Muzzled I am

Ocassionally I run posts past my colleagues before I hit publish! Here’s one I was asked not to post in February this year. Thanks guys (you know who you are). What do you think of my “sixth form debating tactics now”?

Disgraced Tory MP Derek Conway

The spectacle of both the UK’s House of Commons and the European Parliament disgracefully trying to keep their lucrative regime of expense scams private will come back to haunt both institutions. We are entering an age where traditional deference is dying off and people no longer believe that respect can be merely attributed because people have ‘status’ or ‘power’ or ‘position’. Today, respect has to be earned and re-earned if people’s default position of scepticism is to be overcome. And how do our political leaders respond? In the EU we learn, the publication of a report into the misuse of expenses was suppressed and at Westminster the discredited Speaker of the House may actually veto a move that would have allowed public access to details about MP’s housing allowances . . . . one of the most abused areas of financial privilege MP’s enjoy. And all this, just a couple of weeks after the Derek Conway scandal in which the systematic nepotism of this old boy system was spotlighted in the starkest of terms. I’m not suggesting that there will be riots and revolution, but the drip, drip of cover-up, secrecy and obfuscation in response to blatant abuse will oblige people to come to their own conclusions about the politicians and the political process. And these people wonder about low election turn-outs!

[tags] political expense scandal; political transparency [/tags]

David Brain

8 Comments

  1. Spot on: the saddest thing about this is the extent to which it was a ‘very slow, but very big’ train headed towards collision…

    …in the long-run (some years) our democracy will benefit from the last two weeks. IMHO, however, I do worry about the ‘not traditional parties’ that will see election as the public (understandably) kicks back

  2. Great post. I’ve a number of draft posts with my take on the situation, none of which at the moment I feel able to publish. Either I water them down to become anodyne, or I run the risk of upsetting/angering friends, or worse being indiscreet with confidences as it’s hard to track what’s in the public domain and what isn’t.

    I’ve been in Westminster the last couple of days and am frankly amazed at the bunker mentality, with MPs of all parties still totally failing to get it.

  3. New Labour bypassed parliament from the day Tony Blair took power. Instead it relied on the media. Now that media has exploited its position to turn on the entire political body. The response should be to put the emphasis back on the integrity of parliament. Let’s have an end to spin.

    The expenses scandal really has been over-blown (spun) by the media. But perception has it otherwise, and that’s a big problem. The challenge for the political parties of all stripes is to stand up for the integrity of both parliament and politicians. It might, however, take a general election to refresh the faces and to improve the quality of MPs to make that approach credible.

    If there is one rule of PR and relationship-building that MPs should remember, it is that groveling and trying too much to be liked repels rather than attracts sympathy (support, respect) because it comes across as pathetic.

    I posted a piece on this on my PR blog here:

    http://paulseaman.eu/2009/05/mps-carry-on-fiasco/

  4. Paul,
    Labour certainly did not invent spin and I absoulutely don’t agree with you that the media have blown this out of proportion. It is real (and probably even criminal) issue and it has severely undermined trust in the political process. It’s one of the most significant stories I can remember. I do agree with you that we should now have an election and start again.

  5. Stuart,

    I guess it is more complicated for you as you are IN the party as it were. Funny how we are our own most severe censors sometimes.

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