MPs, press, police, bankers – none can be left to regulate themselves

Cameron’s obstinate defence of Maria Miller against the large majority of his own party and the public who want to be rid of her for her greed, arrogance and sheer callous disregard for decent standards in public life needs some explaining.   Maybe he doesn’t want to be pushed, he wants to put in the knife himself in his own time in the reshuffle after the European elections.   Maybe he doesn’t want to be pushed around by the media or his own party (again), and prefers to tough it out.   But he’s shedding political goodwill by the gallon over this shoddy episode.   Sooner or later he’ll call it a day.   The rule for Prime Ministers is, if the media keep up a barrage for 5 days or more and if the political hostility in Westminster is still growing, he’ll staunch his losses and cut her loose.

But it’s not just this tawdry saga itself, it’s the way that judgement on it within Westminster has been manipulated.   The Commons Committee on Standards has 10 MPs on it plus 3 lay members (none of whom have a vote), and the MPs split 5 Tory, 4 Labour and 1 LibDem.   Why did they deal so excessively leniently with Miller, reducing by nine-tenths the payback required by their own independent standards commissioner?   And why was the tone of their admonition of Miller so mild when that can be politically weighted and can carry great influence – their vigorous condemnation of Denis McShane MP for over-claiming £12,000 led to his resignation from the House (and possible imprisonment) while their exoneration of David Laws MP on a pretext for wrongly claiming £40,000 allowed him to stay in Parliament and now return to ministerial office.

It is clear that the handling of MPs’ misdemeanours should be taken out of the hands of MPs themselves and given to a wholly independent body.   But the same applies to other occupations within the power structure.   The string of police abuses in recent years surrounding the Stephen Lawrence murder, Hillsborough, phone-hacking, under-cover activity against environmental campaigners, some very suspicious deaths in custody, etc., have finally been aired (often after years of concealment), but the police officers concerned are almost never held to account by a prison sentence.   Similarly editors and reporters in the media who regularly breach the PCC code “not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information” are almost never brought to book and lose their job for the substantial damage they inflict.   And of course bankers are a law unto themselves, stealing vast quantities of money through fraud (euphemistically called fraud) or rate-rigging or money-laundering or fixing up artificial and elaborate tax avoidance/evasion schemes, and though the financial regulators have been (belatedly) handing down enormous fines on banks as institutions, those executives or traders responsible for these crimes are rarely if ever prosecuted and imprisoned.

Britain needs a root and branch restructuring of its dilapidated (or non-existent) system of accountability across the whole range of the exercise of power.

2 thoughts on “MPs, press, police, bankers – none can be left to regulate themselves

  1. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    Is perhaps the greatest and most intractable difficulty facing us today a country and a society.

    Clearly stripped of her hot air, designer suites and empty posturing Miller simply another cheap and over-promoted crook, just bare faced, brass necked, greedy, venal and wholly unrepentant; after all anyone in her position would have done the same, wouldn’t they?

    And apparently her fellow MPs agree with her.

    But then so many of her fellow MPs the likes Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper and so many other as well have likewise played fast and loose with their own expenses and equally abused their positions, privileges and entitlements for personal gain as did most of their other colleagues.

    Yesterday I heard Ian Duncan Smith, (famous himself for his fictitious CV and for employing his wife and paying her for work that even his own political agent stated she’d never done,) blaming Millers behaviour on the stress of the Leveson Inquiry and the Gay Marriage bill.

    But with friends like IDS as they say.

    Have you ever heard such a complete load of crap?

    The same IDS who has just proposed that houses and assets of, “benefit cheats,” should be seized to recover the money that they’ve, stolen.

    Then there were to most recent independent inquiries, into the deaths and regime at Mid Staffs and Leveson into the vile and unprecedented abuses of press freedom particularly by tabloids own by NI.

    The outcomes of which have not realy changed anything or exactly been encouraging for those promoting the merits of independent regulation.

    In both cases as the case of Ms Miller and her ilk, on both sides of the house and their peers in the house of lords and all the placemen infesting the charitable sector and quango culture, both would have been far better served by open and transparent criminal prosecutions in front of jury which is still the best and possibly the only instrument that we, as a society, have to deal with these abuses.

    This is not a matter for forming another focus group or some government appointed tzar or quango or for any of other anti democratic fixes that Blair in particular was so fond off.

    Ofgen and all the other , “independent,”regulars are a standing joke, so the answer is not more of the same.

    This is quite simply a matter for the police.

    But like every other institution in this country and particularly post Blair, they’ve been tainted by corruption and naked commercial influences, (the Met in particular have always have a problem with this,) and Cameron placing them under the direct political control of these wretched commissioner was deeply retrograde step.

    Fix the Police where they need fixing, (and I’d still trust most police officers that I’ve known in most circumstances and despite their flaws far more than almost any politician,) restore their operational independence, but with oversight and let them do their job.

    Miller should have been arrested by now and the fact that she hasn’t illustrates more than anything else the shape, extent and magnitude of the problem.

  2. It’s the same old crap; the same old corrupt political system through and through. It cannot be patched up and it cannot be saved by the few honorable individuals remaining within. The system is a relic of the feudal past tarted up as so-called democracy; it has to be swept away, the whole rotten, putrid, stinking lot. We need a new vision of governance; we need, more than ever before, people with wisdom and integrity who sit comfortably with the words ‘public service’; individuals who are not, primarily driven by greed and profit and the lust for power and wealth. But let’s have peaceful change rather than rebellion.

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