The following extracts are from an article written by Chris Moncrief, a journalist who has been covering the Commons for almost 50 years. He eloquently states what so many of us think about this rotten Parliament.
“There will be no weeping, wailing or gnashing of teeth when this Parliament finally croaks its last. Nor will there be any mourners around its death-bed. Rarely - if ever before - in this nation's history has a Parliament earned so much contempt and scorn from the people it is supposed to represent. I have been reporting at Westminster for just a few months short of half a century and never, during that time, has there been such a backlash of fury from the British voting public.
For this Parliament has been unmasked as the home of an ugly mob of scoundrels, vagabonds, thieves, fleecers, spendthrifts (of other people's money, of course) and Artful Dodgers. And on top of the expenses outrage, we now have the far-from-pretty spectacle of former Cabinet ministers - like cabs for hire, as one of them put it - grubbing around for money to use their 'influence', such as it is, on current and future ministers.
The rate at which some Members spent taxpayers' money, as if there was no tomorrow, on luxuries and frivolities was simply breathtaking. What made it even worse was that when they were buying their dog food, bath plugs and sandwiches at our expense, they said, so often, that they were acting within the rules. Well, perhaps they were, but didn't they feel an ever-so-slight twinge of the conscience as they called in the tree surgeons and ordered their garden manure, while expecting us to pick up the tab?
And then, when they realised the game was up they despicably tried to amend their own Freedom Of Information Act so they would be immune from its provisions. How honourable is that? A long-standing cliche about politicians is that 'they're all at it'. Well, as we have discovered, that may not be so far from the truth after all.
And then, of course, there were the inevitable cries of woe when MPs were told they could no longer, in future, claim for first-class rail travel, as a right, except in certain specific circumstances. The Tories' Ann Widdecombe said that it was much easier to work in first-class and that, poor darling, she doesn't have to break off from her toils to queue up with the hoi polloi for a cup of tea at the bar. You get table service in first-class, she says. Whatever the merits of that argument - and I would say they are pretty slim - she also says, foolishly thinking she is reinforcing her point, that she has written two novels while travelling first-class.
I simply assume that when she did this, she was paying her own first-class fare.
After all, the taxpayer 'slumming it' in standard class would not take kindly to having to fork out extra cash to enable MPs to undertake their private enterprise activities in extra luxury.
But it is not just the MPs who are the villains of the piece. House of Commons officials, in the now much-discredited Fees Office, approved the sorts of claim - including those of an MP who was effectively bulk-buying lavatory seats - that would make your hair stand on end. Indeed, some Members claimed that the Fees Office was actually encouraging them to 'go for it', as though outlandish expenses claims were their legitimate right. Indeed, one of the worst offenders, Labour's Harry Cohen, who is having to repay thousands of pounds, has insisted throughout (as have many others) that his claims were all approved by the Commons authorities and that he regarded all this as 'part of my salary'.
Some MPs have resorted to blatant rudeness about their expenses claims. Ann Keen, who along with her husband and fellow Labour MP Alan became known as 'Mr and Mrs Expenses', told a reporter who approached her to 'get stuffed'. How very ladylike!
Mrs Keen and others seem to affect ignorance of the fact that we, the taxpayers, are their paymaster and we have every right to know how they are spending our money whether wisely or, more likely, recklessly.
The poet Robert Louis Stevenson once said: 'We all know what Parliament is - and we are all ashamed of it.'
His words would certainly have been more trenchant if he had lived to see this now-dying Parliament in action.” D. Mail 06/04/2010
Over 140 MPs have already said they are standing down. There are others, over 65 years old, described as ‘bed blockers’ in this mornings Times, who are having pressure put on them by their parties to step down and let new blood in. There is concern about the need for by-elections in a tight Parliament you see!
Others may well have second thoughts when they meet the fury on the doorstep and shopping centres.
Those still standing will have among them some of the ‘vagabonds, thieves and fleecers’ – it is going to be fascinating to see how the likes of McNulty and Kauffman fare.
Remember the 'Portillo Moment' from 1997?