Tuesday, December 29, 2009

'No Expenses Spared' - unfinished business.

Just finished reading 'No Expenses Spared' (the inside story of the scoop which changed the face of British politics - by the team that broke it). Even though I was one of those who devoured the coverage that began on 9th May 2009 about what some of our MPs had claimed as expenses, I was still totally gripped, and comprehensively re-shocked, by this book. For any aspiring MP, its a must-read. The final words before the epilogue are those of David Cameron. He has a talent for encapsulating the public mood in the right words.

"What the Daily Telegraph did - the simple act of providing information to the public - has triggered the biggest shake up in our political system for years.

Information alone has been more powerful than years of traditional politics. Of course it has been a painful time for politics and for individual politicians - but let us be clear, it is without question a positive development for the country.

It is information - not a new law, not some regulation - just the provision of information that has enabled people to take on the political class, question them, demand answers, and get those answers. That's exactly as it should be."

But the story lies unfinished. The people have not yet had their say. When it became clear that public confidence in the current Parliament had been terminally undermined, a General Election should have been called. It wasn't, and the second huge explosion of 2009, a world-wide financial crisis has taken 'Expensesgate' off the front pages. But it will be back. There will almost certainly be more resignations in the New Year, and the publication of Sir Thomas Legg's letters to MPs demanding repayments will probably produce more headlines over the next few weeks. And so they should. The next Parliament will be faced with huge challenges, the greatest of which will be to begin the process of reducing the public debt that will have been bequeathed by the current Government. The General Election will be about choosing the representatives that the voters believe have the character and integrity to undertake the task - and the removal of those whom the public have lost faith in. Only then can the final chapter of 'No Expenses Spared' be written.

8 comments:

Frank H Little said...

I trust that the book gives due credit to Norman Baker MP and the young Anglo-American journalist (whose name I have sadly forgotten) who opened the door with their Freedom Of Information requests.

Frank H Little said...

The lady mentioned in my previous comment was Heather Brooke.

Glyn Davies said...

Frank - It gives much credit to the work of Heather Brooke, and also credits Norman Baker. Particular praise is made of the role played by John Wick, who was the link between the 'leaker' and the Telegraph. In general, I'd judge the book to be politically non-partisan, as was the Telegraph coverage - though I can understand why Gordon Brown's office thought it unfair. Its a very good read for anyone interested in how our political system works. You will be stunned by the scale of abuse and deception that went on.

AJC said...

But no MP (or member of the Lords) has yet been prosecuted.

One of the first acts of the next Parliament should be to institute a "Vindictive Retribution Commission".

Anonymous said...

what did the book have to say about opik.

Glyn Davies said...

AJC - It is difficult to understand how some of the claims are not deemed fraudulent, and worthy of prosecution. I suppose "It was approved by the Fees Office" provides a basis for a defence. We will have to wait and see whether prosecutions do follow. They might.

Anon - There was much mockery on Pages 212/213 - but no reference to reports about claiming ACA on a property he was renting out.

Anonymous said...

There was no comment on the renting out of his property because the Mail have only just broken that story. It really is a scandal and he should be made to explain it. He also rents out his property in Frankwell Street, Newtown and does not declare that either. This from the MP who was housing spokesman for the Libs till they saw what a liability he was....

Anonymous said...

And he STILL does not get it.....
In today's Pandora column in the Indy, he mentions how he'd like to see a Hollywood film of his life story. Yes, it ws meant to be a joke. But, no Lembit, because of your saddo lifestyle, it came over as pathetic. When on earth is Lembit Opik going to start getting the fact that people regard him as a joke at best, a dangerous car crash at worst?