...a blog by Richard Flowers

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Day 2713: Quis Custodiet Whoops-a-Daisy


The Conservatories are in trouble over MPs and MEPs expenses. Again.

It seems to me that the CULTURE of SECRECY is where the problem begins.

Without OPENNESS, not only do we not know how our money is being spent, the people who are spending it find themselves without any real LIMITS.

The Conservatories REAL problem, then, is that the people in charge are themselves dancing along a thin line of what is right and what is wrong. These are the people who OUGHT to be breaking down the walls of secrecy, but in fact are RESPONSIBLE for MAINTAINING them.

So, we see that the Conservatory leader in the European Parliament, Mr Giles Chipfester – son of famous yachtsperson Sir Francis Fish-and-Chipfester – has had to resign over his expenses.

IRONICALLY enough, Mr Chipfester is the person who drew up the Conservatory MEPs rules about expenses.

Apparently he didn't realise that funnelling four-hundred-and-forty-five-THOUSAND pounds into his family company was against the rules.

"No one bought it to my attention," he said.

(Can someone please quickly draw it to his attention that murder, assault, theft and fraud are likewise against the law!)

Seriously, that’s not a very good excuse when you are the man who is supposed to be bringing those rules to the attention of all the other MEPs.

More IRONICALLY… as it turns out, someone – like maybe the chap with responsibility for drawing up the rules, do you think – should probably have brought these rules to the attention Mr John Purvis, MEP for Scotland, who may have spent the last nine years doing the self-same thing. He even asked for clarification!

It’s even more IRONY-TASTIC then that the Conservatories’ CHIEF-WHIP Mr (I’m not making this one up) Den Dover, has this evening been abruptly replaced… which Mr Balloon assures is nothing to do with the three-quarters of a million pound QUESTION MARK hanging over his payments to his wife and daughter out of – you guessed it – his secretarial expenses.

And now a development that twists into such quite frankly UNBELIEVABLE new dimensions that you have to wonder if there’s some sort of IRONY-GAMI developing.

It turns out that the person to whom all of this has been referred is Conservatory Chairperson Ms Caroline “Magic” Spellperson, with responsibility for – you won’t believe this – cleaning up the Conservatory party. And now she has HERSELF been outed by the Newsnight show as having spent a couple of years spending YOUR money on her child care arrangement but passing it off as constituency secretarial work on her MPs expenses .

Do I detect a PATTERN forming?

It’s all too tempting to sit back and sing the Schadenfreude Song, watching Mr Balloon take a PIE to his big moon face over the totally untrustworthy twits his party is made up of. They’re the same old Conservatories and no amount of Balloon schmaltz can cover up their basic venality.

But Mr Jonny WISELY warns against that, so let’s be more SERIOUS for a moment.

It’s going to do NOTHING at ALL for the reputation of politics or of Europe to discover these scandals. People aren’t going to think “it’s the Conservatories”, they’re going to think “typical politicians”. It’s going to bring people down and spread apathy – the old friend of the status quo.

We need to counter that with OPTIMISM. We need to get people thinking that they CAN make a difference, can make a change.

We need to challenge Mr Balloon – yes, and Mr Frown – right now to a complete root and branch reform, putting all of MPs pay and expenses on an open and independently scrutinised basis. And go further – give Parliament proper powers to investigate MPs and, even more importantly, the government too.

We need to get ALL PARTIES to do this and do it QUICKLY. Yes, that might help the Conservatories – Mr Balloon is BOUND to claim ALL the credit – but it’ll help ALL OF US in the end – and particularly those of us who want to promote POSITIVE CHANGE.

Because “Who watches…” has got to be US, everyone in the country: WE hold Parliament to account, and Parliament has to hold its own members to account and THEN maybe we’ll have some MPs who EARN our trust back again.

No comments: