Allan Takes Aim Blog

Octopus restores democracy

Posted on: 8 June 2009


Octopus restores democracy

 Like an Octopus, the British House of Commons expenses scandal exposed by The London Daily Telegraph, has snared more than fifty MPs. Two Lords also have been suspended for taking money in return for favours. It is rumoured also, that, as a result of the scandal, possibly 325 of the 659 sitting Members of the Commons are unlikely to be re-elected. Little wonder it is rumoured that some of the exposed  will commit suicide.

 Crying that they are whiter than white, Australian Parliamentarians deny such things happen here. Maybe so, but when some MPs and Senators – Ministers in particular – give up office and immediately become senior executives in industries whose activities were subject to regulations they administered while in Office, I wonder. 

 And I wonder too, is it simply political role playing when, speaking under parliamentary privilege, a politician says an opponent is a charlatan or is it merely an effort to convince voters of their personal integrity so as to improve their chances of re-election?

 But role playing or not, my view is that, once elected, too many Australian politicians forget the voters who elected them. They forget them at their peril. Perhaps they forget them thinking that they have forgotten the Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria enquiries that revealed corrupt MPs, Upper House Members, business people, bureaucrats and police officers. They haven’t! And nor have they forgotten that of the politicians shown to be corrupt, many of them, like their recently exposed British contemporaries, continue to claim their innocence and paint themselves as paragons of virtue.

 A brief digression about how people in positions of influence can become become corrupt. I remember when, as PC 217 in Keighley, West Yorksire I called regularly on cafes, clubs and pubs seeking information about the activities of known criminals. Owners and publicans often offered a free coffee or beer which I turned down, not because I’m a paragon of virtue but because accepting them seemed to be but the first short step to accepting more tempting offers at a later day on matters that they thought I might be able to influence for their benefit. Unfortunately some officers took the later offers only to be caught and in doing so ruined not only their lives but that of their famlies.

 Digression over, apart from politicians some influential business people, bureaucrats and sadly, media people are corrupt. While corrupt bureaucrats and business people are bad enough, corrupt politicians are worse because their corruption affects the voters who trusted them. In the same way corrupt media, with less than truthful reports, short change their reading and listening audiences.

 Returning to the British scene the result of the scandal is that voters, including members of major parties, are saying the party system has reached its use by date because parties and party leaders have been infected by the deadly “dictator” disease that leads to the extinction of democracy. That may be an extreme view, but voters in general have become so disenchanted with the major parties that many now think politicians are more interested in gaining and exercising power for their own ends rather than exercise it to provide genuine parliamentary democracy.

 As a result, at the next British election, Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats although perhaps not the Greens, will suffer a backlash at the polls as voters show their displeasure by electing members of small community parties, plus a large number of Independents, hopefully in the mould of Martin Bell, the former BBC War Correspondent who was famed for the honesty of his reporting.  

 If this situation arises, the effect will be similar to that when a domino in a carefully planned layout collapses and triggers the collapse of the other dominos. In this case the other planned layouts are Western democracies, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the US where voters too, like their British contemporaries will demand that their elected representatives listen to them and act honestly.

 As the ACT will not be immune to this collapse, perhaps voters in Canberra will move to elect intelligent and honest Community Party representatives and Independents with fresh ideas, whose aims are not power and status but good government.

dca@netspeed.com.au

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