Alex Massie

Government by the Phone Book

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I confess I find this entertaining and reassuring in equal measure. A new Rasmussen Report in the United States finds that:

Forty-four percent (44%) [of] voters also think a group of people selected at random from the phone book would do a better job addressing the nation's problems than the current Congress, but 37% disagree. Twenty percent (20%) are undecided.

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Megan provides some extra evidence supporting the view that Joe Public (not to be confused with Joe the Plumber) might not be any worse than what our American cousins endure in Congress. As for Blighty, well when the Home Secretary insists upon treating the public with contempt then she, and her colleagues, ought not to be too surprised when the feeling is reciprocated. In spades.

UPDATE: Of course, the excesses of British parliamentary zeal were once curbed by Government by Phone Book. It's just that the phone book in question was Debrett's. As Charles Moore says in the magazine this week:

The Sunday Times chose to highlight the finding of its opinion poll that 58 per cent were ‘shocked by the revelation that peers would accept payment for amending legislation’. But the much more striking figure in the survey is that 75 per cent wanted hereditary peers to remain in the House of Lords. If you are worried about ‘sleaze’, this is a wise intuition. Obviously hereditary peers are no better, on average, than any other group of human beings. But since they sit in the Upper House by accident they are less likely to have collusive relationships with ministers and officials.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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