Sunday, 31 January 2010

Transparency my bottom – they still don’t get it (chapter 23)

Legge Report due out this week

“Parliamentary sources said the report would be “explosive” and that it would attack in the strongest possible terms the discredited expenses system — which is to be completely overhauled — the Commons Fees Office, which approved payments, and MPs themselves.
However, Sir Thomas’s findings risk causing a further “cover-up” storm when they are released because only the briefest details of the MPs’ appeals process will be made known. No information will be released about the reasons given by MPs for appealing to Sir Paul Kennedy, the former judge appointed to investigate their protests, or whether their appeals were deemed justified or not." (My emphasis)
Sunday Telegraph 31/01/2010

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Blair’s Catholic principles

The Reverend Blair continues to righteously insist that he acted ‘in good faith’ when he gave the go ahead to commit troops to the Iraq invasion. It is interesting that at the time of the invasion we were told by Mr A. Campbell that, “Mr Blair does not do God.” Another lie. Perhaps the vote in the House of Commons would have been somewhat different if MP’s knew how much faith played a part in his decision-making.
But what sort of Christian is he?  A study of his activities since leaving office reveals that his principles are deeply rooted in the acquisition of wealth. For instance: -
The Blairs have no fewer than six houses, including a £6m country pile and a five-storey mansion in London’s Connaught Square worth £4m. This is the man who built his property empire whilst he was PM but his expenses records were shredded when he left office. Very untransparent – very convenient.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Prick That Bubble!

Draft Candidate Checklist

Our Parliament is rotten and our country is struggling. A clearout of all those who have brought us to this parlous state is a matter of urgency. Many MP’s have already decided to step down at the coming election – some jumping before they are pushed. It is estimated that the turnover of MP’s at the next election will be the highest since 1945. Therefore there are going to be a lot of new MP’s.
It is vital that we do not end up with the same old bunch of greasy pole climbers from the political class who exist in a bubble disconnected with our world. If we are to rebuild democracy and restore hope, justice and opportunity to the electorate then we will need to elect decent, honest, hard-working and fair–minded candidates who have a moral compass.
Finding out where candidates stand on the following issues may help clarify our thinking. 

Proposed Candidate Checklist
  1)         I believe absolutely in, ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people.’
  2)         I support the wide-ranging and thorough reform of Parliament and the House of           Commons.*
 3)   I support the practice of having no other paid employment while I am an MP.
 4)  I will put the needs of the country above the needs of my party.
5) I will put the needs of my constituents above the needs of my party.
6)  I support the ‘recall’ proposal.
7)   I support an elected second chamber.
8)   I understand that the reputation of Parliament is very low – I will do all I can to reconnect with voters.
9)   I support complete transparency regarding my expenses
*Does this need setting out in some detail? In a separate document?

There may be others that you can think of.  The statements may need to be redrafted. Either way, please let me know by using the ‘comments’ link at the bottom of the page. It is planned to circulate a final version of this checklist before the election to as many people as possible. Thank you for your help.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

‘Buff’ Hoon. On the make - and on the take?

“The former cabinet minister who launched a botched coup against Gordon Brown is to face a showdown vote with local activists who want him axed.”
"Labour members in Geoff Hoon's Ashfield constituency are to decide next month whether to ask party HQ to reconsider his position as a general election candidate.
Some were furious when the ex-defence secretary joined forces with Patricia Hewitt to call for a no-confidence vote in the PM. The attempted putsch fizzled out when it failed to attract support.
Hoon has represented the seat since 1992 and enjoys a majority of more than 10,000.”  The Guardian 26/01/2010

‘Buff’ represents one of the poorest constituencies in the country. It is astonishing that it has taken an inept coup to rouse local activists.

According to the Daily Telegraph’s online site detailing MP’s expenses, Buff Hoon, “established a property empire worth £1.7 million after claiming taxpayer-funded expenses for at least two properties. He also did not pay capital gains tax on the sale of his London home in 2006. Claimed the costs of accountancy advice using expenses intended to fund their parliamentary and constituency offices. Bought expensive gadgets, including digital cameras and camcorders.”

Why are only ‘some’ of the activists ‘furious’? Why wasn’t there mass revulsion at his wheeling and dealing? Why has it taken a typically inept piece of politicking by one of New Labours most repulsive members to rouse the faithful?

How many other supine local committees (of all parties) are sitting there, with their fingers crossed, hoping all this will blow over and that voters will forget what their MP’s have been up to?

Do they really think that we are that stupid?

Monday, 25 January 2010

Now dear reader – Reminder - it is time to do your bit.

