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Screwed over by an arbitrary state ruling… good

A number of Members of Parliament are up in arms about the clearly arbitrary rulings by Sir Thomas Legg regarding the repayment of money claimed as expenses by various MPs. It seems obvious to me that the ‘rules’ being applied by Legg are criteria he has more or less plucked out of the air for deciding what constitutes a ‘reasonable’ expense for an MP to claim.

And I must say I find this an edifying show. That the apex predators of the looter class are being given a taste of what it is like to be at the mercy of a capricious ruling by some state functionary fills me with delight. Moreover the public perception of MPs wriggling on the hook are unlikely to be one of legalistic understanding but rather a deepening of the perception of a socially remote class squealing over their looting privileges being squeezed.

The notion of taking one for the team obviously does not appeal to a number of the Honourable Members and frankly from my perspective, ideally the MPs will prevail and end up not paying back the money they took in order to yield the maximum effect I would like to see.

But whoever wins the argument in the end, there is simply no downside from my point of view at the spectacle of a cross party selection of bloated hippos noisily snorting and harrumphing and rolling around in the steaming mud piles of public relations effluent slathered across the floor of the House of Commons… oh… fulsome apologies to the world’s hippos for that unkind analogy.

I hope this process drags on and on as the already palpable cynicism with which the political establishment class are viewed by most people gradually slides into loathing. From such seeds do interesting fruits grow.

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15 comments to Screwed over by an arbitrary state ruling… good

  • manuel II hippopotamus

    Indeed.
    Nothing quite like it for stirring the blood.

  • Matt

    What pungent prose! So applicable to US Congress, too.

  • Brian, follower of Deornoth

    Sadly, I must beg to differ. These scum are the sole defenders of liberty in the United Kingdom, horrifying though it is to say so. All the measures so far advocated to bring them under control, really bring them under the control of the state. So the proposal made in the Sunday Times today would merely ensure that MPs always vote in favour of the Government, Frankly, I’d sooner have incredibly corrupt MPs than lackeys of the Government.

  • I hope this process drags on and on as the already palpable cynicism with which the political establishment class are viewed by most people gradually slides into loathing. From such seeds do interesting fruits grow.

    Beware, Perry. There are many such fruits, and most of them are poisonous.

    This would indeed be a great opportunity for the defenders of freedom, if those defenders were in a position to capitalize. I do not see that they are. More likely, Britain will see demagogues like the BNP or worse rise up. Or the most frightening possibility, that the state will simply sweep away the atrophied institutions of democracy and rule with naked force.

    That it is the MPs held up to such calumny, and not the bureaucrats and commissars who actually have real power, should give pause.

  • Nobody has identified the real problem: this is that the wrong people have been allowed to “enter parliament”.

    This is of course our own fault entirely. Getting and spending, being yuppies and earners and strivers, and taking our Eye Off The Ball, and laying waste our powers, we have allowed mountebanks, GramscoFabiaNazis, post-modern destructors, socialists of all kinds, bureaucrats, political science graduates or not, and so on, to get control of liberal pluralist politics in an initially civilised society.

    It was inevitable that, we not paying attention, people who had never done a real job in their lives, such as running private firms or even shops, or ships, or at a pinch being generals or even corporals, would “get into Parliament”. The result was that they didn’t know what “expenses forms” really meant, and what the penalties were for doing one wrongly. They thought that expenses were what we gave them as a right, as opposed to what they could claim as what they thought was a right.

    In future, nobody ought to be able to “enter Parliament”, without

    (a) being a liberal
    (b) being over 60 years old
    (c) having run a “firm”
    (d) having been a general or at least a junior staff officer and have actially killed someone under fire
    (e) having been al old lad/old man who runs a charity shop for the RNLI (not a fake-charity, for they do not qualify)
    (f) never having voted for any fascist party such as Labour

    That will clear out the cross and gunge.

  • This would indeed be a great opportunity for the defenders of freedom, if those defenders were in a position to capitalize. I do not see that they are. More likely, Britain will see demagogues like the BNP or worse rise up.

    Indeed but it is clear who is benefiting from the continuation of the way things are now, so I do not see *not* rolling the dice as an option.

  • Paul Marks

    David Davis – the trouble with the above is that it fits Senator Jim Webb.

    Combat officer (I do not know if he did any desk job staff work as well), Navy Sec (for Reagan – and that does the staff thing).

    At least 60 years old – well the man must be about that.

    Private sector experience – yes lots, wrote best selling books and employed people.

    Done charity work – yes, for Vietnam vet and others.

    Trouble is that Sentator Webb is an Obama supporter who knows less about politics than the cat I met today (less because the cat trusted its senses, it moved away from people who were hostile and moved towards me – Senator Webb senses that there is something wrong with Barack Obama, I can see that from his body language in the presence of “The One”, but allows his “reason”, i.e. what he is supposed to think, to over ride his instincts).

