Peter Hoskin

We don’t do contrition

We don't do contrition
Text settings

If you thought your opinion of Parliament couldn't sink any lower, then think again.  This morning's papers contain a couple of grim revelations about how MPs are responding to the expenses scandal, and they certainly fit in with the sorry pattern of denial and evasion that we've witnessed so far.  Take the email sent out by the Parliamentary Labour Party to Labour MPs, and covered in the Independent.  It hardly strikes a contrite tone, as it tells them that:

"It would be easy for the public to gain the impression from this [media] coverage that MPs are generally claiming excessively or outside the rules laid down by Parliament, which is not the case."

And then there's the "plot" to bring in a private sector company to run the expenses department, uncovered in the Times.  It all sounds promising enough on paper - why not introduce an external auditor? - until you realise that it would prevent future receipts from getting published under the Freedom of Information act.  Hm.  Convenient, that.

What's most galling about these stories is that they suggest a proper solution won't be reached.  If the public's faith in Parliament is ever to be restored, then it will require an acceptance of wrongdoing on the part of the political class, along with greater transparency in future.  To be fair, David Cameron has made encouraging noises on this; especially in comparison to a morally bankrupt Gordon Brown.  But - lest the Tories forget, as they seemed to in the wake of the Derek Conway affair last year - this crisis will require more than noise to fix.