Friday, July 20, 2007

The cash for honours farce

After sixteen months of investigation at a cost of nearly £1million yielded no convictions whatsoever in the ‘cash for honours’ claims, only two things appear plain to me. Firstly, the long overdue abolition of the entire honours system is now more necessary than ever. An embarrassing colonial throwback, it is entirely inconsistent with our claims to be a modern democracy. What possible reason could there be to ordain somebody with the title ‘Sir’ in this day and age? MBEs and OBEs are even more of an anachronism: the United Kingdom is barely a cohesive entity at the moment, never mind titles referring to the age of Empire! Let’s ditch these silly little ceremonies right away. The other outcome should be a serious overhaul of the party funding system. As I’ve argued elsewhere, we should look at introducing state funding of major political parties. While this does cut across my own liberal principles (I generally favour less state involvement), I find it less offensive than parties auctioning their policy formulation to wealthy private donors, big business, professional lobby groups and trade unions. Although nobody has been prosecuted, the whole affair reeks of the sewer and the stench now hangs, rightly or wrongly, over the entire political system, thus reinforcing the level of mistrust and apathy that the British public routinely feel for their political system. This is a tragedy because, despite what many might tell you, we actually have one of the best democracies on the planet. Indeed, one could mount a case that the very fact that the police were investigating the issue at all, even interviewing the prime minister in the process (as a witness, not a subject) is testament to that fact. That said, it is not hard to see how the lack of any real outcome to proceedings has been very damaging. I rarely find myself agreeing with Sir (there we go again) Menzies Campbell, but he is correct when he says:

“This whole affair has diminished politics and politicians in the eyes of the public. Never again must there be any question of any link between preferment and financial support.”

1 comment:

ph said...

I thought, at last Blair will have to face some sort of come-uppance for the maelstrom of spin, sleaze and lies that he has inflicted upon us for a decade. But no, he has the last laugh