Perhaps it is the way they have ‘moved on’ from the expenses scandal. There were a few casualties along the way, a handful of scapegoats who are currently doing time at her majesty’s pleasure but great swathes walked away relatively untouched. There has been an outpouring of ‘lessons learned’ and similar vagaries. But deep down not a lot has changed.
Take for example the slipped out news that just as the coalition are gearing themselves up for a scrap with the public sector over pensions, MPs are negotiating their pension provision behind closed doors. No talk of restraint or taking the pain there.
Or have a look at David Laws, an MP rated as very clever and a future mover and shaper. The millionaire ex banker wrongly claimed £56,000 from the Commons authorities. He was suspended by his colleagues for a whole seven days with hardly a murmur. Frances Maude, currently upsetting the public sector with his comments about privilege and the need to take a bashing, is another millionaire whose expenses were a disgrace. He sails blithely on.
Or maybe it is the way they will not give a straight answer to a straight question. Angela Eagle was on ‘Any Questions’ this week. Asked repeatedly if she would support or condemn the public sector unions for taking strike action she weaselled and slithered while audience members yelled, “Answer the question.” A simple statement to the effect that she supported the UN Charter which entitles workers to withdraw their labour yet hoped an agreement could be reached would have been fine. What is it with Labour MPs and striking? Their movement was born out of industrial struggle, yet the modern post-holders deny their lineage. The same MPs who rage about workers taking strike action in the UK applaud workers taking action in other countries cf the Arab Spring.
Perhaps it is the way they enjoy fantastic perks. The Olympic ticket agency announced with great fanfare how they were making 10,000 tickets available for our troops. As there are currently over 200,000 of them, that number will not go very far. Quietly and without too much fuss, it was revealed that 9,000 tickets had been reserved for our 650 MPs. Nice.
But what is really awful is the way that so many have become clones. They follow a similar route into politics. University, research assistant to an MP, research assistant to a Minister or Shadow Minister, safe seat. Sometimes they had a job with a PR company or a lobbying company along the way (Cameron). One thing is absolute; contact with real people in real jobs struggling in the real world is kept to the minimum. Life in the bubble dominates. Values and policies overlap around the middle with a few exceptions at either end of the spectrum. All three major parties are singing from the same page of the hymn book although not necessarily singing the same hymn. Alternative approaches to our current situation are thin on the ground. The one Green MP has a different solution. Where are the others?
And as for the House of Lords.....!