The shockwaves reverberating through Westminster as the MPs’ expenses scandal unfolds have been compared with the “Clean Hands” bribery scandal that effectively demolished Italy’s post-war political establishment in the space of a couple of years in the early 1990s.
If things are going to get that bad, the guilty politicians are going to have an uncomfortable time.
First they were blamed for the swine flu that caused a worldwide stir after it was discovered in Mexico — and now everyone’s likening them to Members of Parliament with their snouts in the trough.
But look at the facts. The genetic make-up of the virus may have been predominantly porcine but the pigs themselves didn’t have it. Even at the supposed epicentre of the outbreak in Mexico they showed no symptoms — things reached such a state that owners of some pig farms in the US were stopping humans coming near them in case they infected their animals. The pigs were innocent OK?
The Milky Bar Kid is one, Persil mum is another and, inevitably, the Hovis bread delivery boy struggling up his cobbled hill while the brass band plays on.
Britain’s anti-sleaze chief Sir Christopher Kelly, Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, has said the MPs’ expenses scandal is worse than the infamous cash for questions affair that did so much damage to the John Major adminstration in the 1990s.
In that celebrated scandal, which fatally undermined Tory MP Neil Hamilton’s political career, Harrods owner Mohamed Al-Fayed alleged he had paid two MPs to table parliamentary questions on his behalf.
British charity fundraiser Ben Southall is preparing to begin the “best job in the world” – caretaker of an Australian tropical island — after winning a highly publicised contest this month.
The job involves exploring the islands of the Great Barrier Reef for six months and reporting back to Tourism Queensland and the world via blogs, a photo diary, video updates and interviews. If he feels like it, he can feed the fish, collect the mail and clean the pool, all at a salary of about 74,000 pounds.
While Gordon Brown increasingly draws comparisons to the mortally wounded bull gasping his last at a Spanish corrida, one personality at Westminster has been putting on a show of decisive policy-making that has brought the bloodthirsty crowd to its feet.
Totally at ease with publicity, absurdly photogenic and much loved amongst the electorate at large, actress Joanna Lumley — AbFab’s Patsy to the younger ones, The Avengers’ Purdy to more seasoned TV viewers — has provided Westminster watchers with an object lesson in how to get things done.
Bleary-eyed commuters passing through Clapham Junction station in southwest London on their way to work this week were among the first to witness the opening blast of one of the most remarkable advertising campaigns to have hit the capital in recent years.******No, not Flu Man sneezing his germs all over us but a short message in huge black lettering that simply says: “Sorry for losing touch.”******The only clue as to who is so publicly donning the hair shirt is a small drawing tucked away in the corner of the hoarding featuring the Eros statue in Piccadilly Circus, the logo of London’s only paid-for evening paper, the Evening Standard.******The message is an attempt by the paper to reconnect with its readership now that it is under new ownership and will appear in the next few weeks on the side of buses and on the underground. Other slogans will say Sorry for being negative, for taking you for granted, for being complacent and for being predictable.******Not the hardest word at all then, though one that seems likely to cause considerable offence to the paper’s former editor Veronica Wadley.******The campaign comes in response to market research, commissioned by the newspaper’s new editor, Geordie Greig, which found that Londoners felt the paper was too negative and did not meet the capital’s needs.******Russian tycoon and former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev bought the loss-making Standard from the Daily Mail and General Trust in February and media analysts have long predicted it will become less right-wing in its political stance. Some expect it to go more upmarket in an attempt to distance itself from the free sheets which have cut so badly into its circulation.******But few can have predicted such a public confessional as this. The “Sorry” campaign will run for three weeks in the run-up to the 181-year-old paper’s relaunch later this month.******After a year in which so many have been clamouring for a ”sorry” from miscreants ranging from bankers to MPs and even debt-laden prime ministers, Londoners may actually soon find themselves becoming sick of the word.