Clegg: public has been "betrayed" by Parliament's response to #mpsexpenses

by Stephen Tall on July 23, 2009

Nick Clegg has been putting the quiet days of summer to good use, attracting considerable media coverage. Yesterday saw the launch of the party’s pre-manifesto A Fresh Start for Britain. Today Nick fired a broadside in the Telegraph against Labour for failing to address the real problems underpinning public anger over the MPs’ expenses scandals:

If you had said to me two months ago that we would go on a three-month recess and all we would have was this insipid Standards Bill, and that nothing substantial had been changed, I wouldn’t have believed it.

“The whole momentum for change was so great after what The Telegraph did; I think people are entitled to feel betrayed.

“This was a pledge that all political leaders made – to clean up our act. But all the signs are that it was hot air.

“The sum total of it is this little Bill which is a mouse compared to the real task. It is a baby step; it needs to be followed up by far, far more radical reform. If we don’t go further, the political scandals will be back in the future.

“I am so dismayed by the lack of progress of the last few weeks and so disappointed that Gordon Brown is trying to hype up this small measure as the be all and end all.”

“The Bill is fine as far as it goes, but the idea that Gordon Brown has that this has been done and dusted is patent nonsense. It is one piece of the jigsaw, but we need to change the rotten culture at Westminster for good.”

It’s worth remembering what could by now have been achieved if Labour had chosen to adopt Nick’s 100 Day Action Plan to Save Britain’s Democracy, announced almost two months ago. If Labour had the vision and courage we could by now be celebrating:

  • full acceptance by Parliament of Sir Christopher Kelly’s expenses review;
  • the drawing up of the Members of Parliament (Recall) Bill;
  • the passing of Lord Tyler’s Constitutional Renewal Bill currently before the House of Lords;
  • new Speaker John Bercow convening Party talks to agree changes to Commons procedure;
  • Parliament passing enabling legislation for a referendum on proportional representation; and
  • Parliament passing enabling legislation for an elected Senate.

    Oh, and Parliament would be about to pass the Members of Parliament (Recall) Bill. Which would only leave the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to report on all MPs who had claiming mortgage payments without having a mortgage, “flipped” their home for personal profit or avoided Capital Gains Tax, with suspension of MPs found guilty.

    And then finally the referendum on proportional representation. This was scheduled for Day 100, which I reckon to be 5th September.