Pesky Libdems

They’re not happy. The Tory Right are on manoeuvres. And the Lib Dems are in their sights. It seems that the grumbling and the finger-pointing are getting, well, a bit more pointed.

In yesterday’s Express Paul O’Flynn’s column argues: “not only is the Lib Dem presence in the Government damaging the country, it is now also doing potentially lethal damage to Conservative electoral prospects”. He goes so far as to conclude that it is time to end it all: “[t]he coalition is damaging Britain and damaging the Tories too. As the political leader of both, David Cameron cannot evade his responsibility for this any longer. He should bring it to an end”.

But perhaps the clearest statement of the Right Wing case against the Lib Dems was presented on Thursday in the Daily Telegraph by Liam Fox under the heading The Libdems are blocking Britain’s recovery. [Read more…]

Ethical renewal to banish that fin de siecle feeling

[Originally posted at Dale&Co, 15/10/11]

The Cash for Questions scandal and the associated perception of endemic sleaze contributed to the demise of the Major government. It ushered in a period of institutional renewal. The Committee for Standards in Public Life was established under Lord Nolan in the mid-1990s to keep an eye on MPs’ conduct. Similarly, the expenses scandal contributed not only in some small way to Gordon Brown’s demise but also to a substantial minority of Parliamentarians exiting stage left. It led to the end of self-scrutiny as the processing of MPs expense claims passed to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. Equally significantly, it heralded a new government promising a new cleaner, fresher approach to politics. How quickly such promises turn to dust.

These were scandals afflicting tired governments. If we think about the significance of Cash for Questions or the expenses scandal, they did not really go to the heart of the business of governing. Cash for Questions was about some relatively inconsequential backbenchers receiving inappropriate payments for asking questions in the House. With its imagery of allegedly dodgy businessmen and publicists handing over brown envelopes of used notes to elected Members it caused outrage and played well in the media. But its impact upon the course of policy or the practice of governing was arguably relatively minimal. In the light of current experiences it all looks rather tame. Similarly, the expenses scandal exposed many MPs as greedy, grasping and out of touch, but it did not speak directly to the way in which policy is made.
The situation we face now has far more serious implications for government. [Read more…]