A total of 377 MPs had to have their parliamentary credit cards blocked, demonstrating the need for reform of the Westminster Parliament, writes Helen Martin.
FOR years now, particularly in the last several months, we have all come to see Brexit as a complex mess. Increasingly though, it’s becoming apparent that the greatest mess of all is Westminster.
The electoral system of first past the post makes it incredibly difficult for the two major opposing parties to set up some sort of negotiating coalition to reach a compromise.
The governing party thinks it has the final say on everything – even something as massive as leaving, or how to leave, the EU. That could be described as over-powerful, egotistical insanity.
Proportional representation in general elections could change all that. If Scotland votes eventually to stay in the UK, we would hope our PR system was followed by Westminster, yet that’s highly unlikely because UK Tories and Labourites seem to define the government role as beating the opposition rather than representing the people.
Devout Unionists certainly don’t like MPs to be described as corrupt, greedy and fraudulent. Yet a decade ago, the expenses scandal was revealed showing MPs to have used public funds for personal expenses, investments and profit.
The solution then was to issue them with parliamentary credit cards so that their spending could be monitored and accounted for. The vital question is . . . by whom?
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is now supposed to be “policing” MPs’ behaviour, and perhaps they did by suspending these parliamentary credit cards for 377 MPs who carried on breaking the rules. Cabinet ministers, shadow ministers, Jeremy Corbyn and others, continued to over-claim or raid public funds for rent, household bills and other ineligible costs.
There seem to be no more duck houses this time around. But energy minister Claire Perry used her card (the purpose of which is to cover working expenses) to pay her Amazon Prime subscription. DUP MP Ian Paisley ran up debts of £1193. Jeremy Corbyn and David Mundell have had their cards suspended only twice, in comparison with constitution minister Chloe Smith who had hers pulled back 14 times in three years.
The heroic body in this financial fiasco is, once again, the Daily Telegraph who fought for the public right to know what was going on behind the scenes. (We need newspapers. No one else can step up to the Fourth Estate.)
The Standards Authority argued that exposing the truth would embarrass MPs and reduce public confidence. That was, of course, overruled by a former High Court judge.
Is it surprising that such shameful, selfish, and immoral members of parliament who can’t stick to the rules, or display trustworthiness, reliability and decency, are incapable of pulling off a closely scrutinised international, beneficial deal to leave the EU? Why would the EU trust them? Why should we?
If they were employed by and working for anyone other than the public, they could be sacked. Brexit or no Brexit, Scottish independence or not, Westminster and MPs desperately need reformation, more control and greater penalties for misbehaviour and self-interest. The ‘Honourable’ Lady or Gentleman as they are referred to in the House of Commons? Somehow they have to earn such a description.
Liposuction is a fat lot of good after my surgery
LAST year I revealed that 16 years after my first breast cancer and mastectomy, I was going through the same again – fortunately another treatable Stage 1.
While the first involved getting back to work within three months including reconstruction, this one is taking about five times as long following minor complications, infections and extra surgery.
The one biggest revelation for me was remodelling liposuction, especially as it’s something women still go for in cosmetic clinics to remove excess fat.
I’m not as slim as I used to be so it sounded like a bit of a bonus with plumpness relocating from my stomach to the breast. What I didn’t fully realise, despite being medically warned, is how the abdomen turns to a mass of purple bruising and tenderness. Anything with a waistband is impossible to wear. I need something I remember from the 60s – a tent dress! Even pants are unbearable.
It settles down substantially over weeks, and even more up to a year. But I have to go through it again next month with final surgery. I’m not complaining. It’s the best way to rebuild a long-term symmetrical bosom following cancer so the end goal is worth it.
But ladies, if you want a slimmer tum, and unless you are medically advised for lipo and have a retro fashion wardrobe, stick to diet and exercise!
Baby boon for royal obsession
MANY of us, even media folks, are stunned by the obsession over Archie Sussex – with some newspapers and all TV stations carrying out ludicrous levels of coverage.
I like the Royals. I would hate to be one – suffering from lack of privacy and life under a magnifying glass. But they’re a great asset to us.
The curiosity, that no one admitted to publicly, was whether or not wee Archie emerged to be black, white, or mixed race. Equality and smashing down on racism is an important goal, so to me it wouldn’t have mattered what colour he was.
But newspapers running more than 20 pages of the babe, mum Meghan and dad Harry? Filming of royal fans laughing and crying hysterically over the birth? TV reporters spending hours discussing potential names? I just don’t get it.