Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mr Speaker Can Run But He Can't Hide

What an outrage it is for the Speaker to use public money to go to the High Court to block an order to unveil details of the expenses of several senior politicians. It's all being done on the pretext that it would not be right to release the address details of MPs' second homes, presumably on anti terror grounds. How laughable. Does Michael Martin really think that if a terrorist wanted to find out where an MP lives, he couldn't? Many MPs' home addresses are listed in Who's Who or Dod's anyway!

It's about time the Speaker cottoned on to the fact that the winds of transparency are blowing in his direction, and there's no more undergrowth for him to take cover in.

If David Cameron has no concerns about the details of his expenses being published, why should any of the others? Or indeed why should Michael Martin?

30 comments:

stuart said...

This whole episode is so depressing to those of us who know that not all MPs are on the make and on the take. This is just so very very damaging to politics generally and to MPs in particular. What a awful and crap decision to do this.

David said...

Iain, aren't all candidates' addresses on a big sign outside polling stations? I'm sure they appear there, along with the names of the people who nominated them.

Anonymous said...

Nick Robinson - ever there to cover up the crimes and misdemeanors of this administration - made out that it was an 'all party' decision with the usual 'they're all as bad as each other' tosh wheeled out to save Labour's skin. No mention of the crucial role of Michael Martin.

Daily Referendum said...

One of the major problems with society today is the loss of shame. Unfortunately the public are not being set a good example by those in power.

blair's tortured conscience said...

Yes it is sickening the contempt in which they hold us.
But-
Don't you think Clinton's toast??
Claiming to be under fire (to drive home the experience/courage/leadership message) when her Bosnian arrival couldn't have been more cordial.She repeated it several times apparently so it was a strategy and not an oversight.I can't imagine how any friends in the press/media could spin it positively?

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes, but Iain you forget the old motto of the tobacco industry.. 'one small concession buys an extra ten years'..

Each small concession to Freedom of Information has to be used wisely and in a lean and miserly way.

MPs expenses being released has bought them a year or two of peace. This one has to be kept up the sleeze, ooopss.. typo there, I did really mean to say 'sleeve' for an other occasion.

You can't use all your aces and trump cards in one go...

Anonymous said...

dxiaIf they are so worried about having the addresses of their second homes (if even they are claiming on them AND sending their children to local schools) then just DON'T publish them ....

Gman said...

The rumours are that some of the information will wreck careers. Some of the information wouldnt just cause blushes on the front benches, but result in MPs not getting reselected....

One would assume that Labour has more to lose, just because more of them...

Chad said...

Did we ever get to the bottom of Guido's question of why Cameron (and Brown) is claiming 20,000 quid a year second home allowance when his main home is very close to Parliament?

They are all on the make.

The Beast Of Clerkenwell said...

F*** this story and corrupt politicians in general.
What really upsets me is that photo of Simon Heffer you have published. A walrus sporting a ginger hair piece.
This blog has sunk to a new low.

Anonymous said...

Michael Martins' wife doesnt think she has to show her security pass when entering Westminster. She caused a big flap because some security geezer asked to see her security credentials not so long ago. How dare they ask me to prove who I am. Which makes Michael Martin's comments about not wanting to give addresses out hilarious. She doesnt think there is a need for security; he does!
As the saying goes: What a right load of old cobblers!
Seeing as Michael Martin is one of them cocky Glaswegian types i'll be quite glad to see him get what he deserves! And he does deserve it. What an example to children ah? No wonder so many kids act like they do. What, as a parent, can you say to an unruly child when they see people in govt setting such pathetic examples? Still, isnt that the goal of political correctness?

Anonymous said...

"Or indeed why does Michael Martin".

It's obvious--he's got more to hide!

Martin doesn't even deign to live in his working-class Glasgow constituency, but spends his allowance on a house in a more affluent area. How New Labour is that?
I know the rules are very lax, but how can he justify that, which brings us back to the reasons for his coyness.

Patrick Vessey said...

If David Cameron has no concerns about the details of his expenses being published, why should any of the others?

Why indeed? Care to share the URL where I can peruse the full details of all expense claims made by Tory MPs over the last few years?

a very public sociologist said...

I have a feeling in my water that the Speaker's bid will fail. What will be interesting is just how many MPs will be forced to step down when their outrageous expenses are disclosed. I do suspect the bulk will be NuLab MPs - is it not a political truism that Labour is beset by financial scandals, while for the Tories it's all about sex? (Conway exempted, of course)

verity said...

"... the winds of transparency are blowing in his direction."

Elegant and telling phrase, Iain!

Anonymous said...

Well my local Mp has his details in BT directory and I have called him in the past let alone all the details that His Party may put through the door.
Then again this is the party that would break any kind of perceived Protocol.
The Pratt would not have been there in the first place

wrinkled weasel said...

It's time to draw a line under the expenses row. They have nearly all been at it. I will say that again, they have nearly all had their snouts in the trough.

The way to deal with this is to have an amnesty and make the process one hundred percent transparent from now on. Make it clear that fiddlers will be found out and shamed. Clarify the process and appoint an independent office to scrutinize the finances of MPs and ministers. Make it impossible to fiddle expenses or mask payments etc, and make it clear that the penalties for detractors are instant removal from the Commons.

The problem has been that MPs have seen expenses as a way of adding to their modest salaries. They are caught up in a world of one-upmanship and fame, in a world where they are rubbing shoulders with the fabulously wealthy. Hardly surprising if they get carried away with the lifestyle and feel the need to spend our money.

