather than a calling to service.
Bit like nurses, or doctors, or vicars, or policeman or teachers,or ......don't talk twaddle. What we need are well paid professionals, not plonkers who have been hearing voices, a calling indeed. Now that's bloody hilarious.