Over at The Guardian, Nick Clegg highlights that expense abuses are just one symptom of a bankrupt political culture, and argues that Britain deserves real change. Here’s an excerpt:
Britain’s MPs are facing a summer of reckoning. All 700,000 pages of their expense claims are going to be published in July. It’s an investigative journalist’s dream – reams of fodder to mock and hound the political establishment.
Many of the revelations will be relatively minor, but taken together they are significant. Last year I began publishing my expense claims voluntarily. People wrote to me asking questions about individual domestic items. Quite right too – it’s their money I’m spending.
With this process under way, Westminster is now awash with rumours that some serious misdemeanours may also come to light. Whatever happens, the drip-drip effect will hit all political parties very hard; although many of the accusations will be unfair (most of what MPs claim is absorbed by staffing costs), the impression that we are milking the system will stick. …
Ignoring the growing resentment towards politicians is dangerous. I hear it in the public meetings I hold around the country: people want to give mainstream politicians a kicking. And if history teaches us one thing, it is that economic turmoil breeds political anger, frustration and extremism. And there are populists now poised to exploit the widespread feeling of powerlessness in this summer’s European elections.
Change is difficult when the two establishment parties have every reason to keep the system stitched up between them. As long as they believe that they’ll have a turn at the wheel, they have no interest in opening up our politics to real change, real democracy.
But we’ve got to do something different. And that should begin with urgent reform to the lamentable system of MPs’ pay and expenses. But then it must go much further. We must reform politics itself.