The Great Debate UK
from UK News:
Would you have an MP for a tenant? Not so long ago, those two letters placed after a person's name were seen as a mark of respectability, but the unending drama of the expenses scandal has blown all that away.
New rules, brought in after revelations last year about MPs "flipping" their main and second homes to maximise allowances, stipulate that MPs can no longer buy second homes and claim mortgage payments on expenses. If they wish to claim expenses related to a second home, they will have to be content with renting one.
This has led to a flurry of activity by real estate agents in areas of London close to Westminster. With 232 new MPs taking their seats, many of whom represent constituencies outside the capital, the agents have scented an opportunity. In Kennington, a south London neighbourhood that is popular with MPs because it's only a short walk or bus ride away from the Houses of Parliament, residents have been inundated with leaflets urging them to consider renting out their properties to members of the untainted new Commons intake.
Some of the leaflets seek to allay any fears of scandal that may dissuade prospective landlords fearful that a crowd of journalists could show up outside their property one morning or that they might find a photograph of it splashed all over the front pages. Don't fret, the leaflets say, we know that there are new expense rules in place and we can guarantee everything will be above board.
Matthew McGregor is the Director Blue State Digital’s London office. The opinions expressed are his own.
The 2010 general election will be the first closely British election in which the internet will be an important factor. The last truly close election in 1992 was fought in a way unrecognisable to campaigners today. In 1997, most of us had yet to use email. In 2005, YouTube was barely three months into its existence.
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.
-John Bew is Lecturer in Modern British History at Peterhouse, Cambridge University. Martyn Frampton is a Research Fellow, also at Peterhouse. Their book, co-written with Iñigo Gurruchaga, is called “Talking to Terrorists: Making Peace in Northern Ireland and the Basque Country” and they blog at Talking to Terrorists. The opinions expressed are their own.-
One of the current fashions in British and American diplomatic circles is the idea that it is necessary to engage with our enemies, no matter how extreme they might seem. In response to the recent Iranian election results, for example, Steven Clemons of the New America Foundation – a think tank with strong links to the Obama administration – suggested that “nothing at all has changed in the equation that Obama set out during the campaign: we have to deal with out enemies – we must engage”.
- Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School and a co-author of “Verdict on the Crash” published by the Institute of Economic Affairs. The opinions expressed are his own. -
We could see it coming, couldn’t we? Those gigantic over-leveraged hedge funds were bound to come crashing down, as their massive bets turned sour, forcing them to default on their bank loans and bringing the banking system to its knees.
- Mark Wickham-Jones is an expert on the history of Labour over the last twenty-five years. His particular area of interest is the evolution of the party’s policy commitments since 1983, the changes to its organisational structure and the nature of its electoral outlook. The opinions expressed are his own.-
Labour’s failure to get rid of Gordon Brown is indicative of one of the taboos governing the politics of the party. This week’s decision to stick with Brown does not reflect the preferences of Labour MPs, most of whom clearly regard the prime minister as a massive electoral liability.
- 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.
Whatever reservations there might be over the way the leaked information was obtained, the publication of hitherto secret details about the endemic abuse of MPs’ expenses was without doubt in the public interest.
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?