Tag Archives: Parliament

More on Laws

You know – there’s a distinctly unpleasant smell about many of the comments surrounding David Laws at the moment, accusations that ‘militant’ homosexuals (god alone knows what they look like) and ‘agenda pushers’ will keep him in his job: and you know what – maybe that’s a good thing? Not the keeping in his job because he’s a woofter, no – but keeping him in his job because he’s good at it, and if the Parliamentary Standards Commission finds his ‘crime’ to not be worth a reprimand why should rabid commentators thirsty for blood get a scalp just for the sake of it seeming ‘the decent’ thing to do (in best daily mail speak).

As I was saying yesterday, his expenses pale into insignificance compared to what others have taken, it’s his honesty over the nature of his relationship which you have to call into question. Of course if they were just friends with benefits then one can understand why it was treated as a landlord/tenant agreement, if they formalised the relationship in any other way however – then it’s an entirely different matter: and the money should be not only repaid, but investigated to the full extent of the law.

I’ve been saying for a long time that Parliamentary expenses should be simplified – this is yet another case where the rules were grey and we’re once again all pontificating on whether to hang David Laws out to dry or let him ‘get away’ with it. Of course this stems from our general assumption that most politicians are scum, movers and operators of the lowest order; which is unfair – many really, genuinely, aren’t – but while there is still not enough public transparency in the details of how they’re paid and how they claim work expenses, and indeed who presides over the ajudication of setting those fees and how they’re administered, we’re going to rub against this again and again.

It is of course, not just Parliament: Parliament is just an unfortunately public example. Expense fraud, if you want to be blunt about naming it, is rife in any business where expense accounts are the standard way of claiming back a significant proportions of outlaid income. Maybe that should be the argument for building a hotel with 650 rooms for MPs, setting a standard pay grade for all of them, giving them a free travel pass (as in the forces) to and from their nominated home to their nearest London terminal free on national rail or an airline of choice (in standard class) and doing away with all the expense and rigmarole of the IPSA and the fees office – Simplistic many in Westminster might scream, but you’ll never know until you actually give it a try.

Bercow gets the Aye

So after what was about to go down in history as the longest point of order ever from Malcolm Rifkind, the house has spoken and despite a (reasonably) loud ‘no’: the ayes had it, and John Bercow was re-elected to the speakers chair.

I personally think this is the wrong decision, I didn’t like Nadine Dorries e-mail that made some statements that felt wrong, and didn’t really address any of the real issues of why Bercow is the wrong man, but hey. You simply can’t win them all; and we’ll have to live with Bercow all over again. Let’s hope he tones down the geography teacher act a little – it’s been stifling interesting debate and despite his protestations, I think it’s had the effect of quietening the backbenchers who in those moments of uproar would often be able to get in with a real blow at a minister who they might not always get the opportunity to address otherwise.

I do hope in his efforts to modernise he doesn’t cast off any more of the traditional elements of the speaker’s office. These are treasured parts of our national history: we just have to remember we’ve got a lot more history than most countries so our traditions seem ‘old-fashioned’ but it doesn’t stop nations younger than most of the buildings in whitehall keeping the traditions they were founded on even though it’s “the 21st century”: once history is lost, it’s lost forever – so please Mr Bercow: respect it.