Saturday, February 06, 2010

Clegg and Cameron Say No Privilege Defence: Brown Silent

Nick Clegg and David Cameron, leaders of the Liberal Democrat and Conservative parties respectively, have agreed that the three MPs facing criminal charges over their expenses should not claim privilege as a defence. Cameron said he was disgusted and Clegg that the public would be outraged if Elliot Morely, David Chaytor and Jim Devine used their stated 1689 Bill of Rights defence of privilege.

While Cameron is saying he will say more at a press conference on Monday Nick Clegg speaking at the Welsh Lib Dem conference said:

"Lawmakers shouldn't be above the law and they should not be invoking 17th century conventions in order to avoid paying their expenses".

However, the Prime Minister has been quiet on the specifics neither distance himself from the individuals or offering support. He been talking generically:

"We have taken the action necessary to clean up politics, but I am determined now to reconnect Parliament and the public, to bring politics back to the people. It's their Parliament, not ours.

"This expenses scandal has been a scar on democracy and has done great damage to the reputation of parliament. We are putting the discredited old system behind us and I want to see the new system in place as soon as possible."

He went on to talk about his Alternative Vote proposal as his trump card to clean up this mess. The fact that he is having a daily attendance allowance rather than an itemised, individual, receipt based expenses system shows that he has failed to understand the public's desire for transparency for their MPs.

As Mark Thompson pointed out our electoral system does appear to have some contribution to play in these scandals, he's also pointed how how disproportional AV is and would actually have returned Labour a bigger majority in 1997. Hardly a way to replace a discredited system with one that can be manipulated just as much by the party machinery to get their way.

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