Archive for the ‘parliament’ Category

In tomorrow’s Mail on Sunday and Sunday Times, two stories reveal just how venal former Labour ministers are. It simply beggars belief that these four, Geoff Hoon, Patricia Hewitt, Margaret Moron (sic) and Stephen Byers will almost certainly escape at the very least some form of criminal investigation for corruption.

One other thing is certain, unless the Tories get tough on this issue and threaten to seek prosecutions for what amounts to the worst sleaze probably in modern British history, we, the long-suffering public, will simply never know to what extent we have been comprehensively fleeced by the most corrupt and disastrous regime we’ve ever experienced in Britain.

Cameron, if and when he wins, had better be genuinely ‘whiter than white’ or I guarantee that this time around there will be bloody hell to pay. He needs to be concentrating on making sure any government he leads is unimpeachable by reviving the principles of collective and ministerial responsibility which have withered and died under Blair/Brown; that any future parliament is beyond reproach by making sure any pocket-lining MPs forfeit their office; and that the sins of the past, especially by these Labour criminals, are not simply forgotten, by resisting any pressure for an amnesty. I’m sure Gordon Brown would be pleased to return the favour given half the chance – but that’s not the point.

This should be one of the major focuses of a new Cameron government, and definitely not woolly headed, watermelon carbon taxes that will severely damage the economy, justified on the basis of a now pretty thoroughly discredited scientific theory, itself a trojan horse for a socialist agenda.

Nothing less will do.

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I agree with Guido insofar as, if I understand him right, parliamentarians should be forced to make a choice upon their election: you’re either an MP (and therefore a public servent) or a corporate type on a promise (and therefore something else) – and never the twain shall meet. You must not, in other words, be connected to any private company in any way whatsoever for the duration of your office. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

As for secret slush funds and Brown denials, while I feel sorry for Tim Yeo – I think he really believes he did nothing wrong, at least in the sense of breaking any parliamentary interest declaration rules (and we all know how wonderfully immune to MPs’ fiddling parliamentary rules are, especially after the expenses scandal) – I certainly don’t for Brown, who, as always, with this secret and illegal slush fund, was only ever serving his own interests, which always take absolute precidence over those of his political comrades, parliament’s and everyone else in the entire country’s. And always have. Yeo might be reprimanded, though that should be up to the electorate. But Brown should be jailed!

Anyway, for those of you who might not know how to use YouTube yet, and will therefore have to wait until Monday for this feast of televisual Guidoese political gunpowder, I’ve performed the complex and onerous task of cutting and pasting the embed code to my blog, just for your viewing pleasure:

Seriously, though, I think this Guy News thing gets better every week.

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The Speccy’s Lloyd Evans pretty much sums-up the impact – or lack thereof – of the most inadequate, partisan and self-serving Queen’s Speech I think any of us have ever had to listen to. The Queen herself hardly seemed amused and with old lefty trolls like Denis Skinner loudly remarking that the current, hopeless Sergeant at Arms’ legs were “better than the last one”, you get a rough idea of just how contemptuous quite a large portion of the PLP is of Britain’s parliamentary traditions. It was no accident, too, that the most glaring omission from Brown’s outpourings (for that is what this was) concerned the small matters of the expenses scandal, Whitehall reform and the NHS. Conclusion? They just don’t really care. All they do care about is trying to get re-elected. Newsflash, Gordon: it’ll never happen on the strength of that meagre offering. The Spectator:

Even before the Queen had trundled back to Buckingham Palace, Mandy had let the cat out of the bag. Speaking on BBC News he said of the Gracious Speech, ‘All these laws are relevant … and achievable. It will be for the public to decide whether they want them or not.’ There you have it. The greatest power in the land admits the Queen’s Speech is Labour’s manifesto.

The response to the Gracious Speech is an enjoyably ragged parliamentary occasion, full of ancient traditions and even more ancient jokes. Frank Dobson proposed the Humble Address and spoke with pride about his Holborn constituency where the anti-Apartheid movement had been born. He met Mandela briefly after his release from prison and encountered him a second time when, as newly elected President of South Africa, he addressed a joint meeting of parliament. Mandela tapped Dobson on the shoulder. ‘You do remember who I am, don’t you?’

Seconding the Humble Address, Emily Thornberry announced how pleased she was to have been abused by Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail. It proved she’d arrived. He called her ‘scrumptious’ and ‘very county’. But Ms Thorberry corrected that impression and recalled her family’s eviction from her Guildford home by ‘bowler-hatted bailiffs’. Her single mother struggled on benefits and later became a Labour councillor – unusual in Tory Guildford – but the Conservatives were good enough to name a street in her honour. ‘Thornberry Way runs from the sewage works to the dump,’ she smiled. ‘Thanks.’

Over to Dave. He called the Gracious Speech ‘a Labour press release on Palace parchment.’ It was full of glaring omissions. No immigration bill. No sign of the promised regulations ‘to transform the culture of Whitehall’. And no mention of the NHS. This led Dave to deduce that ‘the NHS is not a priority for this government.’ That made Labour MPs very cross indeed. One leapt up and dared Dave to match Labour’s guarantee that cancer patients will be able to see a consultant within two weeks. Dave wriggled out of that one without quite making the pledge. He was then asked how he planned to maintain the army’s strength. This was bizarre. Labour MPs were acting as if Dave were installed in Number 10 and he had popped down to the house for his first PMQs.

