Thursday, 14 May 2009

Clean Out The Cesspit


"The time has come," the Walrus said,

"To talk of many things:

Of moats and troughs and stealing tax

Of cabbages and kings

And why the sea is boiling hot

And whether pigs have wings."

Apologies to Lewis Carrol

Oh dear. "The parties need to work together to reform the system" has been the theme of MPs today. Don't they understand? The parties are the problem. The party system with it's "nudge nudge, wink wink" subculture is not only complicit in the institutionalised corruption in Westminster, it is a major cause of greed. What aspiring MP is going to blow the whistle on his party colleague? His career would be over before it started. Like the practice of fagging in Public Schools, however much they abhor it, peer pressure forces them to inflict tortures on the new boys. They're seen as weak, weird and untrustworthy if they don't. In a den of thieves, who's going to trust the squealer?

There are some who say the expenses row is a trivial distraction from the real issues. I disagree. Would you trust a child molester to do your babysitting? Would you give a pyromaniac a box of matches? Would you ask the Artful Dodger to mind your wallet? Our MPs are utterly discredited and we need a new broom. Yes good MPs will be swept away too, (the ones who notably kept their mouths shut and put Party before propriety), but are we seriously suggesting that in a country of over 60 million souls we can't find 645 honest replacements?

We need to deep clean Parliament. Out with the MPs who have failed us. Out with the civil servants who signed off the receipts. Out with anyone connected with this whole damn sorry mess.

And we can make a start at the European Elections.

Let's be perfectly frank here. The 72 MEPs we send to Europe are going to do damn all of consequence for Britain. Voters know it, which is why they don't turn out. MEPs cannot introduce legislation, they cannot propose Bills, they cannot change the system. The Council of Ministers can effect change as can the EU Commission, but they're staffed by senior members and ex-members of the sleazy Westminster mire. They're the ultimate winners in the game of climbing the Party greasy pole. Whilst we have unfit MPs, we will always have an unfit EU Council & Commission.

So if our MEPs can't make a meaningful difference to EU Policy, let's use them as a stepping stone to making a meaningful difference in Westminster. Let's send 72 Independents to Europe, Independents who are fundamentally committed to Open Democracy, ending corrupt Party politics and answering directly to voters. Send 72 Independents who will lead by example; publishing expenses before the newspapers do, exposing the waste at the heart of the EU, doing exactly as voters tell them. Give them a year to make a difference. Watch every move they make, analyse every decision, scrutinise every claim. They'll make it easy for you because they'll be telling you every step of the way.

And there's good reason not to send Party MEPs to Brussels. You'll be sending proven trough-snufflers to the biggest trough in the world. Just what do you think will happen when they get their snouts in there? It's the biggest game of "Who wants to be a millionaire?" on the planet.

And that's no exaggeration. David Craig and Matthew Elliott in their book "The Great European Rip-Off" showed in excruciating detail how MEPs can skim off 230,000 Euros a year from expenses and allowances - 1,150,000 Euros over a five year term. The way the pound is going, the Party MPs will be multimillionaires by 2014.

Jury Team Candidates have one thing in common. They differ in opinions about the environment, immigration, EU policies etc etc etc, but they are all wedded to the idea of transparency. If a significant number of them get into Brussels, there'll be more whistle blowing than an FA Cup weekend.

And when the General Election comes you'll have something to compare the Parties to. You'll be able to see if Independent MPs really can make a difference.

I believe they can. And I also believe that, by setting an example they can drag the Parties along the road to reforming themselves and creating a new politics for Britain, one that is truly democratic and always mindful that people come before Parties.

A vote for a Party on June 4th is a wasted vote and a wasted opportunity for real change.

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