Wednesday, 10 February 2010

You’ve Never Had It So Bad

The Tories don’t like New Labour, New Labour don’t like the Tories, but really can’t stand the SNP.  The feeling from the SNP is mutual.  Everyone thinks the Lib Dems are a bunch of pious tossers.  No body cares what the Lib Dems think, but for the record they think they are the only ones whiter than white.  In the meantime, the electorate are waiting for the battle of ideas to emerge, and glad that politicians have temporarily stopped going into the television studios to say you yes you, I'm going to sack you (or words to that effect).  Can’t think why politicians are so mistrusted myself but there you go.

The moment that really killed MP’s reputations, and to be honest they aren’t really doing anything to repair that reputation, was of course the Expenses Scandal.  The police announced that 3 New Labour MP’s and a Conservative Lord would be charged for this on Friday.  It was not surprising the identity of the MP’s, featuring Livingstone MP Jim Devine who more and more looks like someone who has had a sign saying “Kick Me” attached to his back.

What is surprising is that firstly the Expenses 4 have been stupid enough to quote Parliamentary Privilege in their defence. Privilege has always been about freedom of speech, as witnessed with the furore surrounding the parliamentary question involving the oil trading firm Trafigura and their activities in Ivory Coast. 
The second surprising thing is that only four people are to be prosecuted.  The Former ministers James Purnell, Geoff Hoon and Hazel Blears did not pay Capital Gains Tax on house sales (hilariously, and with no sense of irony, Purnell was behind this little ad…), While the Ball’s flipped their homes 3 times.  Makes Boy George’s claim for £100,000 look like small beer. The examples highlighted (and there is more I could have picked) are probably as bad as those of the Expenses 4, yet there is not a sniff of a prosecution case against anyone except the four charged MP’s.  It could be that fraud is not specifically a criminal offence (which explains the lack of a prosecution against the Four Horsemen of the Economic Apocalypse, we don’t really take white collar crime seriously here, do we?).  Or that the police are living up to their Private Eye name of Inspector Knacker, and are just not doing their job.

Up here though the papers have been full of another type of scandal, one which has Scottish Cringe written through it.  The SNP auctioned off lunches with Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon at fundraising events.  These lunches were to be held at Holyrood.  Yes it is seedy, and it is creepy to see our leaders press the flesh for cash, but for the other parties to complain at Holyrood, well isn’t this the sort of grubby, creepy fundraising they get up to?

The papers and the comentariat have missed a story here, after all why exactly are the SNP having a fundraiser just weeks before the General Election?  I suspect that their bid to put their golden boy, the controversial chairman of the Scottish Islamic Foundation Osama Saeed, into Westminster representing Glasgow Central is in a degree of trouble.  The SNP needed a swing of 16.7% from 2005 to take the seat.  Up against a party sitting on a majority of 8531, with deep pockets, the SNP probably feel up against it, though the threat of losing face probably is the stronger emotion.  They don’t meant to but i suspect the SNP have signalled that they will not win their target of 20 Westminster seats at the General Election.

As I mentioned at the top, this mud slinging  is for the time being the only campaigning that is going on.  What we are waiting for is the battle of ideas to begin.  Some of us are beginning to think our politicians are as clueless about the real world as they appear.  Someone should tell them that the best thing to do when you are in a hole is to stop digging.

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