Thursday, May 14, 2009

Drowning in Expenses

Over in the UK the scandal over MPs expenses continues to grow and engulf more MPs.  Prime Minister Gordon Brown today suspended Elliot Morley from the Labour Party over Morley claiming 16,000 pounds in mortgage payments on a loan he already repaid.  Morley is a former minister, chairs the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, and serves as Gordon Brown's advisor on climate change issues, and his future as an MP is on doubt. 

Labour is not the only party to be caught up in this scandal.  Andrew MacKay, a parliamentary aide to Conservative leader David Cameron, resigned his position as Cameron's aide over problems with his expenses.  Earlier this week, Cameron ordered members of his front bench team to pay back any excessive excessive claims they made.  

According to polling data, both Labour and the Tories are suffering but the Liberal Democrats and the assorted third parties are both up in polling.  Last week the Conservatives were predicated to have a majority of 150 in the event of a general election but their expected majority is down to 100.

Another casualty might very well be the Speaker of the House.  Speaker Michael Martin is receiving harsh criticism over his handling of the scandal.  Some MPs harbor a suspicion that the Speaker is preventing a full inquiry into the scandal over expenses and preventing the introduction of reforms.  An all-party group of MPs have even introduced a motion of no confidence in the Speaker.  The Guardian even reported that senior MPs went to Speaker Martin and told him that he needs to stand down at the next general election.     

I don't know what will come from this scandal.  I do not think Labour will recover to make any type of comeback, but I can't see the Tories gaining any advantage from this and I see this as actually cutting into their potential majority.  A new Speaker might be in store when a new parliament convenes and may even be in place before a new parliament convenes.  It also seems clear that major ethics reform will be in place, and some even suggest this scandal will lead to a dissolution of Parliament and a new election.  It is clear that Parliament will be much different after this scandal that it was before. 

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