Proof if proof be needed

June 02, 2009 11:47 AM

The BBC has commissioned a poll which shows that voters no longer trust MPs to tell the truth, that they think MPs put their own self interest above public service motivation and that more than half of MPs are corrupt.


None of this should come as a massive surprise, really. Recent weeks have seen MP after MP caught with their pants around their ankles and their hands in the taxpayer-funded till.


What did come as a slight surprise, however, is that 80% of people polled believed that MPs were not solely to blame and thought the parliamentary system was at fault. This seems incredibly generous on the part of the British public, and somewhat at odds with what many people have been saying when asked about the issue. 


It's true that the system is broken, and that it allowed almost inconceivable abuses to pass through unnoticed. The Fees Office too, have a portion of blame to accept - in many cases they signed off claims that were not even within the current shoddy rules, and were not thorough in their checks and auditing. 


But the Green Book makes clear, and common sense should dictate, that the onus is on the MP to behave in an honourable manner. Every MP is responsible for their own claims, and many of them displayed a startling lack of judgement and in some cases knowledge of the law, and they must bear the consequences.


It is too easy to excuse MPs shocking behaviour by saying the system allowed it. I suspect what people were trying to say is that the system needs change. We all feel that, but we have to now get the full picture so we can see just who has behaved badly and who has behaved well and, where there has been wrongdoing, hold guilty MPs to account.


It will do nothing to clean up the system or improve the massively damaged reputation of Parliament if MPs do not start taking responsibility for their own actions and get their house in order when it comes to sorting out their own claims. What we really need to hear from politicians from now on is: the buck stops here.  

The BBC has commissioned a poll which shows that voters no longer trust MPs to tell the truth, that they think MPs put their own self interest above public service motivation and that more than half of MPs are corrupt.


None of this should come as a massive surprise, really. Recent weeks have seen MP after MP caught with their pants around their ankles and their hands in the taxpayer-funded till.


What did come as a slight surprise, however, is that 80% of people polled believed that MPs were not solely to blame and thought the parliamentary system was at fault. This seems incredibly generous on the part of the British public, and somewhat at odds with what many people have been saying when asked about the issue. 


It's true that the system is broken, and that it allowed almost inconceivable abuses to pass through unnoticed. The Fees Office too, have a portion of blame to accept - in many cases they signed off claims that were not even within the current shoddy rules, and were not thorough in their checks and auditing. 


But the Green Book makes clear, and common sense should dictate, that the onus is on the MP to behave in an honourable manner. Every MP is responsible for their own claims, and many of them displayed a startling lack of judgement and in some cases knowledge of the law, and they must bear the consequences.


It is too easy to excuse MPs shocking behaviour by saying the system allowed it. I suspect what people were trying to say is that the system needs change. We all feel that, but we have to now get the full picture so we can see just who has behaved badly and who has behaved well and, where there has been wrongdoing, hold guilty MPs to account.


It will do nothing to clean up the system or improve the massively damaged reputation of Parliament if MPs do not start taking responsibility for their own actions and get their house in order when it comes to sorting out their own claims. What we really need to hear from politicians from now on is: the buck stops here.  

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