Last week I shared a collection of statistics that have been floating around on the social media sphere which, understandably so, have been creating a stir of discontent among the voting public. It went something like this:
“Can you imagine working for a company that has little more than 635 employees, but has the following employee statistics:
29 have been accused of spouse abuse
7 have been arrested for fraud
9 have been accused of writing bad cheques
17 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses
3 have done time for assault
71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit
14 have been arrested on drug-related charges
8 have been arrested for shoplifting
21 are currently defendants in lawsuits
84 have been arrested for drink driving in the last year
And collectively, this year alone, they have cost the British tax payer £92, 993, 748 in expenses.”
The organisation in question was of course the House of Commons, the main legislative body in the UK. Yes, that’s right, the law-makers in this (apparently) Great Britain have among them more than a handful of law-breakers.
And are we surprised?
It’s common knowledge that politicians are all crooks and liars, only out for themselves. Ask any barfly or taxi driver and they’ll waste no time in telling you all about it. The MPs expenses scandal of recent years certainly convinced us so. What’s that old saying? ‘The last person to enter Parliament with honest intentions was Guy Fawkes’.
Interestingly though, Guy Fawkes was a trespasser in West Minster, the crooks and liars of the House of Commons have all been democratically elected by the people, us, the persevering voting public. Those of us who, when election time nears, look through the list of MP wanna-bes, listen to them spout the usual old tripe about community spirit, economic development, education and old people, watch them open hospital wards and kiss babies and then go along on election day and tick the box of the least irritating/most comical name. But we don’t trust them. We pick the best of a bad bunch because none of us are perfect, we can hardly expect our MPs to be so.
But seeing the misdemeanors of our democratically elected Members of Parliament listed neatly in a who’s who of robbing bastards, somehow despite all our prior suspicions and assumptions, it still holds an element of shock.
Personally, I’ve never done time for assault or been responsible for bankrupting a business or two, I have my faults, I’ll be the first to admit it. But then I am not currently responsible for the pulling the country out of economic disaster or improving the general state of the healthcare or education systems. I mean… I’ll give it a go if they want, but I’m not promising miracles. Which is why I don’t expect them from our MPs.
As much as I’d like to imagine our political leaders are some super-human Justice League of educated, morally upright do-gooders it is reassuring to know that despite the thousands of pounds spent on the Eton and Oxbridge educations of the likes of Cameron and Osbourne, the boys at the top are just as common as the peasants they serve.
Around 80, 000 people are caught drink driving every year. The figures for domestic abuse are shocking (to give you an idea, two women a week are killed by a current or former partner) and as for the poor credit, well with the current economic disaster we’re probably all a little guilty of that one. But in general, the offences of our MPs are very much common offences in the UK. One would imagine then, that those in the glass houses of Parliament would not go throwing stones, but then, one is never surprised by the contemptible actions of a politician.
Recently the Government have been building up a profile of benefit claimants in the UK – those whose curtains are still closed when the hardworking taxpayers are on their way to the office, those who are perfectly content to sit back in their council flats watching their widescreen TVs, smoking, drinking and filling their truant children with ready meals from Iceland. What a pretty picture the Coalition Government has painted of our more dependent or deprived neighbours – the scum of society, the wife-beaters and drink-drivers, the drug-addicts who cheat our grannies out of their pensions, thieves, felons, fraudsters… hmmm, I guess it does take one to know one.
But I shall not get into that particular kettle of fish today.
I will just make one simple suggestion.
If we must accept that our democratically elected members of parliament are just as corrupt and dishonest as the sector of society they are quickest to condemn, surely we can make it all a little more transparent. The fact that an MP has been guilty of writing bad cheques has not the slightest impact on my day-to-day life, saving the unlikely occurrence that cheque is being written to me, but I don’t particularly want him divvying up the exchequer come budget time. However, if a politician likes to indulge in a little powdering of the nose at the weekend, I would be more than a little concerned about their job performance, and thoroughly pissed off if they were claiming it on expenses.
So this is what I propose.
The voting public are perfectly aware of the imperfect nature of their MPs criminal records and personal reputations. Some of these misdemeanors we are willing to tolerate on the condition that they shape up and successfully prevent the country from falling in on itself. We just need to know everything up front, honesty and clarity are the best policy.
The easiest option?
Come election time, a pack of Top Trump cards displaying the strengths and weaknesses, vices and virtues of our potential Parliamentary representatives should be delivered to every home so the voting public can decide the best candidate for the job through PR-free, good old-fashioned fun.
I can picture it now…
Mr. Joe Soap, Labour Party
Strengths: Promotes local business, job creation and regulating the banks.
Weaknesses: Recreational Cannabis user, wears socks with sandals.
Would he get your vote?