Houses of Parliament – hard to see the scandals from this angle
Simple title for a simple concept. Right now, the government is utterly mired in scandals. In the last couple of years, we have had Owen Paterson, Partygate, Chris Pincher, Gavin Williamson, Dominic Raab, Suella Braverman (several times), Priti Patel, Matt Hancock, PPE Contracts, sewage being dumped into our waterways while the water companies pay out huge dividends, MP second jobs, doctors, nurses and others going on strike, and Nadhim Zahawi’s attempt to evade tax. Worse yet, there are undoubtedly more that I have forgotten to include (contact me if you spot a particularly egregious example). Frankly this level of sleaze, corruption, scandal and laziness is not what we should expect with the politicians of a developed country. We should hold our government to much higher standards, and we certainly should let them get away with treating us like serfs while they walk away with small fortunes.
So what should we do differently? How can we reclaim government that best represents us, the people who read this and are incensed by the sheer arrogance of these authoritarian despots who have decided to abuse their constituents for personal gain?
If the above sounds angry, it’s because I am. Livid, in fact. The amalgamation of all these scandals frankly makes me sick. I want to see our country governed responsibly, and the Conservative party has shown over the last 13 years that they simply cannot be trusted with any aspect of our country. The fact that a former Conservative Prime Minister is quoted as saying “The NHS is about as safe with them as a pet hamster would be with a hungry python” says it all.
So I have a few suggestions for making our politicians more accountable.
At the moment an MP is an MP until they die, reach the end of their term, or are recalled. The last one of these is extremely limited in scope, and can only be brought into effect if the MP is found guilty of one of a small number of offences or if they disappear. The fact that an MP can entirely misrepresent their constituents, lie during campaigning, or be entirely absent from the constituency and Westminster is a fundamental failing of the electoral system that could be addressed with a simple option of allowing a recall petition at any time.
The caveat to this is that under normal circumstances, I would expect that an MP should only be recalled if more people opt for a recall than voted for them in the first place. For example, if an MP obtained 45% of the vote in the last election, they would be safe unless 45% or more of the electorate signed a recall petition. This would give them much more safety if they did their job correctly, but would mean that if they became embroiled in scandals that their constituents didn’t appreciate, they could be subject to a recall even if they do not trigger one of the mandatory triggers that currently exist.
Uxbridge & South Ruislip constituents are stuck with their absentee MP until the General Election (or an earlier recall if he is suspended from Parliament for more than 2 weeks)
An example of this is Boris Johnson in Uxbridge & South Ruislip. I have asked repeatedly for information on how many constituency surgeries he has hosted since 2019, but his office has refused to provide this information. Constituents on my Twitter thread generally seem to agree that he has been wholly absent, with a common joke being that he likely doesn’t even know where Uxbridge is, he has visited so infrequently. Under current rules, he is not subject to a recall for this absence, though this may change if the Privileges Committee finds that he lied to the House of Commons over Partygate.
More Disqualifications from Parliament
As an added measure to the above, I believe it would be fair to list a set of standards that, if breached, automatically trigger a by-election. Off the top of my head, this would include:
- Tax evasion.
- Threatening investigators with frivolous lawsuits.
- Abusive behaviour towards fellow MPs or Parliamentary staff.
- Lying to the House.
- Issuing false information to the electorate.
I’m sure there are plenty of others. Please note that I do not propose adding “any crime” to this list, as I would not want to see someone stopped from being an MP for, say, speeding, but our MPs should pay their taxes without complaint and should be wholly open and truthful with the electorate.
At the moment, there is a concept of “safe seats” for all parties. This is essentially a seat where an MP can do almost anything and still expect to be re-elected because the electorate in the area will vote for one party or another regardless of behaviour, policies or scandals. This is a consequence of our First-Past-The-Post system, because people are so disenfranchised that they want to vote for the winner to avoid wasting their vote, so they stick with the existing winning candidate purely because so many others around them vote that way.
Doing away with this archaic system would eliminate the concept of safe seats, which would mean that unpopular MPs would be eliminated from the political process by their electorate, increasing the accountability between elections as well as at the ballot days themselves.
Truss and Kwarteng
I haven’t included any of the issues around the Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng abomination. I could of course include that whole premiership (all 44 days or so) as a scandal, but honestly, I didn’t need to!