The Great Debate UK
The Labour politician and intellectual Richard Crossman once described the British constitution, with a sovereign Parliament at its centre, as a “rock” against periodic “waves of popular emotion”.
As MPs reflect on the recent expenses scandal during their 82-day summer break, many will be tempted to congratulate themselves for once again weathering the storm of public outrage.
At the height of the crisis the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition were competing with each other to propose ever-more radical constitutional solutions to the catastrophic loss of trust precipitated by the Telegraph’s revelations of MPs’ shameless, and in many cases fraudulent, abuse of taxpayers’ money. Gordon Brown called for “a written constitution”, David Cameron for giving “power to the powerless” and Nick Clegg, whose party has long been calling for reform of a “rotten” Westminster system, demanded change in “100 days”.
from UK News:
Probity is Britain's new watchword. After filleting the bankers over their salaries and bonuses and excoriating MPs for fiddling their expenses we've now turned our attention to the antics of journalists.
The News of the World (NOTW) has frequently embarrassed politicians, vicars, footballers and celebrities, but the Sunday red-top is currently itself the target of an expose by a broadsheet.
- Gavin MacFadyen is Director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit training charity, who advance education for, and public understanding of investigative journalism. The opinions expressed are his own. -
Whether the press, or even the police (if Speaker of the House of Commons Michael Martin has his way) succeed in unmasking the person who leaked MPs’ expense details to the Daily Telegraph, one thing which remains troubling in this story is the alleged exchange of money for those 1.2 million-or-so damning documents.
The expenses crisis is well and truly engulfing Westminster, with equal anticipation and dread about future revelations. Labour was quite reasonably aggrieved that the initial stories all seemed to be about their MPs.
- John Kampfner is chief executive of Index on Censorship and former editor of the New Statesman. His new book, “Freedom for Sale”, will be published by Simon and Schuster in September. The opinions expressed are his own. -
Squalid is the adjective that best describes the approach of our not-so-honourable members of parliament to their own expenses. But what about the journalism that has helped to all but destroy what remaining trust the public had in its elected representatives?