As ex-PM Blair makes his way to the Chilcot Inquiry it is well to remember that this man did not just lead the country into war. Oh Noooo! He also established a property empire (estimated by some sources to be worth £14 million) by flipping his properties. And then all of his expense records were destroyed when he stepped down as PM. Fancy that!

What a shining example to all those other sleazy ‘right honourables’ who have milked the system to the full.

If you have strong feelings about MPs' expenses - here is your chance to have your say.  

Professor Sir Ian Kennedy, chairman of IPSA (Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority) wants to know what we think about MP’s expenses. 

He says that he will give as much weight to what we the public think as to what MP’s think. Issues to be resolved include:
·          Second Home  (do you think they should have one?)
·          Office and Admin Costs
·          Travel expenses
·          Relocation (money paid when an MP leaves Parliament)
·          Employing members of their family

Click on the link (below) to complete the online questionnaire. It took me about 15 minutes . There are spaces where you can add your own ideas or give reasons for your views. You can download the full consultation document if you wish and then respond by writing to the Parliamentary Standards Authority (PSA)
Deadline Feb 11. 

Steel House
11 Tothill Street
One issue that is not mentioned and is worth thinking about is the amount of time Parliament is in recess. Just how many weeks should an MP get as an annual holiday and how much time should they spend in their constituencies ?

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Is your MP a ‘sock sucker?’

How to find out if your MP is a sock sucker.
Go to ‘’ and put in your postcode or the name of your MP. Click on their voting record and follow the links from there. It is quite likely that your MP will be a sock sucker as so-called rebels in all parties are clearly in the minority. While you are there check out their expenses claims and outside business interests.

The House of Commons has plenty of sock suckers. They will cheerfully act as lobby fodder and do their party’s bidding. They dismiss rebels as, ‘the usual suspects’, which marginalises them. They have sat on their backsides as the reputation of Parliament has plummeted.  They harrumph and bluster over their expenses – quoting rules, which they subscribed to.

We need a lot less sock suckers. We need a lot more honest and independent thinkers. 

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Sock sucker

We have a Mr C Tevez from Argentina, to thank for adding to life’s rich lexicon. A mere typo away from obscenity, ‘sock sucker’ fits in nicely with old favourites like ‘creep,’ ‘crawler,’ ‘boot-licker’ and Mr R. Slicker of ‘Private Eye’ fame.
My MP is a sock sucker.
Although quite good at constituency business such as opening fetes and acting as the victim in mountain rescue practices he has been a disaster for us, the people.  He regularly attends the House of Commons and writes and receives an above-average number of questions and receives an above-average number of answers from Ministers.
So in the light of this why has he been such a letdown? A study of his voting record as listed in ‘They Work for’ is informative:

Strongly For:                                                    Against:
ID Cards                                                             Transparency of Parliament
Iraq War                                                             Enquiry into Iraq War
Replacing Trident                                           Strengthening Freedom of Information
42 Day Detention (supported 90 days)
Use of Control Orders
Detention without trial
Tuition Fees (despite not being in manifesto)

He has been described as a ‘most loyal’ party member ( and analysis of his record shows that he has supported all of New Labour’s more controversial ‘big issue’ policies. Many of these involved the considerable erosion of hard-won civil liberties.

He follows the party line.
He puts his party first.
He is a sock sucker. 

Friday, 22 January 2010

Gravy train

Here we go again. Another MP has been found claiming money for a second home when he wasn’t living there. He also rented it out!

Now to most people, that would appear to be fraud or claiming money on false pretences. You would expect ‘m’learned friends’ to be involved and that Mr Cohen would end up in court.
The Commons Standards and Privileges Committee ruled that Harry Cohen designated a house in Colchester, Essex, as his main home even though he was not living there for long periods and rented it out.

"Mr Cohen's breach was particularly serious and it involved a large sum of public money," the committee said. "Withholding of the resettlement grant is a severe sanction, which will effectively recover from Mr Cohen a similarly large sum of public money."
The report concludes that Mr Cohen received more than £60,000 in public money "to which he was not entitled". The Standards and Privileges Committee, which has the power to recommend sanctions for MPs over their expenses, said the breach was particularly serious and involved a large sum of public money. The report will be debated in the Commons and Mr Cohen is expected to apologise to the House.

Oh goody! Another apology to relish.  And he ends up paying some of the money back – so that’s alright then. Or is it? These are the same folks who pass legislation clamping down on benefit fraud etc – but they are incapable of dealing with skullduggery under their noses.

They still don’t get it.

