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Sunday, May 10, 2009

The heart of the problem

Frankly there is just too much information out there to even begin to keep track of all the expense scandals surrounding MPs at the moment. I have said before that this mess is their own doing.

If MPs had been more transparent and accountable earlier, not sought to block Freedom of Information requests and not looked like they had something to hide by trying to stipulate what could and could not be published then they would not now be facing at least another week's worth of revelations in the Daily Telegraph and all the consequences of that.

It seems that some have still not learnt the lesson if this article in today's Sunday Times is anything to go by. The paper reports that the Commons Speaker, Michael Martin, is said to have delivered an extraordinary outburst against his critics who are demanding reform of parliamentary pay and expenses.

Martin, a former sheet metal worker and shop steward, allegedly told a senior MP: “I have been a trade unionist all my life. I did not come into politics not to take what is owed to me.”

The Speaker has so far refused to speak in public about the expenses scandal. However, the MP said Martin made his revealing outburst when he challenged him to take a more active role in reforming the lax allowances regime. “He saw his role simply as a shop steward defending MPs’ Spanish practices,” said the MP.

The Speaker denies that he made this comment though it sums up the attitude of many MPs. He is under pressure to stand down at the next election but appears reluctant to go: One MP warned that there may be a bid to unseat Martin in the autumn. “We handed him the bottle of whisky and the revolver, but he appears to have thrown away the gun and drunk the whisky,” the MP said.
It just goes to show you can't be too careful.
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