Alex Hilton: Give public power to cull slack MPs

The public is angry. Parliament is full of MPs desperate for a suitable catharsis so they can cling on to their jobs and convince the public that the problem of parliamentary expenses has been fixed.

Alex Hilton
Alex Hilton

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg wants us to believe all will be well once the Speaker has gone. Tory leader David Cameron wants to persuade us that electing him prime minister is the answer. And Labour PM Gordon Brown thinks tweaking the expenses rules will placate us.

But it is all so arbitrary. The transgressions are wide-ranging and the corresponding punishments are haphazard and inconsistent. MPs are drawing lines where their own behaviour is acceptable but where their colleagues’ actions are not.

How big does a mortgage have to be for the interest alone to be £20,000? £400,000? Yet the fact that this is the size of Cameron’s state-funded mortgage doesn’t bother him at all. In the same breath that he apologises humbly for his inappropriate wisteria, he shakes with anger on the subject of his colleagues’ moats, helipads and ride-on lawnmowers.

The media wail over the prospect of a BNP break­through in the European elections. Politicians talk gravely of constitutional crisis, yet remain deliberately blind to the true problem and its solution.

There are 646 MPs and more than 450 of them are in safe seats. These are the seats where it is joked that a monkey in the right rosette would get elected. Well, too many monkeys got elected and now there is a perverse culture of unaccountability. While the public or even political parties might remove the very worst MPs, a lazy MP in a safe seat is unassailable.

The solution is to get rid of those safe seats and move to multi-member constituencies, where the seats are divided proportionately according to votes.

Politicians can no longer be trusted to make decisions where their own self-interest is at stake. To win back public faith they must give the public the power to cull them. Public relations won’t get Parliament out of this mess, but proportional representation might.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Latest Articles

Max Clifford trial jury finishes sixth day of deliberations

Max Clifford trial jury finishes sixth day of deliberations

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford on 11 charges of indecent assault has been sent home and will reconvene tomorrow morning for a seventh day of deliberations.

Analysis: Fishburn chiefs keep eyes on future despite mounting departures

Analysis: Fishburn chiefs keep eyes on future despite mounting departures

Fishburn's management have defended their reinvention of the 23-year-old agency amid industry mutterings, fed by a series of director-level departures, about the direction in which it is going.

Hit or Miss? EasyJet backs Shakespeare Day campaign with world record attempt

Hit or Miss? EasyJet backs Shakespeare Day campaign with world record attempt

EasyJet aimed to break the world record for the highest ever theatrical performance for Shakespeare's 450th birthday yesterday with the Reduced Shakespeare Company performing on a flight from Gatwick to Verona.

Top PRs to gather in Barcelona for inaugural PRWeek Global Congress

Top PRs to gather in Barcelona for inaugural PRWeek Global Congress

Senior executives from IBM, Nestlé, Vedanta, GE, Cargill, Philips and Allianz will be among the speakers at PRWeek's first Global Congress.