    Sorry but Boris Pash was correct – having a record of killing Communists is simply not enough. A person must have a proper political education (in the true sense – I do not mean a university education). Otherwise the Communists will manipulate him without the person even being aware of it.

  • As far as I’m aware, there’s no way of compelling them to do this.

    But, it is teaching them a lesson about business (most of them have never been involved in it, of course) which is that it’s not just about what’s in your contract, it’s about what keeps your customers happy.

    So, they can choose to whine about this all they want, and their constituents can choose not to give them their vote next time.

    Their choice.

    The simple answer to expenses is to get MPs to simply write down their required remuneration on the ballot paper and ask constituents to choose based on how good they think a candidate is and the price (and the constituents will pay that price). That it is done at constituency level resolves differences of cost between the people in London or Edinburgh.

  • Paul Marks

    Someone said they would rather have corrupt MPs than lackeys.

    You have got both.

    This became obvious to me some years ago. Nick Ridley dragged himself off his death bed (I mean that literally – the man was dying and he staggered from his death bed to the House of Commons) to warn against voting for the Masstrict.

    The members of the House of Commons knew that Mr Ridley was telling the truth – and they knew what he was suffering to come and tell that truth.

    And they voted for the treaty anyway.

    They made calculations on the basis of their chances of ministerial office (“I could do some much good – but I have to stay inside the tent” – the sort of defence that men like David Davis told themselves, but kidding yourself does not alter the wrongness of an action) or they simply were nto prepared to risk their pay and perks.

    From the Prime Minister down we are constantly told that the House of Commons must no longer be a “gentlemans club” – but that is exactly what it is NOT. Someone does not get pay and so on for being a member of such a traditional club.

    This is a problem – even someone with principles who comes into the House of Commons becomes dependent on this postion for their INCOME and (worse) starts to resent earning less than friends who have not gone into the House of Commons.

    There is only one way out of that – pay them nothing at all (as it was before 1911). Then they will have to keep a real job and they will depend on that for their income (not politics). And make sure the hours of the House of Commons are cut – basically to the level of the New Hampshire lower house or the Texas Legislature.

    Being a member of the House of Commons should not have become a “job” – you are not there to sort out your constituents welfare claims, you are there to decide whether or not there is a Welfare State.

    If you want to “help people” become a charity worker or a priest – not an M.P.

    “But then poor people will not get into Parliament”.

    We (and it is “we” because I am very poor) do not get into Parliament anyway.

    Even Labour M.P.s who boast of their former poverty turn out to have been officials (trade union or other) or researchers before they became M.P.s.

    People DO NOT go straight from menial occupations to being Members of Parliament (it just does not happen – it is a fraud to claim it does), so the whole “we have to pay M.P.s or the poor will not get into the House of Commons” arguement is a lie.

    The businessmen and trade union officials (and so on) who actually do get into Parliament should remain in their occupation and Parliament should only sit in the evenings and only a few days in the year at that.

    The less time it sits the less leglislation it can rubber stamp – as with the Texas State legislature (a State much bigger than Britian and with a population not vastly smaller these days).

    Of course there should not be any “delegated legislation” either – if something was not specifically voted for by the House of Commons it should not be “law” (no “statutory instruments”).

    “But the modern state can not survive without such things” – good.

    “What about the House of Lords”.

    The real House of Lords was abolished years ago – the present group of corrupt placemen should also be abolished.

  • Gareth

    A number of Members of Parliament are up in arms about the clearly arbitrary rulings by Sir Thomas Legg regarding the repayment of money claimed as expenses by various MPs. It seems obvious to me that the ‘rules’ being applied by Legg are criteria he has more or less plucked out of the air for deciding what constitutes a ‘reasonable’ expense for an MP to claim.

    Sir Thomas Legg is doing nothing arbitrary. Nor as a number of MPs claim is he doing anything retrospective. He is judging MPs by the rules laid down at the time which were quite clear, detailed and reasonable but the MPs chose to ride roughshod over. Sir Thomas Legg has been warning about this for several years according to the media. It didn’t help that the person overseeing the Fees Office was himself quite the expert at claiming expenses – the first business to be done when he moved into a grace and favour home was a £100k refit I vaguely recall.

    The rules were that claims should not appear luxurious – Gerald Kaufman and his angling for an 8K telly. That they should be for costs incurred wholly, neccessarily and exclusively for an MP doing their Parliamentary and Constituency duties – Tam Dayell’s £18k shelves which he was given nearly half the cost of, for storing a copy of Hansard which was his retirement present to himself. Margaret Moran’s third (of 4) home which was neither in her constituency or London having dryrot treated. The claims were not to suggest impropriety – stuffing your own pockets by an intermediary partnership/firm etc frankly, does. As does one MP renting another MP’s property.

