Thursday, 25 June 2009

Parliamentary reform? - don't hold your breath

I haven't said much in this blog about the MP's expenses scandal. Why not? Firstly I've been busy with the Euro elections and then away for two weeks, secondly there has been wall to wall coverage everywhere and finally it has proved to be a great distraction from what really matters at the moment - the economic crisis. In fact my last post on the issue was in January well before the Daily Telegraph spilt the beans.

But all this talk of Parliamentary reform brought on by the expenses scandal is old news to many of us. If you read the Guardian you would think that the nation had only just noticed that we had a rotten parliamentary system. Not long ago the likes of Polly Toynbee and Jonathon Freeland were writing as if all was well with the world - all it needed was a few tweaks from Gordon and everything would be hunky dory. But some of us have known that Parliament and the electoral system drastically needed reform - well, for most of our lives. And some of us have known that Gordon would continue exactly where Blair left off er.. ever since he became Prime Minister - as I made clear in April 2008.

For example, there has been talk of introducing electoral reform for decades. When I was a teenager in the early 1970s I couldn't understand why we had an unelected House of Lords. Our system has clearly been rotten and bankrupt for a very long time, and, despite the overwhelming case for change, nothing has happened.

Nor is very much likely to happen because we live in an elected dictatorship. All power is in the hands of the government (increasingly the Prime Minister) with no checks or balances. We have no written constitution, and in the past 400 years or so politicians have gradually taken over powers which used to belong to the monarch. Combine that with a first past the post system which virtually guarantees a monopoly of power for the two main parties and what politician would want to change it? An honest one perhaps? One who believed in social justice? Now when was the last time we had one of those in Number 10?


Anonymous said...

Wasn't this the same Polly Toynbee who walked through a picket line when she didn't agree with a strike?!


Howard Thorp said...

Yes, I'm sure you are right.