– 78% say independents should stand where MPs have behaved “unethically”
– 63% believe British democracy would be strengthened if there were more independent MPs
– 53% say they would “seriously consider” voting for an independent candidate at the next general election
The poll, says the think tank, has challenged the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent suggestion that democracy will be damaged by the revelations about MPs expenses.
Rather than damage democracy, says Ekklesia, the poll seems to show that the expenses scandal has brought a “new interest in politics and a willingness to back new political initiatives such as independent candidates”. Its news release says:
The survey [. . .]suggests that 78% of the public believe independents should stand where MPs have behaved “unethically”. 63% said that they thought democracy would be enriched if more independent MPs were elected to Parliament.
This compares with just 61% who voted at the last general election.
Ekklesia co-director Jonathan Bartley said: “Rather than turning people off politics, our survey suggests that the expenses scandal has brought a new revival of interest in politics.
“The poll suggests that the real problem has been an old party-dominated system which has been inaccessible. In contrast the fallout from the expenses scandal has clearly brought hope of a new system and new ways of political engagement that people feel they can connect with.”
Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow added: “It is right to be concerned that an orgy of self-vindicating finger-pointing may detract from the urgent need for radical renewal of public institutions, and from the awareness that the seeds of corruption are not just in one place or in ‘that lot’. But, beyond the intense anger that many rightly feel, there is perhaps more critical awareness than the archbishop credits.
“The gap between governed and governors is the really dangerous one, because it allows both to blame the other while nothing changes. Our poll indicates that the appetite for change is now real, and should not be missed.”
If comments on forums, in TV programmes such as Question Time and in vox pops conducted in the streets of Britain are anything to go by, the public would like to see most of the culprits hanged, drawn and quartered.
At the very least, there should be an immediate general election, while the shameful misdeeds are still fresh in the minds of constituency parties and the electorate.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s claim that it would be unwise to have an election while the government is dealing with the economic crisis is just specious bollocks: the world’s biggest democracy, India, has just had one, and so has the USA. If we had strictly regular elections (every four years, say), the government would have to have gone to the country.
As this row has gone on, it’s become clearer and clearer to most of us (I would humbly suggest) that MPs are living in a totally different world. Theirs is a world of the expectation of privilege. Nay, the demand for privilege.
Many landed Tories have it already, and it’s hardly surprising that one Tory MP, Anthony Steen, thought the public had no right to know how he spent their dosh.
“In a breathtaking display of arrogance,” says the Daily Mail, “he said the public had no right to know how he spent taxpayer-funded allowances. ‘As far as I am concerned, and as of this day, I do not know what the fuss is about,’ he said.”
Well, someone with that amount of wealth, the man whose house, on his own admission, looks like Balmoral, the man who claimed about £80,000 in expenses for work at this £1 million mansion, doesn’t have much of an inkling of the real world, it seems, and the man ought to be publicly shamed, thrown out of the party, denied the right to stand for public office for the rest of his life and put into the public stocks every Christmas and twice on his birthday and pelted with rotten tomatoes.
Not for what he did, but for saying that. What an absolutely arrogant, supercilious, self-important, conceited, pompous, toffee-nosed scoundrel! What an utter dick!
This is the man who said , “I have done nothing criminal. Do you know what it’s all about? Jealousy. I have got a very, very large house, some people say it looks like Balmoral [. . .] but it’s a merchant’s house of the nineteenth century. It’s not particularly attractive, it just does me nicely.”
I bet it does!
I single out this reprobate because he exemplifies what the others have been up to, but with more of the toffee-nosed arrogance. Whatever all these snivelling public servants say about being “within the rules”, let’s not forget who wrote the rules.
How good the gravy tastes when it’s to your own recipe!