Opinion: Can we fix it? Yes we can!

As Lib Dem president Ros Scott has alluded, this is indeed a sad week for British politics. Yet again sleaze has smeared the political canvas, but this time the stuff is flying about at such speed that even we Liberal Democrats seem to be in the thick of it. However, it seems the electorate agrees that, while we are in it, we’re not quite as bad.

But should we rejoice in the likelihood of coming second in next week’s opinion polls? I rather suspect not given that it will come at the expense of the rise in the BNP and UKIP votes at the next election. I am sure that many among us will hold principle over (probably) short term political gain on this one.

However this is all by the by. What strikes me most of all about this debacle is the parallel it draws between the crisis in the banking system and the crisis in the political one: it all comes down to trust. Like the subprime loans (which I am reliably informed by Vince Cable’s The Storm are not a huge percentage of the overall value of the market), the fact that the market did not know which parts of the system were lacking and which weren’t caused a panic.

It would seem that a similar thing has now happened with the political system in this country. The actions and negligence of a few is having is having the effect of destabilising the entire system because the electorate does not know which MPs to trust and which not. By default therefore all MPs are guilty until proven otherwise.

The talk now lies in ‘cleaning up the mess’, but it still leaves me feeling a little empty. I suspect what will happen here is another papering over the cracks with a more ‘robust’ and ‘independent’ review of expenses. The fact is that our entire political system is too opaque (not my word, Howard Dean’s at the Lib Dems’ Spring conference). Is it not time for us to shout once more about a need for a new, more transparent government? Bring back the debate.

The time is ripe and the country craving new ideas, ideas which we as Lib Dems have heralded for years, but it was never seen as much of an issue in the media. Perhaps now is our chance to win back the trust of people by proposing to fix the systemic issues rather than media savvy slams of opposition leader’s car doors and angry, disappointed faces.

Yes, some of our MPs are involved in this, but we know full well that their actions do not reflect the party. Let’s show the electorate what we really are.

* Layla Moran is a member of Ealing Lib Dems.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • David Morton 17th May '09 - 7:03pm

    The Liberal Democrats – The Diet Coke of Sleaze ? I’m sorry but the ” We aren’t nearly as bad as the others” doesn’t seem to be playing as well as some people hope.

    “It was all within the rules” doesn’t work when you wrote those rules. When the rules are so remarkably different to expenses rules that other peole have to use. The fragrant Alix Mortimar of this parish is the only blogger I have seen “get it” yet with the elegant phrase “a month changing amount of money” in reference to the £119 John Lewis trouser press.

    Its all very well to suggest that claims for £2500 TV’s during the dissolution or interior designers or £750 cherrywood chests of draws are “not as bad” as flipping. They still look bloody awful. The sums aren’t life changing but they are month changing to the quality of life of millions of people. We could finally look them in the eye with the switch to cuting the basic allowance rather than the basic rate, really shoving the benefit disproportionately to genuinely lower paid people. Then we come along with a “we aren’t quite as bad” narrative which frankly is gratuitively offensive.

    Your point about comming second in the polls is remarkably cocky. This weekends two euro pols have us battling for or in 4th place and with the Green party within striking distance of pushing us into 5th.

    We are in fourth place behind combined others in national polls.

    the closing gap with Labour is because they have fallen so low rather than we have risen at all.

    The two horses you are trying to rise are

    (a) We are a rdical force outside the establishment

    (b) but don’t pay to much attention to our 63 MP’s, sbstantial devolved presetation and thoasands of councilors. All of that inevitably leads to the odd leather rocking chair but don’t hold that against us because we’d prefer it f you focused on (a)

    Todays move from clegg o the speaker was start owever if the party wnts to profit from this Crisis rather than be less tainted by it tha the others it needs o get FAR more radical and stop thinking like the author of this article.

  • David Heigham 17th May '09 - 8:12pm

    Time to hammer home the UKIP MEPs’ financial scandals too. They have already reached criminal charges.

  • No offense, but you are just as bad as the other parties proportionally: their claims are bigger because they are bigger, but it is all just as bad.

    Most people on the doorstep wouldn’t touch you lot with a bargepole, let alone a trouser press or packet of hobnobs.

  • David Morton 17th May '09 - 8:34pm

    Politics is a perverse business and I can’t help but wonder if the sheer scale of Conservative trousering will help David Cameron. He can make virtue out of a necessity. because the blue teams sins are so venal he can come out and say what needs to be said. 1. that they are sorry 2. crack down hard, very hard on offenders, sacrifice a few heads and impose a very tough new code.

    I’m wondering if because the Lib Dem offenses seem less worse that some people can wander off into a comfort zone? and thus leave us a little outside the public mood.

    Re David Heigham. Absolutely fair point. If UKIP claim to be holier than tou the ammo is there and should be fired. But where does dragging them down into the fiasco leave politics? There needs to be a crisper narrative that tis is an absolute break with the past and that *everyone* is going to change.

    Re Layla Moran. I was aware of the publication delay when I wrote and have perhaps been a bit sharp. However we spent the 1997 to 2005 period “replacing” the conservative party to little effect. I’m buggered if I’m going to spend 2010 to 2015 listen to the same pious clap trap about the Labour party. I’ve been to too many wine and cheeses listening to quasi religious sermons about the inevitable collapse of the Tory party and its replacement with a republic of pure liberalism to go through it all again.

    We are not going to “inherit the earth” by being meek and waiting for Labour to fall apart. We’ll have to stand for something, that someting with have to be specific and spelled out and painful to the political class. it will also have to start with abroad staement that we have in part been part of the problem.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Christopher Haigh
    The prospect of a political head of stare would be truly frightening. The constitutional monarchy is there to provide ceremony and tradition and long may it con...
  • David Evans
    Although an interesting and important topic, I find the content of this article somewhat heavy on the rhetoric, but rather light on factual analysis. For examp...
  • Tom Harney
    I suggest we campaign for a way of writing a constitution for our country. We need to consider the best way of involving our fellow citizens in this. What exact...
  • Matt Wardman
    Over a period of 5 years, that does not to me look too bad. I think the more interesting short-term hit will be the removal of Hereditary Peers. Were I Mr...
  • John Barrett
    It would literally take only minutes to be courteous and to send an email to notify those who have applied, but have not been shortlisted. Whoever decided n...