Monday, April 14, 2008

Institutional Decadence

In today's Guardian we have yet more evidence that the Commons has, with a few honourable exceptions, become utterly emasculated and decadent.

Douglas Carswell, MP and contributor to this site, wrote, in the Mail on Sunday, that "speaker [Michael] Martin must go". This isn't, outside SW1, very controversial at all. Michael Martin is the speaker who has spent thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money in a vain attempt to prevent the public seeing the bills they've been paying for MPs' expenses. He is trying to keep MPs' expenses secret while there are serious concerns about his own use of the taxpayer's pound to pay taxi fares when his wife goes shopping. His spokesman resigned for giving "an inaccurate account" of these trips.

While some might disagree with Carswell's call for Martin to resign he has only echoed similar calls from groups outside parliament - including the TaxPayers' Alliance and former independent MP and war reporter Martin Bell. The call should hardly be a surprise or a shock.

However, the response today suggests that the Commons is trying to close ranks.

"[Denis] MacShane said yesterday that the public attack on Martin was part of a plot to discredit the government and parliamentary institutions. "David Cameron must take steps to rein in this campaign and he should discipline Mr Carswell," he said."

An MP should be disciplined for representing the views of his constituents and the public at large? MacShane has a nerve.

It gets worse:

"Tory whips were said to be likely to have "a quiet word" with Carswell, mainly to warn him such a public attack would be counterproductive and end up with him not being called to speak during debates."

A "quiet word" to warn that saying sensible things on an issue of great public concern is "counterproductive". What kind of pseudo-oligarcy do these people think they are running?

If they're worried about not being called during debates there are two options for the Conservatives:

  1. If they all speak out then the Speaker can hardly refuse to call the entire opposition.

  2. Grow a spine and stop being so pathetically easy to intimidate.

What will really be "counterproductive" is this new, shameful attempt to silence criticism of the Speaker. When the public rightly think that the Speaker is attempting a cover-up of the details of MPs' expenses the idea that a new cover-up is being launched to protect the Speaker himself will strike most as utterly contemptuous of the public that MPs are supposed to serve.

Cross-posted from CentreRight.Com

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