David Blackburn

MacShane suspended

MacShane suspended
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Denis MacShane, the lachrymose MP for Rotherham, has been suspended following the Privilege and Standards Committee’s decision to report him to the Metropolitan Police. MacShane also got into scalding water recently when he castigated a member of IPSA’s staff with what might be termed ‘most unparliamentary language’.

MacShane is one of the old guard who had a flagrant disregard for the public purse. But, even so, he has a point when it comes to IPSA. A bad system is no better than one easily exploited. Ben Brogan explains in his Telegraph column:

‘No wonder then that they, along with the MPs who survived the May cull, are frustrated by the obstacles placed in their way by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. The watchdog was designed to oversee a more efficient and less costly expenses regime but it still struggles to make things work; the complaints keep coming. Sometimes the stories are comical, like the description of MPs who nearly missed a vote this week because they had to queue, Soviet-style, for their IPSA dinner receipt vouchers if they wanted a meal at work.

Yes, the moans from old-timers elicit little sympathy. But the descriptions by new MPs of how they have cashed their ISAs to fund office costs, extended their overdrafts and given up trying to claim travel expenses show just how close we are to institutionalising new ways of preventing politics from working as it should. MPs should not profit from the system, but nor should they be left at a disadvantage.

Mr Cameron told the Telegraph three weeks ago that IPSA was not working and he was "keeping an eye on it", with a view to scrapping it and starting again. This is the irony of British politics as we prepare for next week and the moment when the Coalition gives us the honesty we demand. Just as we are finally seeing the emergence of better politics, our better politicians are hampered by a system that would have been right then but is wrong now.'