The MP expenses scandal in Britain

It’s both spectacular and petty.  The fraction of MPs that truly scammed the system is tiny and the scale of the claims for the most part only seems offensive in a recession.  It was started by Cameron as a political stunt, but when Torys were implicated he had to take it nuclear or look terrible.  The Speaker was culpable, yes, but he was thrown under the bus by Brown all the same.  That The Telegraph got the complete list in a leak is more of a story, to my mind.

What style of Speaker will emerge is an interesting question.  If it’s another Labour party member, it will be easy to imagine the role moving somewhat  in the direction of the Speakers of the lower houses in Australia (where the role is quite partisan) and the USA (where it is extremely partisan).  In a parliamentary democracy (Australia, UK) , that will serve to grant the executive more power over the legislature, which is a Bad Thing ™ in my books, as it reduces the ability of the opposition to contribute to the legislative process in any meaningful way.

I’ve occasionally thought that in the event of Australia becoming a republic, the president’s primary constitutional role might simply be to ensure the fair operation of the judicio-political system.  So, for example, the president – or their appointee – might be the official Speaker of the House but would not have a vote (even in the event of a tie) and could not introduce legislation.

Of course, having the monarch appoint an independent Speaker of the Commons in the UK would get MPs’ knickers in a collective knot over the sovereignty of parliament.  Another reason to be a republic.

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