A leader for the Cardiff Evening News:
The forced resignation of the Speaker of the House of Commons for his role in trying to prevent the list of MPs’ expenses becoming public knowledge can only be the first step in what will now, surely, be a long process of winning back voter confidence.
The revelations over how much MPs have spent in the name of furnishing their second homes, cleaning moats, and ordering manure has left the majority of the country angry.
Understandably, most would say, for as the MPs chose widescreen television which cost thousands of pounds all courtesy of the tax payer, the rest of the population are worrying about rising debt and the possibility of redundancy.
So it seems the Speaker, Glasgow MP Michael Martin, has been offered up to the public as some sort of sacrifice. MPs bayed for his blood, while hoping the spotlight would not be turned on them next.
And when the spotlight is turned on them, revealing what can only be described as their gross misuse of public money, they claim they were simply playing within the rules, and, what’s more, they don’t earn that much anyway.
For, they claim, £65,000 is not a lot of money. They seem to forget the majority of people who voted them in to these once trusted roles earn on average a paltry £22,000 a year.
But how to win back any confidence?
Promises to pay back the money spent on a Heal’s rocking chair, or some other pointless extravagance, are simply not enough. Most people when caught with their hands in the cookie jar would promise to replace the cookies, but there still remains the question of why they had their hand in the cookie jar in the first place. And, it must be said, it is unlikely you would trust them near the cookie jar again.
A complete reform of the expenses system is required, but, then, it needs to be remembered, expenses exist so everyone, not only those lucky enough to already have money, can become an MP if they are good enough.
The only way to win back any voter confidence is for every MP in the country to lay their expenses bare to their constituency, and then be given the chance to decide whether they still want this person to represent them in the Commons.
Brown must call an election. MPs need to be held accountable, and need to realise even though they may be acting within the technical confines of the law, they are certainly not above judgement.