Saturday, February 06, 2010

Another terrible day for democracy.

Yesterday, we learned that 3 Members of Parliament and a member of the House of Lords are to face criminal charges for claiming expenses to which they were not due. We were also told that a majority of MPs have been asked to repay some of the expenses that they had previously claimed. I suspect that many of these over-claims were innocent mistakes. I also suspect that many other not so 'innocent' mistakes, or claims which the voters would think outrageous were not included in Sir Thomas Legg's report. What I think of all this is of little consequence, but what is of consequence is that the people of Britain find it outrageous and shameful. Since that first day when the Telegraph began its exposure of what had been going on, the people have grown ever more incredulous. They would have been entitled to think that it could not get any worse. Well, today it did.

Unbelievably, we learned today that the three MPs who have been charged with committing a criminal offence are trying to claim 'Parliamentary privilege' to avoid prosecution. Apparently, this 'privilege' dates back to 1689. They are claiming that their election as Members of Parliament granted them the legal right to steal money from the state (allegedly), and to cheat the state (allegedly) without fear of criminal sanction. Its sounds unreal, but it's not - and its happening in Britain today.

What a tragedy it is that a General Election was not called last year. For almost a year, the UK has suffered under the yoke of a stinking rotten parliament. The reputation of politicians, guilty and innocent has been trashed, and will be further trashed by today's extraordinary developments. And nothing will change (nor should it) until a General Election is held. The people must have their say. We're not in a position to find anyone guilty of a criminal offence, and have to await the judgement of the courts before doing so. But we can judge MPs who claim its proper in law to hide behind parliamentary privilege to avoid answering criminal charges. We should judge them harshly because of the damage they have delivered to our already tottering democracy.


Anonymous said...

glyn have you read about the shame of mick bates in the wales on sunday.

bonetired said...

Glyn: what worries me is that the lead that we (yes WE!!) have over Labour is narrowing! This is a stinking, rotten carcase of a government that is thrashing about in its death throws and yet they are gaining upon the Tories. They are leaving traps for us all over the place - see today's Sunday Times article about Harmans Equality Bill which as admitted in the article, will be very difficulut to unpick by any future administration.

The Tories must get their act together - Cameron's errors over tax and marriage (which at one level at least was honest) has been used time and time again by Labour to attack us to the point that it sounds as if the needle is stuck - and we are running out of time. The Tories must put forwards arguments that are clear, decisive and practical. We are going to sleep walk into a hung parlialiament when we should have a decent working majority.

Go get 'em Glyn !!

Anonymous said...

What worries me is that our own "MP" is getting away with it too.....This is a man who lived off his fiancee whilst claiming for a flat in London, which he in turn rented out to others. Why have the local papers not made more of this? This is a man who unbelievably claimed for his legal fees when faced with a council tax summons when he didn't bother to pay. This is a man who claimed for a wig, masses on building work, a camera etc etc, who's party have avery dubious way of working out their rental on their Newtown office, who goes on cruises for free whilst meant to be working for us....all this without even going in to his personal life

Glyn Davies said...

Sorry but I've had to reject several comments that make direct accusations of drunkenness and verbal abuse. Unless I witness something myself, and its relevent to their public life, I don't think its fair to allow such comments. This is an important story because it involves accusations of abuse against hospital staff, but none of us know for certain whether what has been reported is true.

Bonetired - I genuinely take almost no notice of opinion polls. It does seem that they have become a bit less favourable over the last month. The only poll that counts etc... Luckily for me, I've never assumed victory at the next election, even though I desperately want to see a change at Westminster and in Montgomeryshire, where I would prefer to see any one of four of the candidates win rather than the incumbant. You are right in that we have a massive fight on our hands, against a Labour Government that has a 'scorched earth' approach and a readiness to resort to almost anything to win.

Anon - But the national press have covered all this stuff, even if its not been covered locally. Even the BBC woke up to the truth of the Legg report, after being conned on its early morning news programmes last Thursday. In general I refuse to publish comments like yours, but I've had so many that I decided to allow one through.

merellob said...

I’m not Welsh Lib-Dem lover, but if the story is true that he was knocked unconscious then in the context of due process it could be argued that Mick Bates was a victim of the injuries he suffered and from a legal perspective lacked mens rea (guilty mind). In this fact pattern MB was not in control of his mind due to physical injury to his head and consequent deleterious impact on his mental faculties. Now, if he was merely drunk and did not have a head injury then he has mens rea by default. Anyway, what happened here? Mere verbal abuse from someone with a head injury?

alanindyfed said...

Better postpone your ambition Glyn and save your energies to campaign for a Welsh parliament and then join that one, leaving Westminster to rot!

Glyn Davies said...

merellob - I'm sure we will be told what happened in due course.

Alan - I don't think you will have a satisfactory devolution settlement unless there are MPs at Westminster who are deeply committed to making that happen.