Friday, May 08, 2009

What would the result of a "Plague on All Your Houses" ballot be?

There has been ample speculation in the last few months about some Labour MPs being put on "suicide watch" over the slow brewing expenses scandals. Now, with the news that Telegraph has the unredacted receipts in its possession, could we about to see the hellish domino effect of MPs not only resigning offices but having to resign seats as local backlash in the run-up to the Euro and Local elections gathers pace?

Honourable resignations have of course become a thing of the past during the past twelve years. In fact they've been replaced with either "lets draw a line under this" or a resignation with a comeback a year later. However, now we have a story that has the potential to create far greater backlash from the mass of the public who vote, but largely don't bother with politics at any other time.

The information in the Telegraph's possession is dynamite for local free newspapers, and I think we can expect in the coming weeks these sheets to drop on people's doors with banner headlines about how people's local MPs have been, shall we say, taking the piss in a way slightly more dodgy than asking for a blank taxi receipt and writing it out for a few extra quid.

If, as speculation has suggested we also have a few extra-marital affairs crop up we could see a number of by-elections across the country as MPs are forced to step down as their constituents go postal at them in the letters page of the local and national press. The question seems to me to be how many will there be?

What's more, if there are many, how many by-elections would it take to make a General Election inevitable? If the Telegraph does as most seem to expect, and drip this information out over the next four weeks, is it likely that we could have so many MPs "in the shit" that it becomes untenable for Brown not to call a General Election in the Autumn?

True, the Telegraph may have started with the very top and juiciest of dodgy claims in relation to the Cabinet. However, whilst the lower echelons people may not be as important nationally, if their claims are more outlandish and the reaction in their constituency goes badly then the nightmare scenario of mass by-elections becomes more likely?

At the same time though, you have to ask yourself who would actually profit from this electorally? Thus far we have only seen the Labour Cabinet receipts reported. If the Tory receipts are equally as damning, and some Lib Dems are thrown into the mix as well, who exactly would the electorate choose?

We've seen before how a scandal for a constituency MP can result in defeat to an independent. If all the three main parties in Parliament are pulled into this scandal nationally, and it then filters down locally, could we see a constituency ballots taking the "Plague On All Your Houses" approach and return more independent MPs running on transparency tickets?

These are strange and indeed interesting times for Parliament and UK politics methinks.


Scary Mary said...

Bet you £10 there won't be a single by-election over this stuff.

Far more likely that Gordon Brown will come out with some ludicrously stringent proposals on this stuff that would deeply offend Tory MPs, then makes a dividing line over it and calls a general election purely on the basis of expenses..
Even if he doesn't, nobody will resign.

ConstantlyFurious said...

We can only hope that the Telegraph has chosen to run with the recognisable names first, because frankly, none of what we've heard so far is a suicide, divorce or even resignation issue. They're just a bunch of greedy troughers on the evidence so far.

Don't forget to Shout about the Troughers by filling in the DWP's online benefits cheat forms.

John M Ward said...

This possible scenario is where Jury Team could do well if it happened.

Of course, it is mostly human nature and a rather concocted set of rules that has (predictably?) produced the present situation.

Although it seems to be almost institutionalised within the Labour ranks, it is still essentially down to individuals rather than parties — unless a secret party memo is discovered that told Labour MPs why their new-ish rules were devised, "and these are the ways we have built in to allow you to benefit from them".

It would explain a lot if there were such a document…

Obnoxio The Clown said...

Dizzy, there is no difference between any of the LibLabCon parties, they are all interchangeable. I would not be in the slightest surprised to find that all of the parties were troughing equally.

However, the incredibly tribal nature of British politics means that even if 90% of all politicians were to be found egregiously troughing, nothing would substantially change. The only beneficiaries I can see would be the BNP (who have no problem attracting Labour voters anyway) who get a lot of free media coverage from the Labour Party; and to a lesser extent, some of the smaller parties.

But crucially, I don't think people's mindset will change enough to consider something as radical as a "small government" alternative.

I'd love to be proven wrong, though.

Demetrius said...

In an age of instant communication and easy organisation etc. why do we need the same number of M.P.'s as in the Victorian Age? If in the real world delayering, reduced manpower levels, and technical advances can mean hugely increased productivity, what are we doing with all these M.P.'s, local councillors, regional stuff and all the rest? It's a bit like the early 19th Century government when it was trying to work on the basis of a medieval system. What is really crazy is that the number of levels of government as well as people has rocketed since the day I was born.

Letters From A Tory said...

Sorry Dizzy but I just don't see how you can predict that Brown will call an election at any point before the last possible date?

Why on earth would he call an election in the Autumn when he could give himself a few more months to save the world?

dizzy said...

I didn't predict anything. I posed a question and possible scenarios.

Boo said...

My prediction is that they will release the Tory/Libdem expenses tommorrow. They go for the kill with the juicy stories on sunday.

The only way to escape the plague on both your houses is if the leader stands up and says that the serious offends will be given the choice of standing down or being removed from the party.

As for Gordon brown the only way he can stop this is, by reaching out to the public, perhaps using youtube, detailing out how they will sort out this mess... oh... scratch that idea

Gareth said...

I've seen no mention of either Balls MP, nor Blair. Perhaps that is due for Sunday.

I've never quite understood all the pissing about with elections. Yes I know the incumbent will try and gerrymander. The fear of losing is too great for any of them to ever grasp the nettle and simply get on with it. Positioning for months beforehand. Scheming to pick the perfect date. 'convention dictates it must be on such a date'. It's all a load of crap.

In too many avenues of Government and life The Process has become far more important than the result. The only place it hasn't is the one place it should - the justice system - due process seems to be something of an anachronism these days.

Grumpy Old Sod said...

None of this will matter soon. Check out...

Matt Wardman said...

What will local campaigners be able to do with it in places where a sitting MP is embarrassed?

Rocksteady Eddie said...

The only difference between them all is the way they spell their names.
We can at least keep them all out of the European Parliament, where the same parties are helping themselves to our money. go to on the blogs section and look at the video: just how dishonest are our MEP's. as for UKIP who claim to want us out of Europe, everyone of them along with about 80-90% of the other parties are signed up to the 2nd pension scheme, so all prepared to enrich themselves at our expense.
Thats before the 27% pay rise they have voted for themselves that kicks in after the Euro elections.
The only party not involved is the only pan-European party so don't just have a protest vote have a vote that will count and vote for Libertas.
Democracy, transparency and accountability.