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26 June 2009

More corruption, more laws

The return of Labour's much-missed pledge card, Craig Murray's buoyant election campaign and Italian

By Paul Evans

Cleaning up with Pledge

Our old friend Tacitus said that “the more corrupt the state, the more laws”. As the flood of astonishing claims finally began to dry up, this was the week when party leaders sought to stamp their authority on the expenses scandal by hammering their tribes into line with rules and diktats. Usefully, this will eliminate the need for any of them waste time searching for a moral compass or sense of decency.

Cameron took the lead by demanding that errant Conservatives return to the fees office claims that his scrutiny panel had determined to be beyond the pale. This nameless libertarian was ambivalent about the gesture.

“Difficult to know what to say other than “‘oh’,” he wrote. “As a taxpayer I’m pleased we’re getting some of the money back (no doubt to be wasted by the government in some other way), although I do have to say that I’d be happier if it hadn’t been robbed from us in the f**king first place.”

Following the “big payback,” David Cornock noted Welsh MP David Davies’ enthusiasm both for tough scrutiny of our fiscal contributions and of his own parliamentary expenses. After Cameron’s demand that he stump up repay expenses on a council tax, mortgage interest and a plant pot, he wryly noted:

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“So David Davies will find himself £2,033.87 poorer and could be forgiven if he has second thoughts about setting up his own independent panel. To add to his woes, he can’t recall or trace the plant pot.”

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The PM struck back by bringing back that much-missed New Labour icon: the pledge card. Candidates will have to agree not to steal from us and to regularly remind constituents who they are. Meanwhile Brian Barder on Labour List blogged a bleak missive. “The expenses scandal isn’t the only reason for sensible people of all political persuasions to despair of both politics as currently practised,” he wrote, pointing to the “childish baying and general tribalism” of PMQs.

Away from Westminster, our former man in Tashkent, Craig Murray was in buoyant mood, as his campaign to become the next MP for the vacant seat of North Norwich was given a boost by the Corrigan Brothers, who have granted him license to use their MP Expenses Song.

Elsewhere, Paul Burgin wanted to know why Cameron has failed to sack Eleanor Laing, Jonathan Calder was puzzled by David Tredinnick’s esoteric claims and Guido wondered whether Members had taken the “clean hands” mantra rather literally.

What have we learned this week?

Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens points to the irony of perfidious Albion hosting Press TV, the Iranian state broadcaster which: “…spends much of its time ‘interviewing’ luckless, trembling Iranians, clearly under duress, who claim that Britain and MI6 have been encouraging them to cause trouble”.

Londoners will have noticed that the station’s recent advertising campaign on the buses and tube, promising to give “a voice to the voiceless,” is redundant since the election of Griffin and Brons on June 4th, as Holocaust deniers and totalitarians now do have a voice.

Around the World

Controversial Genoan comedian Beppe Grillo blogged to an unborn Italian. Reflecting on his nation’s approaching 150th anniversary, he pointed to Italy’s World Cup success, but feels history may judge it outweighed by a seemingly endless list of woes, not least:

“[t]he non-existent public services, the self-serving political parties that plunder public resources, Berlusconi, the worst opposition in the whole of Europe, the destruction of the sense of public duty, the elimination of information, one of the world’s highest public debt levels, a Parliament that is teeming with convicted criminals, an industrial system that lies in ruin..”

His torrent of despair concluded: “Do we really want another one hundred and fifty years like these? Italians!!! But no one answered.”

Videos of the Week

Young Conservatives and video cameras are a dangerous combination. It all ends in tears in this Don’t Panic video featuring Tooting’s Mark Clarke, a candidate whose behaviour memorably provoked the ire of Dizzy. Discovering that the film painted them unflatteringly, London Conservative Future made the bizarre and infantile move of claiming its copyright.

If that isn’t enough to cheer you up, let your economic despondency drift away to the strains of the Indelicates’ Recession Song.

Quote of the Week

“Is it just me or does this have a Back to Basics whiff to it?”

Plato Says is left puzzled by the Labour candidate pledge.