The sad thing is, there are probably a few honest johns and honest janes who have been scrupulously honest. It does happen because I was once the recipient of receiptless public expenses and I didn't cheat either.

verity said...

"... the winds of transparency are blowing in his direction, and there's no more undergrowth for him to take cover in."

An elegant and killing phrase, Iain.

Anonymous said...

I think the winds of transparency is dead right. Those schooled in the super-control old-world politics of smoke-filled rooms have completely failed to see what's happened.

Those on the list include Martin, McBroon and Leninspart. All of them are flailing around because of the information revolution - they are completely unable to grasp how much the world has changed.

Anybody see the three-way slag-match between Lenin, Paddick and the Red/Green woman on Comment is Free?

The Grauniad has run it as story on the website tonight. I recommend you have a look at the thread. Livingstone and Paddick have a massive scrap over the meaning of 'privatisation' of the tube.

Lenin is furious that Paddick could split the vote and let Boris through. Sian Thing is already on Lenin's side, no doubt with the promise of being deputy mayor.

Lenin is trapped in Zone 1 gesture politics and Boris is running around the suburbs gathering up the huge anti-Ken no-show votes.

Over 60 percent of London that didn't vote last time....

Tyrant said...

There's a phrase that's sometimes used to describe the impact of price comparison and review sites on the internet.

It is: "The Tyranny of Transparency"

Every year, more and more people turn to these sites before making purchases, booking holidays etc. Slowly but surely companies are realising that consumers are getting much more savvy at working out who is offering good value and good service.

In the past, there were always magazines like "Which", but the internet has made such scrutiny available to everyone, for free, in just a few clicks of a mouse.

MPs need to wake up. What they are now experiencing is "The Tyranny of Transparency" at first hand.

However much they dislike this scrutiny, it's not going to go away and the more they wriggle, the worse it will get.

Anonymous said...

If the Tories on that list have nothing to hide, then they should publish their expenses now and put the rest to shame.

Yes why are Cameron and Brown claiming for a second home?


Hiding behind the security argument is plainly a ruse and as you quite rightly point out any self respecting Terrorist could easily find an MP's address. I take it most MP's do vote.

Scrooge said...

What is needed is for someone to put those addresses into the public domain, so that excuse can be shot down in flames. Iain? Anyone?

a suspicious so and so said...

Could it be that there is a pattern in the expenses claims which would indicate that a large number of (longstanding) MPs have been involved in a conspiracy to maximise their take?

This might involve sharing information about the claims limits in the John Lewis list. If, for example, fifty MPs had claimed £289.95 for an air conditioning unit it might rather give the game away, might it not?

Desperate Dan said...

Of course they don't want any addresses published. When they exercise their right for a new kitchen and bathroom every year its always sent to a different address. The public would find out that they'rwe furnishing houses. flats and rental properties belonging to their children, parents, friends and business partners

machiavelli said...

Iain you're being unfair! As someone working for one of the MPs whose expense claim has been asked for, the Speaker has never asked these MPs whether or not they mind them being released.
It's yet another sign that the doddery old fool needs to be sent off to the knackers yard.

Penfold said...

What an outrage it is for the Speaker to use public money to go to the HighCourt ................

He didn't use a Taxi did he????

Michael Martin is of course cocking a snoot at democracy and the taxpayers here. He's a chippy little oik, who's got above his station in life and now wnats to preen over the plebs.
A pox and plague on'im, time for radical change at Westminster.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

Anonymous @ 8.22 PM and patrick Vessey @ 11.02 PM. I agree. Why has Cameron not said, 'As from 5th April all conservative MPs, including myself, will make full disclosure of all their expenses, and produce receipts for every item of expenditure; and any MP who declines will lose the whip'?

It's going to happen anyway. Gorbals Mick is going to lose his ridiculous case and Carter Ruck are going to charge him [i.e. us] a fortune for the litigation.

Twig said...

MPs should declare all benefits in kind and pay the tax and NICS - in the same way that everybody else does.

Only then will they feel the effects of their own tax hiking policies.

Anonymous said...

"time for radical change at Westminster."

a few suggestions

1. all expenses only according to a publicised list of reimburseeanble items .

2 all expenses published - immediately- on the net

3 a committee of non- parliamentarians to vet the system

4 equal sized constituencies

5 make the whip system illegal

6 two yearly elections - five years is far too long in the 21st century

7 take away 85% of the work of Westminster and give it to an English parliament

8 reduction in size of the British parliament to 250 seats

9 rename it the British Grand
Committee

just for starters !

Colin said...

If the House of Commons Commission loses this pointless and groundless appeal, then surely the case for the Speaker to resign / retire will be unanswerable. If he doesn't he should be removed - were that not consititionally impossible. Single-handedly he will have done more than most to drag the reputation of the Commons through the gutter, and by failing to recognise and meet the need for greater transparency and accountability, he has failed to serve the Members of the House and the electorate.

'There's no fool liek an old fool' and it will certainly be time for this old fool to retreat to his Glasgow homeland whence he came.

Cameron is quite right to attack this appeal and the utter waste of taxpayers money (£100k forsooth !!!) that it will involve. There's absolutely no justification for it and it's a great pity that Martin cannot eb sacked. I would hope that the next Speaker will be elected on a pledge of reform, openness and restoration of the reputation of the House and its members. It's about time.