Sunday, 10 May 2009

Democracy and Justice

There is deadly danger in the current scandal over Members of Parliament and their expenses: just at the moment when the British people desperately need Parliament to assert itself again over both the executive (Ministers like Gordon Brown) and those shadowy others who, holding no elected office in the first place, cannot be disposed of or even inconvenienced by elections, Parliament manages to render itself almost unspeakable, never mind unpopular.

It didn't have to be this way: the Parliamentary Official responsible for MPs' expenses claims, Andrew Walker, first started to protest to Speaker Martin about claims moving from the cynical to the openly abusive, five years ago. Speaker Martin seems to have bullied Mr Walker into silence for a couple of years, then accepted him back into the inner circle of Parliamentary Officialdom after he'd been broken and cowed. (Absolutely classic gang-stalker behaviour!) The scale of the scandal and crisis has its genesis right there:

When Mr Walker first protested, the most blatant abuse was confined to a handful of Members of Parliament. Had the Speaker allowed Mr Walker to curb their excesses then, relatively quietly, the situation wouldn't have got worse, and the majority of MPs wouldn't have been tempted to commit the same error. If it had become public at that stage, it would have been a scandal, but only for those MPs who were the first to stick their hands in the till. The others, who hadn't thus far even thought of acting so basely, would never have thought of it before it became such an obviously bad idea that they never would.

But Speaker Martin didn't allow Mr Walker to stop the corruption then, he insisted that nothing be done. This didn't merely allow it to continue at the same level, which the institution of Parliament might have survived; the temptation became more compelling the longer it went unchecked, the more times honest MPs saw crooked ones fill their pockets with not a word being said, the harder it was to stay honest. Yes, they should have stayed honest, and some of them even have, but it's called corruption because it corrupts and spreads -and that's why it needs to be rooted out, even if it seems to be happening at a low and tolerable level. Because if you allow corruption at all, it never, ever, stays at a low and tolerable level.

Now we have a situation where the Leader of the biggest opposition party, David Cameron, durst not say a single word against the governing party on the issue of corruption, and he appears genuinely unable to understand that the public are absolutely boiling mad about what has happened. The leader of the next biggest opposition party, Nick Clegg, is scoring a few trite points off the governing party (he is a Liberal Democrat and they can never eschew this entirely) but even he is being so visibly careful about where he treads, that you just know his party has a problem as well!

In short, the whole institution of Parliament is corrupted now, and the public is in a mood to see it disposed of. Many of the MPs who are now guilty and unworthy of their office, were capable of serving and retiring with honour, if they hadn't been so immersed in corruption by the Speaker's omission, that they felt they had to swim in that sea or drown.

One doesn't have to be a conspiracy theorist, wildly claiming that all this has been plotted and contrived by a sinister shadow organization of some kind, to see that there's an abundance of unsavoury and dangerous political groups and cults out there, who will seize on this in a flash and exploit it, no matter if it's a pure accident of history or the culmination of a multi-generational masonic conspiracy. It has happened, and it has happened at the most inopportune moment for such a thing in a few centuries of British history. It is a gift to fascists and communitarians of every stamp: they will milk it for all it is worth.

It looks as if a majority of Members of Parliament are now unworthy of their democratic mandate. But they do still have that mandate and are ultimately ruled and bound by it. We are in grave danger of being ruled, instead, by people whose names we're not even expected to know, who have no democratic mandate, do not intend to seek one, ever, and regard the whole concept of democracy, or even the doctrine of a government bound by laws, with sneering disdain.

We must elect a new Parliament and back it to the hilt, against the rising tide of attempts to impose social control by executives and officials acting outside their powers and lawful authority and with no mandate from us. But that new Parliament can only contain those members of the existing one who have resisted temptation, no matter how overwhelming it might have been, and who recognise and acknowledge that a wrong has been done to the country, by its erstwhile rulers. Since the Tory leader fails this last test, no matter who squeaky clean he may be on the first, Medawar does not believe that David Cameron should be returned to Parliament, let alone become Prime Minister. Boris Johnson may yet have to leave his plough! (Boris, Elisha was called from his plough a long time before any Roman was!)

Stop Press: David Cameron dimly realises that Parliament has done something wrong!

And quite a few members of Parliament need to be dealt with in the courts, (and why not some of them in the one that dealt with James Hanratty?) for what they have done.

But when the press have had their day, and the police have had their fun arresting a few MPs and bringing them to court, we must all remember that the one, armed and powerful institution, which has not had any sort of anti-corruption probe or inquiry in decades, is the Metropolitan Police Service. Medawar has been told, that "there are very senior officers who have, quite literally, got away with murder."

If we value human life, as well as our freedom, we must assign Metropolitan Police corruption a priority in our attentions proportionate to crimes allegedly including murder and an open contempt for democracy, whilst not forgetting to assign MPs' corruption a priority proportionate to crimes including fiddling mortgage payments and the odd grocery receipt.


Anonymous said...

We have problems in the States with corruption, nepotism and cronyism. Most of the problems could be eradicated with Congressional term limits laws.

The issue was popular several years ago, but in order to pass the laws, Congress would have to, in essence "shoot themselves in the foot," or pass laws that would put most of them out of office and out of a very high-paying, powerful job!

As it is many have burrowed in, built mansions and homes for their families, and comfortably milk the government pig for all they can get. And there's plenty for their friends back home, but they are no longer a part of "home" once they reach "the Hill." They're a part of a social club.

Some of our most successful Congressman are from some of the most poverty-stricken, highest illiteracy ranking states. It's difficult to reason, if one thinks about it.

It's nearly impossible to have an organization mandate against its own livelihood, and sadder is the fact that duly elected representatives then become a part of a machine that can then work against the very people who gave them power.

The answer to corruption here, is term limits, putting an end to career politics.

It will never happen unless by popular vote.

Medawar said...

The Downing Street online petition system is being more useful than Mr Blair can have intended.

Turkeys don't vote for Christmas, but they can get stuffed and roasted all the same.

Anonymous said...

Here, the only way for permanent and real change in weeding out corruption and old blood money/monopoly is for Americans to begin voting them out in their localities, counties, townships, and then move on to state levels.

Because of our state status, with fifty falling under a federal blanket, there are several layers of bureaucracy. Often the same families, career politicians, and camaraderie have monopolized governments for several decades.

It might be comparable to your "Lords." (?)

Medawar said...

The "layers of government" is far more like the European Union. The House of Lords doesn't administer anything, it merely scrutinizes legislation introduced by the Commons for "error" (such as blatant attempts to dismantle democracy, hence Tony Blair's fairly frequent run-ins with their lordships). Individual peers can amend or even table legislation, but then it goes back to the Commons.

The thing about the EU is: there is an elected parliament and it's frequently paraded before our eyes, but it only has the power to debate legislation: it's the European Commission, not elected in a million years, that drafts, tables and proposes Euro-laws. The European Parliament just costs an awful lot of money and looks pretty.

Within the UK, there's a move to remove a layer of government by merging district/borough councils with county councils to form "unitary authorities", but again, Tony Blair created a new layer of (unelected, you guessed) regional assemblies on top of that. The purpose of which, seemed to be to over-rule councils and give planning permission for developments so dubious that no elected authority would ever pass them.

On the Isle of Man, nothing is law until it has been read out loud at an outdoor meeting of the island's parliament, and if anyone on the electoral register shouts an objection, the parliament has to take that law back and think about it again for another year.

This constitutional arrangement did not evolve there: it came ashore from a longship a along time ago.