    MPs were supposed to submit claims they believed met these rules In effect the Fees Office had little authority to refuse except for the most blatant of claims. Ideally the Fees Office shouldn’t have had cause to refuse a claim, ever, if MPs were honourable and decent people abiding by the rules they themselves had agreed. Their clamouring over these details getting out is reasonable evidence that they knew their claims have been massively out of touch with what people expect from them and they didn’t want us to know.

  • Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

    “the spectacle of a cross party selection of bloated hippos noisily snorting and harrumphing and rolling around in the steaming mud piles of public relations effluent slathered across the floor of the House of Commons… oh… fulsome apologies to the world’s hippos for that unkind analogy.”

    Ohh, Perry, you are channelling P.J. O’Rourke!

    I didn’t think you believed in the para-normal!

  • Paul

    There were a couple of great posts here noting the MPs are in danger of falling entirely under the control of the bureaucracy that nominally serves them and the country. But from the looks of things, have you considered the possibility they already have?

    The MPs ought to try to pass a few laws the police and more powerful institutional bureaucracies don’t like, then see if the laws are followed. That will make the truth of the matter plain.

    Trying something like this may be dangerous because the bureaucrats may not be aware they are in charge. Once they realize the truth, you Brits had better get down to city hall and file your Declaration of Loyalty forms, pay your fee, and hang your properly stamped and conformed papers in a prominent, visible location.

  • llamas

    David davis suggested a system of Parliamentary qualification, viz

    (a) being a liberal
    (b) being over 60 years old
    (c) having run a “firm”
    (d) having been a general or at least a junior staff officer and have actially killed someone under fire
    (e) having been al old lad/old man who runs a charity shop for the RNLI (not a fake-charity, for they do not qualify)
    (f) never having voted for any fascist party such as Labour

    But that attacks the problem, from the wrong end. What you need is not candidate qualification, but voter qualification.

    Many voters are as thick as two short planks and would vote for a well-groomed Irish setter, as long as it had the right letter after it’s name.

    Note – not ‘all’, but ‘many’ – and usually enough to secure or retain democratically-elected respresentation.

    For a suggested starting place for discussions of voter qualification, I suggest the parameters set out by N.S. Norway in 1955. These also introduce the interesting concept of multiple voting. Once you pre-screen the voters to reduce the influences of the mob and the moron, they themselves will do a good job of screening out worthless candidates.

    I’d only be a 3-vote man, myself. But that’s how it crumbles – cookie-wise.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

    For those who don’t get llamas reference, he is referring to the author ‘Nevil Shute’ Norway who described a very interesting proprosal in his novel ‘In the Wet’, which is available in many libraries and well worth reading. The proposal is really a thought experiment on the effect of changing the voting system to allow multiple votes for voters who qualify. He proposed that certain actions by voters, in their personal lives and in their public service, add stability and enhancement to the polity, and that such actions ought to be rewarded by extra votes.

    He proposed that voters who pay sufficient taxes (not just earn sufficient income) should receive an extra vote. He proposed that voters who remain married and raise children to adulthood should receive an extra vote. He proposed that a period of service in the armed forces, earning a degree, earning a commission (or being ordained) should receive extra votes, as would working abroad for 2 years (living on earned income not savings). His proposition allowed for 6 earned extra votes (and a seventh, which could be awarded for special service to the benefit of the state.

    He posited that this would *seriously* affect the results of elections in that those with more ‘invested’ in the state would want more serious (and less “stupid”) representatives.
    In a way this is an obverse route to fixing the ‘no represention without taxation’ trap presently plaguing the US.

    Note that, using his example, a graduate of West Point/Royal Military College (but not Sandhurst, I think) would have 3 extra votes upon finishing their agreed service period after graduation: one for service, one for the degree and one for the commission. And possibly another for an out-of-country qualification depending upon the details of qualification: sufficient time and tours of duty in Korea/Germany/Iraq etc. qualified in his novel.

    It is also interesting to note that, in the novel written in 1954/1955, but describing events 20+ years in the future, he foreshadowed the Vietnam mess, in describing how many Australian servicemen had (in the novel) qualified for the service vote and the out-of-country vote through their service *in a war in Vietnam*. (Of course the French were already engaged in a guerilla war at that time… Dien Bien Phu was 1955??).

    It is also interesting to note that, at least in the novel, no politician automagically qualified for any extra votes…

    As the saying goes: RTWT. It’s a good/different insight into problems which presently exist with the ‘one man, one vote, many circuses, much bread’ system.

  • llamas

    Oh, good, someone got it.

    I’m not saying that I like the formula that he proposed as it stands, but it’s an interesting place to start.

    His views on post-war English Socialism and the NHS are well-set-out in “The Far Country” (1952), which I understand was serialized by the BBC recently. Libertarians would find much to like in his writings, if not already familiar with them.

    llater,

    llamas