Thursday 27 April 2006

A gap in the market.

Here's what I'd say if I were the leader of a political party of any stripe.

"I will not accept any of the type of abuse of power and trust that became so prevalent towards the end of Major's and Blair's time in power. Any member of my government found to be accepting any sort of bribe will be out immediately. Any member of my government found to have misled Parliament — for instance, by failing to declare an interest — will be out immediately. Any member of my government found to be having an extra-marital affair will be out immediately. Marriage is both a position of trust and a contract; anyone willing to break either for personal pleasure has no place in government.

"I will not go through the dance of asking for resignations; I will sack ministers. MPs are answerable to the electorate, so the electorate have a right to know the details of why an MP is suddenly out of a job and, more to the point, have a right to know the difference between trustworthy politicians and untrustworthy ones. To accept the resignation of a minister who has accepted bribes allows them to pretend to be behaving honourably, and is thus demeaning to those ministers who genuinely resign because they really do want to spend more time with their family.

"Ministers who have been sacked will never be eligible to return to government. Ever.

"It is only in the Prime Minister's power to sack ministers from the Government, not MPs from Parliament. However, I am proposing new rules within my party that will mean any of our MPs found to have accepted a bribe, misled Parliament, or cheated on their spouse will be expelled permanently from the party and therefore ineligible for re-election. If possible, we will force a bye-election in the offending MP's constituency in order to remove them from Parliament as quickly as possible.

"If an MP from another party is found to have accepted a bribe or misled Parliament, we will prosecute them. And we shall be proposing a change in the law so that either offense will be punishable by a minimum of five years in jail, including parole."

Surely that's a vote-winner.

Compare and contrast with David Cameron's whizzo scheme: "Your MPs are corrupt; our MPs are corrupt. What we really need to do to solve this endemic corruption is to take more money from the public by force and use it to advance our own careers."

Why put your money where your mouth is when you have access to someone else's money?

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