Outside the marginals

A commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010, 2015 & 2017 elections (and THAT referendum)

Archive for the category “Expenses Scandal”

Enemies of the People

The country is split; horribly horribly split. This week’s High Court judgement has opened the split even more.

But dig deeper and it is not a Brexit vs Anti-Brexit split. It is a deeper and more dangerous split amongst the people of this country. The split is between those who have given up on the major institutions of the country (Parliament, Judiciary, City, “Mainstream Media”) – as well as the EU and all its institutions – and those who are still trying to have faith in some of the institutions.

Read more…


Good MP, Bad MP, Less Bad MP?

Earlier this year there was comment about an MP who had got in to “marital difficulties”. The actual story is possibly of little interest today, but the coverage is an interesting illustration of how the media can influence us. What follows is a review of just part of one story.

I normally try to reference most posts; I am not this time as the MP’s personal difficulties are not the object of this post, so I will try to maintain a bit of their privacy. The prurient can always use Google. Read more…

The Crisis of Indirect Democracy and its Consequences

Indirect democracy is a fragile child. In effect we say we (“democratically”) elect representatives to a body that then “does governing for us”. This is in stark contrast to direct democracy – which in its most extreme state has everybody having a vote on everything.

Parliaments should be shining examples of indirect democracy at work. They consist of “representatives”, not mandated delegates, who collectively form a body that should be recognised as “representative”. Their legitimacy depends, I believe, on three factors.

  • Whether elections to the parliament are recognised as “free and fair”
  • Whether the resulting parliament is recognised as “representative”
  • Whether the parliament through its collective actions and the actions of its members retains the “respect of the people”.

In the UK, I think we are, to a degree, failing on all three of the above. Read more…

Unconsciously Uncoupling the United Kingdom

I am feeling increasingly uncomfortable about the approaching Scottish Independence Referendum.

I write as a typically mongrel Briton with ancestors from Scotland, Ireland and England (yet to discover any Welsh). I live just south of the border, so I have no vote. Without grandparents born in Scotland, I will not have any post-independence right to Scottish citizenship. I will have significant “foreign” roots and foreign cousins.

Salmond has played his campaign with great skill whilst the Anti/No Campaign/”Better Together” group seem (from this side of the border) to have little traction and no consistent coherent message.

I don’t want to see an Independent Scotland but I am becoming convinced that independence is best for those living in Scotland. Read more…

Resigning and Redundancy

I don’t get it. “Embattled Culture Secretary” Maria Miller has resigned. Good – it was overdue in my view.

Now the BBC is reporting (News Channel 23:00 9 April 2014) that “she is giving her redundancy payment to a local charity”. According to the BBC Website the pay-off she is entitled to on leaving the cabinet is £17,000.
BBC News Website 9 April 2014: Maria Miller quits: Cameron defends ‘honest’ Parliament

*(The first £30,000 of Redundancy payments is tax-free)

Resign? AND Redundancy Payment? Does not compute! Read more…

Scots can escape Westminster’s expenses mire; wish I could

Once again we have a Westminster Scandal.

The culture secretary, 50, is under fire after she was forced to apologise to the House of Commons for over-claiming mortgage costs in relations to her second home parliamentary allowance before 2009.
BBC News Website 6 April 2014: Profile: Maria Miller

(From my hearing of the apology she appear to be apologising not for over-claiming, but for obstructing the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards investigation).

This stinks (from so many directions) and I wish I could disassociate myself from this rotten wretched Westminster system. Could this be the final tipping point for Scots considering how to vote in the independence referendum? Read more…

Party Funding – another try to get us to pay for politicing

In today’s Guardian,  Andrew McDonald (who stepped down as chief executive of Ipsa this week), attempts to persuade us that we should pay for political parties:

And yes, any solution will require a significant increase in public funding of parties. Of course the taxpayer funding will be unpopular, but surely it is preferable to the next scandal over party donations and the further erosion of trust in our political system.
Guardian 3 April 2014, Let the public pay for political parties

No, Read more…

Improving Democracy: MPs with prior proper jobs

Yesterday’s Radio 4 PM (26 November 2013) discussion on the theme “Improving democracy” advocated the idea that MPs should have had a “proper job” for 10 years, should also have done some form of voluntary work and should possibly be paid more. Read more…

McShane and MPs’ view of themselves

Ex-Labour MP Denis MacShane has pleaded guilty to false accounting over parliamentary expenses.

During a hearing at the Old Bailey in London, Mr MacShane admitted false accounting by putting in fake receipts for £12,900 of “research and translation” services.
BBC News website 18 November 2013 Ex-MP Denis MacShane pleads guilty over expenses

Sir Alistair Graham, the former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said, “MPs still feel quite bitter about the salary they receive” (BBC One 10 O’clock News 18 November 2013)

Sir Alistair may not have been condoning the behaviour – but he is very close to excusing it. This scale of fiddling is very difficult to excuse – even by the former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. Read more…

A Free Press?

What do we mean by a free press? Is it another marker of what we mean by a “modern democracy”? We have so many models. Read more…

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