Stand by for action!
None other than Nick Clegg has called for reform to The House Of Lords after this week’s Mirror story about Lord Hanningfield, caught claiming £300 a day for showing up, hanging around for maybe long enough to enjoy the heavily subsidised restaurants and bars* , before disappearing off again (11 of 19 days he was there for less than 40 minutes).
Of course, Hanningfield is replete with excuses, which might be more convincing had he not already been in prison for expenses related crimes. As with all these stories, anyone with a passing knowledge of establishment politics knows this has gone on for generations, and we can at least trust Hanningfield when he says that scores of others behave in exactly the same way. The shock value is nil, but it needs to keep being reported because nothing is done.
Clegg’s call for something to be done can only underline how unlikely it is that anything will be done (unless it’s the exact opposite, and a tripling of fraud is allowed).
In any case, here’s the establishment “What To Say” as this issue trudges around again for the umpteenth time:
1) Wait till people are caught till calling for change.
2) Wait till it’s apparent that corruption is systemic, going through well trodden “isolated case” then “few rotten apples” blags.
3) Then say that THINGS MUST CHANGE!!
4) Fill endless hours of TV and radio, and acres of newspapers with the same talking heads and overpaid columnists reheating the same guff from previous scandals.
5) Order a COMPREHENSIVE INQUIRY (oooh….ahh!!!).
6) Make sure the inquiry is in safe (and very well paid) hands. Being made Chair of an important inquiry is a classic political favour.
5) Kick it all about for a couple of years, assuaging disgruntled corrupt people, before punting into the long grass saying “lessons have been learned”.
6) Use the general smokescreens as cover for ongoing corruption elsewhere, such as policy for sale (£100k to £250 for “premier league” influence), lobbying, bribes and MPs for hire (1£k to £7K per day)
7) If small changes are eventually applied, be sure to exaggerate their effect, and allow plenty of loopholes and compensations elsewhere.
8) Remember at all times to treat the public as if they are very very stupid.
* For the record, here’s a link to catering at The Commons (Lords seems harder to find, but won’t be dis-similar). Top posh-nosh subsidised by serfs, who can only expect something like a Subways for the same money.