 Information from the BBC website and the Daily Telegraph website

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Bad Government: It is not just about MP’s expenses

Reform is needed.
The way we are being governed has changed over recent years. We have moved away from Cabinet government to the ‘Inner Circle on the Sofa’. This has clearly affected the way senior civil servants operate and they are not happy.
A report, ‘Shaping Up: A Whitehall for the Future’ published last week, warned that there must be a wholesale reform of Whitehall if it is to function properly after the general election.
Sir Michael Bichard oversaw the report. He is a former permanent secretary, and it is based on the testimonies of 60 senior civil servants.
Key findings:
“There is a gap at the centre of Whitehall — a conspicuous lack of a single coherent strategy for government as a whole.”
“The centre [No 10] is certainly dysfunctional and the Cabinet Office is fragmented.”
“…at one stage the Treasury felt it could rein in Downing Street only by sending memos totting up the amount of spending commitments that No 10 had made each week.”
The report concluded: “The office of the British prime minister holds a concentration of formal power greater than that of almost any other country in the developed world.”
We may well be unimpressed by moaning mandarins, but the report highlights the issue of reform, which is to be welcomed. Political parties are trying to maintain a ‘business as usual’ agenda running up to the election. It is up to us to shake their complacency and rub their noses in the need for lasting reform.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

They Still Don’t Get It – Chapter 2

Imagine my delight when I came across the following little gem on the Telegraph website tonight:
“Immunity for MPs who repay expenses"
"MPs who have admitted breaking expenses rules have been offered secret Parliamentary deals to repay the money without being identified, the Daily Telegraph can disclose.

They Still Do Not Get It!

Back in January 2008 a very large stone was lifted and the Conway family crawled out. The stench of corruption wafted over the land. (But only when the details were leaked to a national newspaper).  What this now ex -Tory got up to is revealing as is the way he was treated by the gentleman’s club that is our Parliament.

As the Daily Telegraph reported at the time, “Mr Conway employed both his sons while they were at university as "researchers" and that his wife was also a paid assistant. Each son was paid at least £10,000 a year, while Colette Conway picked up almost £40,000 a year – significantly more than the Parliamentary average for such a role.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Representative of what?

7% of the school age population attend a public school. Which means that 93% do not. So how are we represented in the ‘Palace of Varieties’?

Does it matter that a significant proportion of our elected representatives (nearly a third) come from what can be seen as a privileged background?

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Have your say.

If you have strong feelings about MPs' expenses - here is your chance to have your say.  

Professor Sir Ian Kennedy, chairman of IPSA (Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority) wants to know what we think about MP’s expenses. 

Friday, 8 January 2010

Primus inter pares

The latest kerfuffle in the Labout Party about wee Gordie’s leadership has set the chatterers a chattering and a nattering .  Meanwhile in a parallel universe there are other issues to consider.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

When the winds blow cold

Ian Bell, writing in the Herald, puts his finger on our unreal situation…
“It is a little known invented fact, but the Eskimo peoples, no strangers to inclement weather, have over 100 different words for “sod this”.

Strangely, only one refers to snow. The rest involve politicians.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Trust me - I'm a politician!

Listening to three main party suits at various times last night on ‘5 Live’ was a surreal experience. All were engaged in that incredible performance of saying plenty without saying anything; of trying to stay ‘on message’ about ‘the economy’ and to defeat the attempts of the wily media to trip them up.
Completely unenlightening, deeply frustrating and an indicator of what is to come. And all of them (deliberately?) missing the elephant in the room.
Namely, why should we trust them anymore?
Muriel Grey said it so much better in an article in the Sunday Herald back in May last year.

Monday, 4 January 2010


This is not intended to be a party political site although as the election nears, party politics will inevitably feature. I am far more concerned about the systematic failure of our parliamentary democracy.
I think my MP is a rotten MP. He is not alone. He is one of many rotten MP’s. He supports a rotten government in a thoroughly rotten parliament. And that is without his expenses claims, which are bad enough. He has failed his constituents and he has failed the people of the UK .

Sunday, 3 January 2010


At the next election reform of parliament must be the number one issue. Without meaningful reform all necessary actions to rebuild our society will fail. That is why I am setting up this blog to have an input into what I consider to be a most important election for the future of our country.
There is a real concern that people are so fed up with disconnected self-serving greedy MP's that they will not vote. It will not be apathy that drives the electorate away from the polling booths but disgust and anger. There is also the feeling that replacing one party with another one which is a virtual clone is not a real choice. We are largely governed by a political class who all followed a similar route into power: university - research assistant - research assistant for cabinet minister/shadow cabinet minister - safe seat.