MP Expenses Scandal- ‘Politicians’ OR ‘Democracy’ to blame?

By Majed Iqbal- “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” Thomas Jefferson

Such descriptions of the mythical ‘god like’ concept of democracy could not be described more aptly and with such significance than the times British Politics is going through right now.

The last few weeks have been a roller coaster ride for many MP’s in the whole Expenses debacle- a national laughing stock and growing signs of anger and frustration from the British Population at Government and Politicians across the board.

Ratings for News channels must have soared as reality TV took a new turn with each day unveiling who has been caught in another expenses scandal. In fact Newspapers might even be thinking of releasing an end of the month top 30 ‘Lunacy Chart’ that orders the most scandalous MP expenses Issue in order with a prize for the most ‘well behaved’.

As European Elections draw closer, there is huge debate on the Role of Politicians and huge question marks on whether Politics is a Career or a responsibility to the masses and constituents.

The endless line up of accusations and betrayal of trust has drawn a huge gulf between Politicians and the people. Can they be trusted? Especially with the entire farce that has been just so difficult to swallow.

Sir Gerald Kaufman Labour backbench MP for Manchester Gorton was accused of claiming his flat in a posh block near London’s Regent’s Park was “a slum” and putting in bills for £38,834 of work on the kitchen and bathroom. He also claimed £1,851 for an antique rug, £8,865 for a luxury TV and £1,262 for a gas bill that was actually £1,055 in credit. He has no mortgage on the property but still claimed £115,109 over seven years.

Tory backbench MP Nadine Dorries took £18,000 in rent payments. Beds daily between Westminster and her “second home” in Bedford, where her daughter goes to school and her dogs stay. This would mean she claimed expenses on the wrong property.

Tam Dalyell Labour backbench MP until 2005 Accused Of: Asking for £18,000 worth of designer bookcases for his Scottish turreted castle, the House of Binns, just eight weeks before retiring as MP.

David Chaytor was disgraced following the revelation he spent nearly a year claiming £12,925 for a loan he had already paid off.

Elliot Morley claimed £16,800 in 18 months after clearing his second home’s mortgage.

There was even an Oscar level performance between parties to present themselves as the leaders of rectifying the situation. Gordon Brown challenged David Cameron to justify why taxpayers should pay millionaire MPs’ mortgages.

He told Cameron: “The rich don’t need mortgages.”

Cameron, the wealthy Tory leader has been claiming close to the maximum to pay a £1,176-a-month mortgage on a £1.4million Oxfordshire house.

Rich Shadow Chancellor George Osborne bought his £445,000 constituency home in Cheshire for cash but then raised a mortgage on it, charging the taxpayer £1,560 a month.

Anthony Steen Tory backbench MP for Totnes tried to use the sympathy vote after claiming the maximum £87,729 over four years for items including tree surgery, protecting shrubs against rabbits, a wrought iron fireplace and a survey of his rhododendrons at his £1million Devon mansion.

He Said “It’s just the system is wrong and for the public it’s totally confusing and they think we’re all crooks – but we’re not.”

Are these all just simply examples of rotten apples that need to be ‘pushed out’ to allow more ripe and a newer breed of Politicians to come out?

The American Writer, Elwyn Brooks described so simply that “Democracy is itself, a religious faith. For some it comes close to being the only formal religion they have”.

Hence it is of no surprise that Politicians have run away from criticising the ‘D’ word- Democracy. And this is no different for the News Channels, Newspapers, Magazines, Political websites, journals and blogs, all who have criticised politicians and not the Democratic system which breeds such corruption.

What is even more surprising is how the Muslim community has constantly been bulldozed into accepting democracy as part of parcel of a formation of a common identity and shared values that all British citizens must subscribe to.

In fact it was Hazel Blears, another Politician in the firing line over expenses claims, that even organised a Muslim youth advisory group to tackle ‘extremism’ and mobilise this body to engage in Politics as a counter path to those who advocate non –participation for the very above reasons.

As part of these efforts we have already seen ‘Exemplar’ ‘Muslim’ politicians presented to us in the past as voices for the Muslim Community but in the last weeks have really shown that their politics has nothing to do with serving communities but only themselves.

After Blear’s scandal, are such Politicians in the position to lecture the Muslim community on the ideals and ‘benefits’ of Democracy?

Are Shahid Malik and Khalid Mehmood simply just bad Muslims that need to be replaced with better Muslim in the Democratic process?

The ‘D’ word has reached a stage where it is sacrosanct to even question it, despite the fact that as a system it is institutionally corrupt, produces terrible laws and has switched off millions from the political process.

So is there any surprise that Muslims in Britain challenge the narrative of Democracy as the only form of governance that can guarantee prosperity? Is there any surprise when the same ideals are imposed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan that people in these regions show concern? How can such a discredited system be presented as ‘the’ model of governance countries should have?

Even more so, how can the British Government in their latest adventure, the “Contest 2” document label a Muslim as extremist who challenges Democracy?

“We want to move away from just challenging violent extremism. We now believe that we should challenge people who are against democracy and state institutions”,

This is not just a grievance relegated to a particular community, but seems to be an idea that many have reservations for- and this is not just restricted to the recent expenses furore.

“Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.” Oscar Wilde

“The more you read and observe about this Politics thing you got to admit that each party is worse than the other” – Will Rogers

“Saying we should keep the two-party system simply because it is working is like saying the Titanic voyage was a success because a few people survived on life rafts.” – Eugene McCarthy

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  1. The Infamous says:

    It shows how politics is just a dirty word in the UK.

    Khalid Mahmood admited putting expenses down for a 5 star hotel in London with his girlfriend.

    It made me laugh, not cause he had the audasity to claim for it, but that he actually had a girlfreind!!!. Great muslim politician hey………

    Shahid Malik is the entertainment king- claiming for a full scale cinema system and a £800 massage chair( but he corrected this on sky news confirming the chair was £730…lol)

  2. Saboor says:

    Paul Rowen, so called friend of Muslims in Rochdale, claimed 40p for a banana!!

    He is a fraud.

  3. democracy definately isnt perfect, and in some places it is worse than in others. however, are there really any better or more viable alternatives?

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