The honesty or not of British politics, now there is a subject to get stuck into!
This comes about because of a Tweet I need to follow up on, sometimes you just need more space!
shimrodmimir says: @dalewood Yeah you’re right. The UK is well known for it’s complete absence of political corruption scandals. #pleasenotetheirony
Nice little ironic dig at British politics if I ever saw one but just how honest, or dishonest for that matter is British politics?
For a start, in any political institution of over 600 members, whatever the voting system, the law of averages says that someone will be misbehaving, so first we will look at the successful Conservative years 1979 – 1997, when the Conservative administration left office sleaze was a big issue but just how big an issue was it in reality?
Actually, mainly hyped by the Labour party, yes several MP’s resigned for taking cash for questions but it was never proven and of course Jeffrey Archer went to prison for lying in the witness box but this had its origin in infidelity, he appantly lied about an affair and carried on the deception even taking a large sum in compensation from a newspaper which was his downfall when found out! These of course were the days when an affair meant resignation, as in the case of Cecil Parkinson even though he was staying with his wife whilst supporting the child.
Jeffrey Archer also resigned from parliament in the early Thatcher years when he got into trouble with a financial investment in Canada then in earlier years we had the John Stonehouse fiasco, a Labour Minister he got into financial trouble and faked his own death.
The Labour years, 1997 to 2010, brought us an new era of freebe’s in british politics with Labour polititians taking every freebe going, no need anymore to resign over an indescresion and even if ministers resigned for financial reasons they were generally back a short time later! The expenses scandal is what sticks in peoples minds from this era and this effected all parties, it stemmed from the Thatcher era when public opinion was against a much needed pay rise for MP’s and MP’s were given fixed claimable expenses as an alternative, a not uncommon thing in business. Although small at the time these expenses increased dramatically during the Labour years and obviously started to attract attention, this came to ahead when Telegraph Newspapers obtained the full information under the freedom of information act and the proverbial shit hit the fan, week after week after week!
A large number numbere of MP’s had to pay money back, some stood down and a hand full were prosecuted with 2/3 going to prison, they break down into groups as follows:
- MP’s who only claimed the minimum.
Obviously no problem.
- MP’s who claimed the maximum and in fact were encouraged to do so by the Commons Authorities.
This group took a lot of flack but I have a lot of sympathy with them because all the expenses were approved and in many cases they were encouraged to claim, paid back large amounts
- MP’s who blatantly over-claimed
No sympathy and ordered to pay back large amounts, a small number possibly in the 20’s
- MP’s who simply fiddled their expenses
Two are in prison, one or two still pending, no sympathy at all
So, yes we have had and have our scandals but it represented at the serious level a very small number of MP’s, the British parliamentary system is relatively free of corruption and dishonesty and very small beer when compared to our EU cousins.
- Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister who has been embroiled in corruption and sex scandals through his entire periods as Prime Minister
- Jacques René Chirac, the former French President, being charged with corruption during his time as Mayor
- The waste and corruption within the European Union, our expenses are minute compared to those within the European Union and the whole accounts have not been signed off by the auditors for years
The list could go on and on because the attitude over the water is fairly lax toward wrong doing when compared to the UK, our main problem is that the Euro attitudes may become contagious but the good thing is that our ‘First Past the Post’ voting system allows us to give very short shrift to anything that resembles real corruption in politics.
Yes, no matter how you look at it, the UK is still fairly free from real corruption particularly when compared with our EU partners but we have to remember that things our politicians have to resign for are not treated so seriously within the EU and of course their politicians have a PR system to hide behind!
For the time being we should be proud of our political system and its honesty.