Monday, May 25, 2009

Let there be a little sympathy for them.

Judged the floats at Welshpool Carnival today - along with Lembit Opik MP. An unlikely team you might think. In fact, I've always got along quite well with him. Our discussion turned to the impact of the Telegraph coverage of MP's expenses on the mental state of the politicians themselves. It was an issue that Matt Withers covered in yesterday's Wales on Sunday as well. The headline 'Spare us the Sob Stories' informs us that Matt was not very sympathetic. For once, Matt and I do not think as one.

I recognise the inevitability that all those MPs who have acted 'improperly' (deliberate choice of woolly word) should step down as MPs, and anyone guilty of fraud should be prosecuted. But at the same time, I do have sympathy with many MPs in the present situation. Many years ago I found myself in a similar place, when I resigned as a Quango Chairman. I feel that I know the desperation that some of these people might be going through. Its the sense of injustice (whether justified or not) that weighs so heavily. To be 'tried' and judged in a national newspaper, with no effective means of defence, while holding a genuine certainty in one's own integrity and 'innocence' generates a mental turmoil that is very difficult to control. Its not really anger, or outrage, or sadness, but a sort of illogical 'blackness' that overwhelms rational thought. My own reaction was to search out solitude and silence. I'm told now that it caused much concern to the family at the time. I like to think that none of our friends noticed, but the reality was that I lost a few months of my life. Only fully recovered when I signed up for a course at Aberystwyth University and became consumed in academic study. Occasionally, I still get worked up about the injustice of it - but I always keep it bottled up.

Now this is not any sort of defence of MPs who fail the test of 'reasonableness'. Its not even disagreement with Matt's instruction to spare us the sob stories. Its just that I want to own up to being perhaps the only non-MP in Britain who feels sympathy. The only sensible response is to put up with it, and say nothing. If it is "unbearable for any human being to deal with" as Nadine Dorries tells us, its time to vacate the kitchen. Any attempt to justify or challenge will only make matters worse. No-one wants to hear, or believe anything that our MPs are saying at present - and won't until the people have had their say in a General Election.


Anonymous said...

I do have some sympathy with those MPs who did not act improperly, and did not make outrageous claims - but surely they should have made more effort to press for a change of the system in the first place. As for the rest of them, they deserve what they get!

Cup of tea said...

A simple question:

In light of recent government health and safety advice, should members of the public be advised to wear earmuffs when listening to 'squealing pigs’ (MP’s excuses)?

Apparently the noise among certain MP's about to receive expense cheques can reach 100 decibels.

Anonymous said...

Why on earth would you feel sympathy for Lembit Opik, when he rented out his flat whilst livin with his then fiancee, tried to put through a staggering bill for a TV for £2,499, and claimed £40 fOR court summons bcause he didn't pay his council tax? ANY MP who failed to pay his council tax should go, but to then claim it from the taxpayer due to his failure defies belief. How dare he. And why on earth are you going gently on him and his chating of us the taxpayers? Lembit Opik does not get it, and from what you're blogging, neither do you

Glyn Davies said...

Roman - A very fair point - and the main reason why the whole Parliament is discredited. Your view is widely held. It was not sufficient to know and say nothing.

anon - I have not referred to any individual. My sympathy is reserved for those who are unfairly reported as having abused the system. I do have enough knowledge to know who these MPs are. I admit that I did make a reference to one of my friends a few days ago, but it was not in any judgemental way as far as this expenses issue is concerned. You and everyone else are able to form an opinion on my MP without any guidance from me.