Saturday, May 30, 2009

I did it with my little hatchet!

As the relentless exposé of The Daily Telegraph continues it is time for me to ‘come clean’ before the evidence is placed before the howling mob of the General Public.

I have to admit that in my professional past I did submit an expenses claim to the Welsh Joint Education Committee for some pieces of string. Of course, in the light of the recent publicity I apologize unreservedly and ask for consideration and forgiveness.

The fact that the string was used to tie up wrapped (oh, I claimed for the brown paper too!) marked examination papers which were then sent to the WJEC should in no way mitigate the disgraceful nature of my claim. So too the risible amount of money that I was paid for each script marked by me should have no bearing on the case. I done wrong! It’s a fair cop!

With my new internet radio I have been able to indulge in an orgy of Radio 4 listening and so have surfeited on MP’s expense claim horror stories. I am constantly reminded of the “7/84” Theatre Company which used to tour schools and art venues. The title came from the ‘fact’ that in Britain 7% of the population owned 84% of the wealth – leaving (just do the maths) 93% of us to enjoy the 16% of the rest of the wealth of the country!
The ‘moat cleaning’ and the ‘floating duck house’ sound like something from Wodehouse and remind us that the rich ruling classes have never really left the seats of government whatever we tell ourselves about living in a democratic meritocracy.

From the serene seclusion of my balcony it does actually look as though the whole parliamentary system is rapidly imploding. A commentator on Radio 4 expressed my fears in a rather neat progression which I can’t remember in exact detail but went something like, “The expenses scandal affects perception; perception affects voting; voting affects the parties; the parties affect life – so the expenses furore changes our life.”

I think that this whole affair has been produced by the cowardice of members of Parliament. It has been pointed out many times in the past that the salary of an MP is low for a legislator in a developed country. Instead of grasping the nettle and making the salary reasonable MPs have fudged the issue by boosting the expenses side (which up until these present days was hidden salary) at the cost of transparency in the major monthly payment.

I feel no sympathy for them; they are, after all, the architects of their own destruction. And perhaps that is what is needed – a wholesale winnowing of the present members of the House and, with new rules, a new start.

Cameron’s rather desperate appeal to anyone, even those outside the political fraternity to offer themselves for consideration as future parliamentary candidates comes with many dangers. Most governments who have appointed ministers from outside the usual parliamentary pool have found that such people rapidly become liabilities as they show themselves insensitive to the workings of the governmental system.

Perhaps we should have faith in the black flag of Anarchy and believe in the constructive aspects of that philosophy and hope that out of chaos a New Order will emerge: though history tells us that the “New Order” is usually heavily in quotation marks and totalitarian rather than humanitarian in flavour!

I remain optimistic (probably because the sun is shining) and will watch future developments with wary interest.

Roll on the European elections and god help us all!
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