Brown promises future transparency

Details of expenses claims were finally published online yesterday, but there have been widespread attacks from all sections of the public and media (including, unsurprisingly, Acid Rabbi) over the vast amount of redactions which have given many of the documents a look not unlike 60x60 crossword with only five clues. Although it was widely known that addresses, bank details and the like would be edited, the sheer scale of editing has left many people wondering if the most damaging claims have been censored.

Some MPs, also, are said to be unhappy as they feel the redactions are liable to prevent the public from understanding the circumstances of claims and thus lead to them being misconstrued - Commons officials have stated that all members can publish further details on their own websites if they wish. David Cameron, seizing a chance to make himself look a more honest man than Gordon Brown and hopefully attract a few more votes as a result, has said that all Conservative MPs will be required to provide certain extra information in this way - the Shadow Cabinet have been expected to publish their claims online since the 12th of May, and the data can be seen on the Tory party's website.

They may oppose one another across the Commons debating chamber, but sometimes Gordon Brown and David Cameron see eye to eye. Unfortunately, while doing so, both have utterly failed to see the point. OMG look away - they're going to kiss!
Images from Wikipedia.

"This is a large but necessary task," Mr. Cameron says, "...But I am determined that, from this point on, myself and my shadow cabinet will do all we can to be as transparent as possible. Only then can trust between the public and their politicians begin to be rebuilt." Well, at least he seems to understand why the public are so angry.

Mr. Brown has been defending himself while attending a conference in Brussels, explaining that "the redacted expenses were part of the old system. That cannot be the new system. The old system is being swept aside by the changes that we are making. A new, far more transparent system is being introduced."

Although the PM is making similar noises to Mr. Cameron he has shown his true colours by his reluctance to publish details into the investigations into expenses claims made by Shahid Malik - claims which led to the Dewsbury MP's temporary departure from the Cabinet - and the Iraq War; though he eventually backed down in the face of strong public opinion and changed his mind in both cases.

Though we should all be pleased that, in the future, we will (assuming Mr. Brown isn't just lying...you can nver be sure with politicians) see greater openess in Government and enjoy greater access to information on what is being done in our name along with what our hard-earned tax money is being spent on, neither Mr. Brown nor Mr. Cameron seem to be aware that they are shutting Parliament's door long after the horses have bolted. The damage has been done. Had they all have come clean, admitted the expenses system was both open to and a victim of massive, widespread abuse and begun to do something about it we might just still have some faith in their integrity. But because they only started to clean up their act after campaigners using the Freedom of Information Act started chipping away at the walls of secrecy and in response to the Daily Telegraph and its mysteriously-obtained copies of expenses documents we now know that many, indeed most, MPs will if given the chance line their own pockets at our expense.

Several politicians - party leaders, Cabinet ministers and back-benchers alike - have recently appeared on the television and in the newspapers bemoaning the fact that they have lost public trust and making all sorts of promises concerning the things they're going to do to get it back. It's too late: the British population will never assume good faith in Parliament again.

Once upon a time, when our grandparents were young, the so-called Common Working Man expressed deference towards a politician. A Member of Parliament was considered to be someone to be respected, but as we all know respect must be earned - and sometimes, someone shows they do not deserve it at all.

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