Yesterday, we learned that 3 Members of Parliament and a member of the House of Lords are to face criminal charges for claiming expenses to which they were not due. We were also told that a majority of MPs have been asked to repay some of the expenses that they had previously claimed. I suspect that many of these over-claims were innocent mistakes. I also suspect that many other not so 'innocent' mistakes, or claims which the voters would think outrageous were not included in Sir Thomas Legg's report. What I think of all this is of little consequence, but what is of consequence is that the people of Britain find it outrageous and shameful. Since that first day when the Telegraph began its exposure of what had been going on, the people have grown ever more incredulous. They would have been entitled to think that it could not get any worse. Well, today it did.
Unbelievably, we learned today that the three MPs who have been charged with committing a criminal offence are trying to claim 'Parliamentary privilege' to avoid prosecution. Apparently, this 'privilege' dates back to 1689. They are claiming that their election as Members of Parliament granted them the legal right to steal money from the state (allegedly), and to cheat the state (allegedly) without fear of criminal sanction. Its sounds unreal, but it's not - and its happening in Britain today.
What a tragedy it is that a General Election was not called last year. For almost a year, the UK has suffered under the yoke of a stinking rotten parliament. The reputation of politicians, guilty and innocent has been trashed, and will be further trashed by today's extraordinary developments. And nothing will change (nor should it) until a General Election is held. The people must have their say. We're not in a position to find anyone guilty of a criminal offence, and have to await the judgement of the courts before doing so. But we can judge MPs who claim its proper in law to hide behind parliamentary privilege to avoid answering criminal charges. We should judge them harshly because of the damage they have delivered to our already tottering democracy.