Belmont Club

The End of the Day

The Times Online reports that the Mother of Parliaments is losing its most ancient of privileges, the right to run its own affairs, to the Mother of All Scandals.

Parliament was forced to surrender its ancient right to run its own affairs on a momentous day in which the Speaker, Michael Martin, paid for the scandal over MPs’ expenses with his job.

The Prime Minister announced that the financial affairs of MPs would be taken over by independent regulators. The Commons Fees Office, which approved the expenses claims that have brought the political system into gross disrepute, will be abolished.

Gordon Brown said that Westminster would no longer operate like a gentlemen’s club, making its own rules, and said that the moves would change centuries of history for Parliament.

The British blog Samizdata argues that politicians have finally constituted themselves as a separate class from the people they purport to serve and this time they’ve been caught after a heist in full view of the cameras, divvying up the loot. Now they’re paying the price, and about time, too.

This whole saga demonstrates the truth of the thesis that politicians increasingly have come to regard their own interests as set apart from the country as a whole. It adds to the notion, put forward by Sean Gabb, of an “Enemy Class” that is quite consciously at odds with the more conservative (small – c) values of the country. Of course, there has always been an element of this – it is naive to imagine that Parliament ever quite met some Greek ideal – but it is now in a particularly bad way.

Let’s hope Mr Martin sees sense and takes the proverbial bottle of whiskey and the loaded revolver into his study. He will be the first Speaker to be ejected from his role in more than 300 years. Not a record to be proud of.

As an aside, it surprises me still how little this whole saga is registering in the foreign media. Anyone got any examples of US, French, German etc coverage of this? It might be nice if even Instapundit mentioned it.

If the British scandal has been missed the reason is probably because the US political class is riveting attention on itself. Instapundit calls its readers attention to Las Vegas, where it is not OK for ordinary people to vacation (shame, shame, hiss) but OK for Barack Obama to hold a political fundraiser in.


The cancelled conventions and meetings have cost the Las Vegas economy over $100-million, not including gaming revenue.

“I am disappointed at the hypocrisy shown by this Administration,” Gibbons said, “President Obama is coming to Las Vegas later this month for a political fundraiser, but he will not help the struggling families in Las Vegas and Nevada who are out of work because of his reckless comments.” Governor Gibbons noted, “President Obama is coming to Las Vegas to raise campaign cash for Senator Harry Reid, apparently our money is good enough for the President, but our tourism, jobs, and economic future are not.” Gibbons added, “This is politics, pure and simple, President Obama stood for change, but all he has done is brought negative economic change to Nevada.”

Hmm. I wonder how this will impact Harry Reid’s re-election campaign?

Same dog, different collar. As Tolstoy once said in Anna Karenina (or did he?) ‘Politicians are all alike; hence every unhappy nation is unhappy in its own way’. Or words to that effect. And maybe that’s not just cheap psychoanalysis. The system is lunatic in a very literal way. The Daily Mail reports that MPs are asking for funds to pay shrinks after having been stressed out after being caught with their hands in the cookie jar. We live in a very caring civilization.

A psychiatrist has been made available to counsel cheating MPs who are ‘stressed’ by the expenses scandal.

The therapist has been retained on-call because of concerns that some politicians are close to mental breakdowns following scrutiny of their claims, the Mail understands. At least half a dozen MPs have been reported to the police following allegations that they have committed crimes by fiddling their taxpayer-funded allowances. The Mail reported this month that three unnamed backbenchers were said to have been placed on ‘suicide watch’ by Labour whips.

The psychiatrist, paid from taxpayers’ money, will be on hand to counsel MPs struggling to cope after details of their excesses were revealed, sources say.

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