Thursday, 13 August 2009

Alan Duncan is right

Unequivocally right. As is Sir Patrick Cormack when he came on Today on Radio 4 this morning.

The expenses scandal is now leading to a 'Great Deterence' of people wanting to go into Parliament because they feel the press are now too intrusive and because the cost of doing so will continue to rise, but the means to meet those costs will not. All the hand-wringing columns and phone calls to Five Live of people who are outraged and disgusted by the scandal - and rightly so - have built up into an avalanche of apathy.

What is needed is for people to take a more active interest in their democracy. Too many British people do not vote, or join political parties, or take an active role in their democracy. If we had been watching our MPs properly, then this would simply not have happened. We have much to change in ourselves if we want the government we tell ourselves we deserve.

People who criticise MPs for being 'fat cats' and sat in their 'ivory towers', as the chair of Conservative Democracy did on the World at One today on Radio 4, are so out of touch with reality that it pains me. We need professors, not ploughmen, in Parliament. People who are experts, intelligent hard-working people. Professors aren't out of touch with the real world - they pay mortgages, they go out to the pub with their friends, they shop in Morrisons, their cars break, their children struggle to get the school they want and so on. But at the same time they have the qualifications and experiences needed to make a good job of being an MP.

No-one should ever be an MP as a first job, nor as a vocation - which is the same thing as Sir Patrick Cormack fears with his talk of the Commons being full of 'political anoraks' and 'very rich people'. MPs should be people with a genuine dedication to the cause of public life, with lengthy experience of working in the private or public sectors and compotently qualified to do what is required of them. I don't care if my MP is white, or black, nor gay or straight, nor female or male, nor into BDSM or vanilla, nor any other distinction. These are irrelavant to the end need to having well qualified people in the job. In the current climate, this will not happen.

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