“Altogether rather grubby”

That was the quote from Peter Mandelson regarding the ‘cash for influence’ scandal that has hit Parliament. I think that it is a rather neat phrase – and not just for this incident, but for nearly all current MPs by the sounds of it.

First of all we had the expenses scandal; now this ‘cash for influence‘ scandal; and on top of all that, the BBC is reporting this morning that the rules regarding foreign trips have been breached on numerous occasions by multiple MPs.

It seems to be yet another case when you just want to bang your head against a brick wall and just scream – “do these people just not get it??!!

With all of these cases I’m sure that the media has taken a few things out of context and has happily created extra indignation (it’s what the tabloid media does best). However, the fact is that our MPs should just be beyond reproach, they just have the appearance of being beyond reproach.

The expenses scandal was, to my mind at least, a simple case of the rules of the club being broken and outdated and the fact that it was a ‘club’. Members had been brought up to believe that this was the way the club behaved and anyway, the members policed themselves. It was the expenses scandal that made me want to start this blog and support the concept of independent MPs as I thought that it highlighted that the system of selecting MPs – career politicians and party patronage – was broken. I purposely avoided pointing fingers at individuals as, apart from a few exceptional incidents, I felt that it was the system that the individuals worked within that was mainly at fault.

However, the latest incidents show that it is more than the rules of the club that are broken. Many of the individuals that choose to enter Parliament seem to be broken to start with – at least in moral terms.

I think a post from Ewan MacLeod sums it up well – Ewan isn’t known for commenting on politics (he writes the excellent Mobile Industry Review). But when he is moved to comment as an average voter – calling it “Simply ridiculous. Absolutely 100% ridiculous” then that shows the depths to which the current batch of MPs has sunk in the minds of the electorate.

Gordon, let’s call the election quickly and flush out this lot shall we?

7 Responses to “Altogether rather grubby”

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by independent_mps: “Altogether rather grubby”: http://wp.me/pxAyU-3u

  2. Mike Smith says:

    If you did not see last night’s ‘This Week’ late on BBC1, you missed a gem – Michael Portillo commenting that “When you enter this club, you leave your morals at the front door”.
    Andrew Neil was chairing a debate between him and Esther Rantzen (oh, Diane Abbott was also there, but as usual, contributed nothing of significance).

  3. Mike Smith says:

    Don’t know what went wrong there, but I hadn’t finished!

    Anyway, everyone acknowledged that there will be a large crop of new MP’s after the next election, and Rantzen, who I have never taken very seriously but respect more after last night,was saying that as many as 12 candiddates newly elected, like her, as ‘independents’ could really have influence and start to change things. (I think she used the phrase ‘like-minded’ independents, but I am not sure.)

    Portillo actually raised a very valid argument. When the last lot disappeared in the sleaze mudslide at the end of the last Tory government, everyone said it would be different next time – but it hasn’t been. So why do we believe that a new lot this time can be any different? Because, his argument ran, it is still true that on entering this club, morality gets left outside.

    It is tempting to say it is different this time. But there are no real differences of substance. On becoming an MP one joins a club. It’s not the Labour club, or the Tory club, but the WESTMINSTER club, and the pressures (and attractions!) on new members to play by the rules and follow the code of
    (mis)conduct must be enormous. And those same rules and that same code will still be there after the election. Twelve independents are not going to change that, like-minded or not, especially if they remain independent of one another. Much as I might wish her to be elected and hope she could be right, I can’t really share Rantzen’s optimism.

    Tom commented a while ago about his firm belief that a loose grouping of Independents standing in every constituency could attract popular support. I am not so sure. With the battle-lines now being drawn between Labour and Tory, even the LibDems are beginning to be squeezed out. Without any supporting infrastructure or banner to rally round, what chance will a loose confederation of inexperienced innocents stand?

    But be optimistic for a moment. What happens if some do get elected? What happens if they end up holding a balance of power? Then we could be in trouble! Without any support, or underlying principle, they would have no cohesion or guidance. The danger is they would remain independent floaters without any power to broker any agreement and influence any change.

    There seems an aversion to anything that could be remotely construed as moving towards a new ‘party’. Why? This comes back to something I have touched on before. Just because everyone’s perception of what the term ‘political party’ now stands for has become so devalued, let’s not get hung up on semantics. A dictionary definition of ‘political party’ might be “a group of persons united in opinion of state and its affairs”. Nothing wrong with that, as it stands.

    But ‘party’ can also simply mean “a group of persons working together”. If that group was not necessarily united in opinion about state and its affairs, it would be an ‘apolitical’ party. It would be politically neutral. So what would hold it together? Well, clearly not the cement of political creed or party dogma. But it would have to share some aims, objectives or beliefs.

    This brings us back to the Bell Principles, or something similar that individuals could sign up to. The cement of a code of moral behaviour that would bind people in the WAY they worked together, rather than in WHAT they were supposed to be working together for. The ‘Not A Political Party’ Party I referred to in a previous comment.

    As a party, it would have no party policies, no party line, no alliance with any other party, and definitely no party whips. It would provide an umbrella for those people who share a common approach and set of behaviours towards public service and political issues, but leave them free to follow their constituents’ and their own beliefs and ideals.

    There would have to be a degree of conformity, but in behaviours rather than beliefs, and it would provide the support and protection to allow independents the luxury of pursuing their own political consciences, rather than their party’s political doctrines.

    The NAAPP. The PR guys and marketeers could have a field day. Could it work?

  4. […] ‘Not A Political Party’ Party? A comment from Mike on my previous post “Altogether rather grubby” discussed the idea of forming a party for independents that offers some form of cohesion and […]

  5. I loathe PM, the most powerful unelected deputy since Henry VIII appointed Cardinal Wolsey

    • Admin says:

      You don’t have to like him to think that the phrase ‘altogether rather grubby’ neatly summed up the situation.

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