Two years on…

This is why politicians probably hate blogs, the internet and anything else which counteracts our otherwise fallible memories…

May 18th 2009; House of Commons Speaker Michael Martin says that each and every member of parliament must work hard to regain the public’s trust. He wants discussion to centre on, among other things, “early publication” of expenses details.

May 17th 2007; Gordon Brown – accepting his uncontested nomination as Prime Minister – promises to “build trust in our democracy” through “a more open form of dialogue with citizens and politicians”. “It’s about a different type of politics, a more open and honest dialogue”, he said. He was also quoted as saying “I believe government only works when it’s dedicated to serving the people”.

Perceptive words. Shame about the follow-through.

May 18th 2007; Gordon Brown rejects calls to block David Maclean’s attempt to exempt MPs (and their expenses data) from the Freedom of Information Act. Among others voting in favour of a third reading for the amendment tabled by Mr Maclean (£155,609) were the following Labour ministers:

  • Parmjit Dhanda (£153,906)
  • Maria Eagle (£153,742)
  • Caroline Flint (£158,773)
  • Ian McCartney (£155,746)
  • Tony NcNulty (£134,402)
  • Meg Munn (£144,356)
  • Joan Ryan (£151,954)
  • Phil Woolas (£169,427)

I in no way mean to imply that any of those ministers committed any impropriety in their expenses, but if any were needed, it’s a clear indication of why it’s a bad idea to have MPs deciding, voting on and overseeing their own remuneration.

The same BBC article reports that:

Members of the backbench committee of the Parliamentary Labour Party have also emailed colleagues to say they “feel strongly” that the bill’s measures were “worthy of support”.

None of this makes it easy to believe that there was a strong line coming from the top, encouraging Mr Brown’s subordinates to opt for an “open, honest dialogue” based on the interests of the people.