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calendar   Wednesday - May 20, 2009

FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME IN 300 YEARS OF BRIT HISTORY … AND ABOUT TIME TOO.  NOW THEN ..

LET’S SEE WHAT GOOD CAN COME FROM THE RECENT SCANDAL !

There are heads on the block following 13 continuous days of revelations concerning the sneaky underhanded and maybe illegal ways in which MPs have been robbing the Brit taxpayer blind.  They have been doing so for years, but not with the kind of proof that lately has come to light.  And the people are angry.

I really do hope some sort of good will come from all this and the folks here will find the leadership to put things right.  Truly tho, I despair. I really don’t have any sort of faith in anyone. But then, it really doesn’t matter what I think as I’m not a voter or even a citizen.  But we do pay taxes here.  OH BOY, DO WE PAY!  And all so a group of folks who feel very special can mooch off of everyone else.  Like welfare cheats of whom there are too many.

Many of these MPs have done things that we ordinary mortals would be fined and jailed for. And that is not a figure of speech but an absolute fact of the current matter.  I doubt much any Brit of any political party would disagree with me on that.

The Telegraph ran this editorial in the morning paper.  Even if some names won’t be familiar to some, it makes for interesting reading.
This is after all, the first time in 300 years that a speaker has seen the boot.  In earlier times some have been given the ax.  But this is not ALL about the speaker alone.  It’s my belief that this might be a very defining moment in English history.  Stay Tuned.


Speaker Michael Martin’s downfall: Only the start of a very British revolution

Telegraph View: Michael Martin’s departure amid the MPs’ expenses scandal is the clearest sign that this Parliament has run its course.

Last Updated: 8:18PM BST 19 May 2009

The resignation of Michael Martin as Speaker marks the latest stage of a very British revolution. While his departure has been precipitated by his fumbling and inadequate response to this newspaper’s disclosures about MPs’ expenses, it reflects a collapse of public faith in the political system that has been evident for some time. Over the past 12 years we have seen a Government with an overwhelming parliamentary majority turn the Commons into a cipher for often perverse decisions. It has burdened the Commons and the country with pointless and even dangerous legislation. People feel their political representatives are aloof and arrogant. Now, in addition, they think they are venal, too. In a characteristically British way, we have all put up with this for far too long – there have been no marches, no riots, no clashes with the police. The public has now decided it is time for change: its fury has forced apologies, repayments, suspensions and resignations; constituency parties are threatening deselections; MPs are voluntarily deciding to stand down; the Speaker has been forced out, for the first time in 300 years.

When he was elected on October 23, 2000, Mr Martin said: “I thank the House for its confidence in me. I pray that I shall prove worthy of that confidence and that all of us will maintain the high tradition of this place.” He was living proof of Thomas Rainsborough’s dictum during the Putney Debates in 1647 that “the poorest he hath a life to live as the greatest he”. Born into poverty in a Glasgow tenement, Mr Martin had risen to become the First Commoner of the Land. It is his tragedy, and that of Parliament, that he could not live up to the expectations placed in him. Indeed, the manner of his election contained the seeds of his downfall: it was, in essence, a political stitch-up whereby an MP for the governing party was installed in the chair through the mechanism of a massive Labour majority, when parliamentary convention suggested that an Opposition MP would have been more appropriate.

Not only was Mr Martin the wrong choice; he turned out to be a catastrophic one as well. His fate is symbolic of the rottenness of a political system that was once the envy of the world. That system now lies broken and demoralised. With its sovereignty already dissipated by the power of the European Union, the role of the House in scrutinising legislation has been further undermined by the placing of time limits on all debates; the hours it sits have shrunk, the chamber is often virtually empty, and MPs routinely fail to articulate the concerns and aspirations of the people who elect them. Westminster has sunk into a slough of despond. The dwindling turnout at successive elections is testament to what the country thinks of the system. Mr Martin, as Speaker, has presided over this sorry shambles.

The expenses crisis is symptomatic of his failure and of the wider malaise that has beset the institution. The argument that he should not be made a scapegoat for the failings of MPs ignores the fact that he is, in addition to chairing debates, effectively the chief executive of the Commons. As its administrative head in overall charge of the fees office, Mr Martin should have taken a grip on the abuse of allowances by MPs; instead, he turned a blind eye to it and then conspired to cover it all up by attempting to exempt MPs from the Freedom of Information scrutiny they had imposed on the rest of the public sector.

Even that, however, does not explain why his resignation is necessary. There have been poor Speakers in the past whose demise has been hastened by a visit from the men in suits; there have been unpopular ones; there have been corrupt ones. It has always been said that the institution is greater than the office holder, and its gravitas must therefore be maintained at all costs. It is, then, a measure of the constitutional crisis now consuming Westminster that rebuilding the integrity of the Commons is only possible with a new Speaker at the helm.

MPs must choose the right person on June 22. It must be an individual who has not been tainted by the current second-homes scandal; who commands respect on all sides of the House; who has the intelligence, independence of thought, authority and strength of will to represent the interests of MPs against the executive, both this one and the next. It is a rare animal that is being sought. There is no reason why it should not be another Labour MP. Indeed, it should not matter which party the Speaker belongs to. It is a mark of the damage caused to the office by the perception, whether fair or not, that Mr Martin was “Labour’s man” that political considerations should be at issue. It is the character of the individual that matters, not party allegiance. The next Speaker will be more powerful than many of his predecessors. He or she will be chosen by secret ballot, introduced because of the circumstances of Mr Martin’s election, and so there will be less opportunity for the party gerrymandering that happened then.

Yet for all that the resignation of the Speaker is an exceptional event in British politics, it is still not enough. The Government is bereft of ideas, Whitehall decision-making is frozen and the Prime Minister is drained of all authority. It is clear that this Parliament has run its course. Once the new Speaker is installed, a general election should follow soon after. Gordon Brown should set aside party considerations, and go to the country this autumn. With a new start, the institution can be refreshed. That is the British way and it is still a good one.


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 05/20/2009 at 11:30 AM   
Filed Under: • Daily LifeGovernmentCorruption and GreedPoliticsUK •  
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