Friday, 29 May 2009

Three cheers for the 'Expenses Crisis'

Okay, so it turns out that most of our politicians are brazen chancers with their snouts well and truly buried in the taxpayer-funded trough - what a surprise that is! But far from being all doom and gloom for UK politics, there are actually some good things about the so called 'expenses crisis': for one thing, with the BBC's 'Question Time' moved to peak viewing hours and civic halls packed to the rafters for public meetings with constituency MPs, the British public have not been this animated by politics for decades! Admittedly there seems to be a Jerry Springeresque element to the masses' new found passion for politics - the thrill of venting righteous judgement on the low-life miscreant squirming on the public stage - but the fact that the issue of financial corruption and the waste of public money seems to have become so important to the British electorate can only be a good thing for democracy and for the idea of widespread political engagement. And for smaller parties the massive level of public contempt for the three main parties should also be a massive boost. But perhaps most important of all is the fact that the corruption has not been allowed to continue indefinitely and the public still have enough power that the politicians have had to sit up and take very serious note of public outrage. This says a great deal for our political system and indeed, the very fact of public outrage at the greed and underhandedness of many members of our political class is a healthy sign for our political culture; in many countries, the use by politicians of public money to feather their own nests is reluctantly accepted as a fact of life.
Finally, it's very reassuring to see one of the vital checks and balances of our political system in action and working extremely well - an institution without which the whole scandal would never have been brought to light in the first place; namely, the free press.