Tuesday, 26 May 2009


The recent controversy in the UK about MPs' expenses begs the question whether we can ever trust them to be the guardians of public standards. Reluctantly perhaps, we need them - in a democracy we chose them to shape knowing that they will shape our lives according to party rules. They have nice little committees and clubs in Whitehall and Westminster and in order to do their job must spend public's money wisely .... But then, I've not been convinced by politicians for a long time and nor do I consider them wise in their decision-making ...

Public Money

There is something known as the trickle down effect, allegedly - that is that people at the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder eventually feel the benefits of the wealth generated and/or spending by the powerful and rich in society. In other words the poor and powerless needn't complain because wealthy and powerful will eventually do them good.

Yeah right. By that token, we shouldn't really complain about the frivolity of British MPs who lavish tax-payers money on garden gates, hotel accomodation, dubious claims for second homes and home-cinema systems. They are clearly doing this for the public good that they serve. And when we do question - note here - I speak about the print and electronic media, we're intrusive - we judge politicians on matters other than the job in hand; we cross the line between politics and the personal, by probing their family matters and exposing others to an unforgiving media glare.

Notice that I don't flinch. We're luckier than most in the UK that we have a media* that is made up of hungry wolf packs, out there to hunt and savage their leadership. We're prepared to tear people down, by searching their trash cans and closets to shame and bring them to their knees for an exposé. We hound them and encircle them, making their lives difficult and leaving them nowhere to hide by dragging their colleagues, friends and nearest into the spotlight.


MPs will say that they have their standards and I don't claim to enjoy people squirming in embarassment the public domain. I don't like the notion of the innocent being dragged into this, but I do believe that the media, in pursuit of a kill, don't bother too much with the those people around politicians who are not complicit when they are on to something. It's the politicians that they target - precision targetting if you like.

The media has an agenda and they are not always fair - I know enough to know that, but that they periodically mount a campaign to scrutinise politicians is not something that I criticise them for. We can all sense the fishiness, the phoniness, the contrived photo ops and the carefully constructed smoothness that surrounds political movers and shakers. In a democracy it's even worse, because we are led to believe that because we have chosen these people, that we are, in part, responsible. Maybe we are, but the ever-decreasing number of ordinary people prepared to vote for politicians is actually an indictment on the whole mess that they have now come to represent. Just read this ludicrous story about an MP arrogantly claiming that people are jealous of his wealth.

Of course, as people, we're all fallible, politicians included. we all deserve to be forgiven, but I make an exception with politicians (or public campaigners or religious leaders). Cheat the people you claim to represent, distort the truth and then claim that the media is out to get you means that your beginning to outlive any usefulness that you may have had.

Serves them right if they are ousted or pressurised to go and the door closed on their return to power. Home-cinema systems indeed.

* this probe into MPs spending is courtesy of The Telegraph

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