Tuesday 19 May 2009

It’s not the club, Gordon, it’s the Gentlemen

When oh when will Gordon Brown understand the problem before claiming he has solved it?

He has just given a particularly tortuous news conference in which he repeatedly claimed credit for "solving" the problems with the system which according to him have led to the devastating collapse in confidence in our democracy. Full of spin and bluster, of course – and (perplexingly) constant references to Gentlemen's clubs. He repeated that Labour MP's who had broken the rules would be cast out into the darkness. He has, he tells us, been thinking about expenses for a long time and had hoped to make reforms "before any revelations were published". Telling phrase, that.

When asked about the behaviour of his cabinet – in particular Hazel Blears – he said her behaviour was "totally unacceptable". So what is she still doing sitting in Government, Mr Brown? And what about Jackboots Smith and the other Ministers who have gamed the system and played the rules for their own benefit? Are they to continue in Government with him? At least Cameron has the decency to recognise that behaviour can be wrong even while falling "within the rules"

But the fatal error in Brown's thinking is to believe that the public care two hoots about the system. When the receptionist steals the petty cash, we don't expect her to stay on to fix the lock on the petty cash box. It is the honesty of the users of the system which the country wish to deal at the ballot box, rapidly and effectively. The Prime Minister told us two things today – first that, provided they have not actually broken the ridiculous rules, Labour Ministers and MP's will be allowed to continue drawing salaries and occupying positions of trust, and second – that once again his personal judgement is to be preferred over that of the Electorate.

He knows what's best for us, he's Gordon Brown. Trust him.

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