I wrote the piece below to vent my anger at the apparent immunity some MPs seemed to have to action being taken against them for the expenses scandal. There was also an underlying theme of the honour, or lack of, displayed by some. The news recently of the behaviour of MP for Falkirk Eric Joyce in the Strangers Bar left me cold. Drink does different things to different people and we have all seen those that become more benign and those, at the other end of the scale, that become more aggressive when they have had too much to drink.
However, every action has consequences and you would think that the realisation of that would be a severely moderating factor in the workplace. Not for Joyce it appears who seriously assaulted other MPs and Researchers. I find it difficult to understand the mindset of somebody in a position of responsibility, in such a high profile position and a position of trust and national importance can behave like that and still feel he is the rightful holder of that position.
Joyce has stood in front of the House and apologise. He has had the Labour Whip withdrawn ( or as he puts it - has resigned from the Labour Party) but he is still an MP representing the people of Falkirk. He happens to be the MP for the constituency in which one of my family live and will not be receiving his vote come election time.
In the Daily Mail today Qentin Letts seems to think that his behaviour makes him more interesting than than many other, more normal MPs. I wonder if his view would have been the same if he had been on the receiving end of Joyce's headbutts. Mind you it might have knocked some sense into him!.
I grew up believing that all M.P's were the very pillars of our society selflessly devoting their lives to serving the public. How naive I was then and how terminally naive would I be now if I still believe the same thing. Every walk of professional life includes people who are not good at what they do, have dubious motives and stand the wrong side of acceptable and honourable behaviour. The overriding motives for such people is usually self interest. Equally, every profession includes those people who are selfless, talented and extremely good at what they do and Members of Parliament are no different.
However, the emergence of widespread opportunism underpinning the expenses debacle, let us see too many M.P.s in a new light. I still cannot understand why some were successfully prosecuted for dishonestly claiming money to which they were not entitled and yet others were not. I have recently been reminding myself of the case of Baroness Uddin, the Labour Peer who falsely claimed £125,000 and consequently was suspended from the House for 18 months and ordered to repay the money. To date she has not done so claiming that she is too poor, despite owning three houses between her and her husband. Apparently the Lords is powerless to make her do so before returning in April. Her equally tainted colleagues Hanningfield and Taylor have vowed to do so. When she returns no doubt she will use the tax-payer funded expenses to fund the repayments. Why has she not been prosecuted and why have the bailiffs not been sent in to recover the money? It seems that it is one rule for us and very much another for them. Another pillar of our society, the House of Lords is crumbling before our eyes. Uddin should not be allowed to return.
When I look at the wider picture of the M.Ps life when they leave parliament I become very uncomfortable. I consider there to be something obscene about the way that Tony Blair has managed to acquire himself a very substantial fortune since leaving office. Peter Mandelson's purchase of multi-million pounds houses has made his personal finances a subject of considerable speculation in the national press.
None of us are privy to the basis on which Government Ministers make their decisions whilst in office. I often read in amazement some of the decisions that are made and wonder at the thought process that was employed. However, I reserve my major concern for my belief that on occasions decisions appear to be made with one eye to a post-political career rather than in the interests of the people they serve. Very often these matters are brought into focus once they leave office.
I believe the government policy formulation system to be deeply flawed as it is all too often short termism to try to boost the Government's support at the next election. Few governments seem to invest in many policies for the future, beyond the current parliament for fear that they may not be the recipients of credit if it produces results for any opposing party at some time in the future.
M.Ps have deservedly received a terrible press in recent years and I have little sympathy for them. I long for representatives in whom we can trust, who dedicate their lives to making a difference to all people in our society in a fair and equitable way. Representatives who display the highest standards of integrity and behaviour, who, once they leave office remain well thought of by the people they have served selflessly. How naive is that?