Toby Young

The anti-sleaze party

The anti-sleaze party
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I got a curious email yesterday from my friend James Evans, who runs "Why don't you stand as an independent at the general election? Never will be a better time for independents, you know the media and even with any new rules cld probably earn enough as an MP."

I'm not sure I'm the man to do it, but as sure as eggs are eggs someone will emerge as the Martin Bell of this crisis. My first thought was: Paul Staines, aka Guido Fawkes. I immediately dispatched an email: "Why don't you change your name to Guy Fawkes by deed poll and stand as an independent at the next General Election? Ideally, in the constituency of some prominent trougher with a very slim majority. You might even get elected ..."

His response was: "Good idea. Why don't you?"

My reason for not leaping at this chance is that I wouldn't relish the prospect of the press going through my finances with a fine-toothed comb -- though I will point out that I was the subject of an inquiry by the Inland Revenue last year (selected at random) and passed that test. If a journalist does end up standing as an independent -- Peter Oborne? Rod Liddle? Peter Hitchens? -- he or she will have to be whiter than white.

It's not inconceivable that more than one independent could get elected, so great is the public's disenchantment with the Parliament of Whores. In fact, how about an alliance of 25 independents all standing under the banner of making the House of Commons and its affairs more transparent? Expense claims instantly accessible on the Internet, webcams in all the bars, electronic tags on MPs to trace their whereabouts during debates, random breathalyzer tests, etc. If the next General Election results in a hung Parliament, the Anti-Sleaze Party could make adopting these measures a condition of winning its support. Who knows, Stuart Wheeler might even be persuaded to finance a modest campaign.

The 25 seats would have to be selected according to an algorithm combining the slimmest majorities with the largest amounts claimed by sitting MPs. Interestingly, an inverse correlation is already emerging between the amount MPs are willing to pay back and the size of their majorities, as Ben Brogan has discovered.

Oh, what the hell. If 24 other people can be persuaded to throw their hats into the ring, I'm game. Over to you, Guido.

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Written byToby Young

Toby Young is the co-author of What Every Parent Needs to Know and the co-founder of several free schools. In addition to being an associate editor of The Spectator, he is an associate editor of Quillette. Follow him on Twitter @toadmeister

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