Sunday, March 21, 2010

Another desperate day for democracy.

Almost three years ago I was selected by Montgomeryshire Conservatives as their candidate for the General Election we expect on May 6th. It was one of the first selections in Britain by 'open primary'. I had just (surprisingly - to me anyway) lost my position as a member of the National Assembly for Wales, after eight enjoyable years. Proportional representation can sometimes be akin to roulette. Whatever, the point I want to make is that, at the time, I had felt sufficiently valued and respected by the people I'd represented, to be keen to stand as a candidate for election to the House of Commons.

And then a young American journalist named Heather Brooke started asking questions about the expenses being claimed by some of our MPs. Her story was printed in today's Mail on Sunday. Her full story will be published on April 1st by William Heinemann in a book called 'The Silent State'. The full horror of what had been going on was eventually made public by the Daily Telegraph. If you think you can stand it, the Telegraph reporters, Robert Winnett and Gordon Rayner published their book, called 'No Expenses Spared' last year. No issue has ever done such damage to the reputation of the British Parliament. It is entirely understandable that many of the British people hold politicians in utter contempt. Many of the culprits are not contesting the coming General Election. But many of them are. The future of British democracy depends on the voters not having forgotten.

You really would have thought that MPs would have learned the lesson. But No. I personally know of a non-declaration of income/benefit - that should have been declared. And of a six day 'freebie' trip on a luxury cruise when Parliament was sitting. These things have become so commonplace that they are not even reported on. And then today, we have another full-blown scandal. Just listen to this from Stephen Byers. And read this in today's Sunday Times. And here by Iain Dale. And here on Guido's blog. Its mind-numbing stuff. How can Stephen Byers, exposed by words emanating from his own mouth, ever again enter through the portals of the House of Commons without shame. And is it possible to believe this is an isolated incident? After watching the sheer casualness with which he perpetrated such outrageous behaviour, is it possible to believe that 'payment for access' is not common? I note that David Cameron has called for a Commons Inquiry. It needs to be carried out in the next two weeks. How can voters have confidence in MPs after this. 'Lobbygate' is as bad as the Expensesgate'. Please don't let it pollute the next Parliament as well. Decent people are just going to walk away.


Anonymous said...

There's a scandal with our very own "MP" here in Montgomeryshire. He has JUST registered a TWENTY GRAND payment he received last summer for spilling the beans on his saddo love life. He ONLY did this because the Mail exposed the fact he hadn't done so.
On top of that, we have the freebie luxury cruise, which btw he also got paid for, his dodgy espenses claims - not just wigs, cameras and unpaid counil tax fines, but also masses on building work ( and even decking!) at his London flat, which is alread worth over double the amount he paid for it, and then there's the immoral earnings he gets for "writing" in that porno rag, the Dail Sport. Not to mention the fact he lived with hid fiancee whilst claiming rent on his London flat. Never mind Byers & co, we have our very own scandal here in Mid Wales. It beats me why the people of Newtown, Welshpool etc aren't up in arms and asking this grasping MP for answers

Ali Nicoll said...

If you know someone has not declared something, why not report that person to the authorities?

Anonymous said...

Go on Glyn, spill the beans!!! We'd love to know who it is (if we can't already guess...)

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - I allowed this comment after some consideration. While its all factually correct, there's an aggressive tone that detracts from its impact.
According to Register of Member's Interests, the £20,000 fee was paid on 9th March 2009, but not registered until 4th March 2010. I heard about it sometime in Febuary. This is just not acceptable. The 'freebie' cruise while Parliament was sitting was truly outrageous. And I agree totally about the rubbish he writes for the Daily Sport - which is damaging to the good name of Montgomeryshire. These matters have received much coverage in the national media, but are generally ignored locally, so many of the voters know nothing about them.

Ali - But we have seen that the 'authorities' are totally incapable of doing anything about it. It is only when the media decide to run with an issue that anything happens.

Anonymous said...

the voters of montgomeryshire dont care one bit about what their mp does. when they are in the voting booth they will vote liberal like they aleways dfo.

frankie said...

In response to Anon 11.09am. On the contrary, voters in Montgomeryshire do mind very much that we are represented in parliament by an embarrassing fool. I personally don't know anyone who is prepared to vote for him again. Even die hard Liberals have had enough and are voting for the man - Glyn Davies - even though he's a Tory, rather than suffer another 5 years of a publicity grasping tw*t.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1 really is in a rant.

I think you'll find not all of those claims got made/approved.

A bit like that Tory duck island. Fmously put in, torn apart by the media but the HoC never actually paid out for it.

Anonymous said...

Would you like to make a PR on this maybe? Take the fight to your opponent?