Monday, 17 August 2009

Beware the Men (and Women) in White Suits

If you are a discredited Member of Parliament over the expenses scandal and not one of those that is standing down, beware the man in a white suit is organising. The MP for Tatton from 1997-2001 Martin Bell and the former Archbishop of Canterbury's special envoy Terry Waite are organising a concerted effort of independent anti-sleaze candidates for those that are determined to stand again.

For certain Liberal Democrat PPCs this could spark bad news. As the party that has been pushing for reform of the whole system, expenses, voting, contributions, House of Lords etc, some of our candidates were well placed to make the most of the party's historic stance on such issues, rather the Johnny come lately and lightly approach of both the Tories and Labour parties.

The independents will be looking to bring back honest politics, the mantra that is being high-jacked by the Conservative Party of late. Seeing as the Tories through George Osbourne are claiming to be the 'dominant progressive party' when their spending cuts are going to be regressive to the poorest in our society. As Danny Alexander MP said:

"A progressive party would not cut taxes for multimillionaires, stand in the way of reforming parliament or side with bigots, homophobes and climate change deniers in Europe."

Even Lord Mandelson recognises how 'laughable' their approach is:

""Would they really consider it would be progressive to do that, with the economic and human consequences that their actions would have now?

"At one level it is laughable. At another, I think it is frankly irresponsible for them even to put forward these ideas."

But the Tories approach to the truth, their twisting of language and there inaction over reform is where honesty is needed. But it is not coming from them, it has not come from Labour and looks unlikely to emerge.

The Lib Dems have said we need change, have said how it can be achieved, admitted it will be tough. While sticking to our principles realise that in current times some of that will have to be aspirational rather than deliverable immediately, because of the mess we are in. This is in deference to the Tories thinking progressive for the rich won't be regressive for the poor and Labour who are denying everything, and still blaming the Tories 12 years on.

So there is a need for honesty in politics. The big two haven't got it. The men and women in white might do enough to keep them in if it splits the vote for reform.

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