Thursday, May 14, 2009

How Many More Scalps Will It Take?

The rotten MPs' expenses scandal has claimed its first scalps with a hard-line ex-New Labour minister suspended from the Party and a top Tory quitting as Cameron's aid, as the public rounds on the robbers after their highway robbery.  

The politically odd couple are the first to fall victim to the public clamour for a clean-up and clear-out as the endless round of sleaze and expenses scandals wreaks havoc at Westminster, bringing with it anger and disgust from voters. 

As the Guardian's Patrick Barkham puts it: "A nation united in howling outrage."  

MPs have only themselves to blame. A spinning New Labour mantra of "only obeying rules" gave way to the hairiest hairshirt competition and chequebooks at dawn, as embattled leaders from all parties tried to complete in the leadership stakes. 

The prime minister-in-waiting is coming out on top, leaving bunkered Brown struggling to play catch-up.  

Cameron's disgraced senior advisor, Andrew MacKay, last spotted with terror cops over the Damian Green affair, is  the first top Tory to quit his place in the pecking order, after an “unacceptable” double your money expenses game ended in double trouble for the MP married to a fellow Tory MP.

But it is the revelations over ex-government minister Elliot Morley which are potentially the most politically damaging for the government and in particular the flagging Supreme Leader.  

£16,000 of taxpayers cash for a mortgage that did not exist is hard for voters to swallow and stomach. For the first time the Telegraph's revelations exposed a dodgy claim where  the words  "fraud" and a "criminal offence" are muttered in the same breath. 

Earlier Brown had the cheek to duck the issue and turn his back on the cameras to avoid questions about the expenses scandal when he visited a school with sick-kick Ed Balls. 

But the signs were not looking good for the Scunthorpe MP as he faced Brown's sergeant-at-armstwisting and namesake, Nick Brown and he was suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party. Morley could well end up with an appointment with Knacker of the Yard.

The former teacher and now privy counsellor has come a long way since taking the Blair shilling and has been a consistent supporter of Blair/Brown policy. Now he's been shown the door to face the disgrace of being shunned by his Party in parliament.

For 21 months he claimed £800 per month on a mortgage he had already paid off. That allegation of negligence alone is serious enough to merit a criminal test in court.

Politicians from all parties, under fire from the public over their shoddy expense claims, are lining up to try to make peace with voters. The shamed MPs have started on the long road of paying back thousands of pounds of public money in a bid to assuage voter anger. 

But trailing badly in the polls, it is Brown's ruling New Labour Party and his brutal and blinkered leadership style which will have the most to lose. 

For Morley and others caught out in blatant fiddles there should be only one course of action as the public lose faith in parliament altogether: 

If Brown won't call a snap general election, pay back the ill-gotten gains, stand down, force a by-election, stand again as an Independent and let voters decide their fate. 

For Morley, with a majority of 9000 but without a New Labour comfy cushion, that wouldn't be easy. 

Slippery Tony Blair meanwhile will escape the wrath of expenses claims, covering his 'cool' housing deals. Apparently his incriminating receipts were "accidentally" shredded. His cronies in the Lords are not so lucky with a highly unusual suspension move. 

For the first time since the English Revolution, two New Labour peers, former minister Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor of Blackburn exposed by the Sunday Times in the "cash for laws" scandal face suspension, after a sleaze inquiry found them guilty of misconduct. The pair were exposed when undercover hacks posed as lobbyists to try to get changes to government legislation in return for cash.

As always in politics, familiarly breeds contempt, contempt breeds greed and greed breeds corruption. The pack of cards is starting to fall. 

The question now being asked is how many more scalps will it take and how many heads will have roll to satisfy the public's demand for vengeance? Will Brown ever put his tribal party political posturing to one side and call a snap general election to clear the air?

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