Dave moved to Gordon’s record on employment. ‘The only jobs he has created are for his cronies,’ he jeered. He poured scorn on the ‘government of all the talents’, many of whom have taken ermine and moved to the Lords. ‘Never have so many stoats died in vain. Forget about jobs for the boys, it’s stoats for the goats.’

The most embarrassing omission in the government’s programme was the Kelly report. Cameron challenged Brown directly. ‘If he brings forward legislation to implement the rest of Kelly we will help take it through parliament.’ Brown stared down and pretended to fiddle with his papers. Dave tried again. ‘No one will understand why this vital work isn’t being done in this parliament.’ Would the Prime Minister accept Tory help? Afraid not. Gordon suddenly discovered he had something of vital importance to whisper into Batty Hattie’s ear. Dave swung a spotlight onto this Olympic display of dithering. ‘They’ve run out of money, run out of time, run out of ideas. And, we’ve just seen from the Prime Minister, they’ve run out of courage as well.’

Brown managed to raise the tone from low political knockabout to the loftier region of international relations. Afghanistan was on his mind. President Karzai had offered 5,000 troops (he didn’t specify ‘extra troops’) to hold ground recovered from the Taleban. And Karzai would soon introduce ‘an anti-corruption task force’. That sounds ominously like a new way to collect old protection money. Within NATO, Brown was pressing for ‘fairer burden sharing’ between the allies. Slovakia would shortly announce a doubling of its troop deployment.

When he moved on from the Queen’s speech, Brown relaxed a little and had some partisan fun with Dave’s proposals on inheritance tax. Labour rallied behind him, cheering with wild desperation like drunken sailors being kicked out of a party.

When Nick Clegg stood up there was an unseemly exodus from the chamber. The monarch, he said, had been asked to give ‘a fantasy Queen’s speech’. He questioned the need for yet more laws from a government which has already put over 500 measures on the statute book. ‘Legislation is Labour’s comfort blanket.’ Their proposals were full of superficial gestures. One example, a new measure against child poverty which ‘sets a target but doesn’t put a penny in the pockets of a struggling family.’ In the end, this was a Queen’s Speech written not on parchment but on rice paper.

“Never have so many stoats died in vain.” That was good. In fact, most of Cameron’s robust assault on Labour’s “press release on Palace parchment”, which I’ve just managed to watch, was good to very good – and sometimes excellent.

When all is done and dusted, however, and Labour’s pathetic policy posturing (no action will be forthcoming on any of it from incapability Brown – and thank goodness for that) there is only really one question left for the electorate: what shall we do with the drunken sailor(s)? The rest of the lyrics to that wonderful old shanty provide the answers. They do not make pleasant reading for Brown’s lame duck administration, which is now, surely, beyond salvation.

Praise the Lord!

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A new take on the expenses scandal by Andrew Alexander in the Daily Mail this morning certainly interested me. Briefly, from what he says, the majority of MPs are basically under-worked idlers leading cushy daily lives at the taxpayers’ expense – and that’s before their profiting from the long-abused old system of extra remuneration, particularly in the area of mortgage interest relief and house flipping, is taken into account. Even their passing, as, Alexander points out, various overpaid knights of the realm are hired ostensibly to get tough on abuses, will not impact on the soft furnishings and long holidays that is an MP’s current happy lot. The article itself has much more to say on these subjects than this, of course, and is rather more complex and nuanced than I’ve given it credit for in this little summary, so it is definitely worth reading it fairly closely.

The row over MPs’ expenses has gone from scandals to shambles in a few months.

Perhaps Gordon Brown and David Cameron really believed they could exorcise the abuses by calling in outside grandees.

But recruiting three knights from the ranks of the Great and the Good has led only to dispute and confusion.

Sir Thomas Legg’s examination of past expenses may have usefully highlighted some gross and even criminal irregularities.

But he has also formulated some odd, retrospective rules of his own, which almost make you feel sympathy for MPs.

We also have proposed new rules about expenses from Sir Christopher Kelly, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life – some ideas sensible and some naive.

Our next knight, lawyer Sir Ian Kennedy, heads the new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, charged with implementing the Kelly plan.

But he says that he has ideas of his own and will consult widely, even using Facebook – which is like looking for advice in a saloon bar.

Could the confusion get worse? Yes, it could.

A fourth knight has charged into the melee. Sir John Baker, formerly head of the Senior Salaries Review Board, thinks that matters could be sorted by increasing MPs’ basic pay from £65,000 to £100,000.

Do not fall for this, the most dangerous idea of all based on the scarcely sane notion that full-time politicians would improve our lives. Sadly, this belief has considerable public appeal.

Having observed MPs closely for 40 years, let me underline the basic difficulty about salaries and expenses. It lies in backbenchers effectively having two part-time jobs.

The first is as local representatives, which requires them to live in their area or have a second home there.

The second part-time job is as a legislator at Westminster. This need not be onerous, but does require MPs making themselves available on a difficult timetable.

A second home is thus a reasonable expense in a job that in any case is always at the whim of voters. Unfortunately, the system has been discredited by abuses.

Properly policed and, above all, transparent this need not be so. We do not need Kelly’s complicated plan for hotel costs or variations thereof.

Transparency is the key to containing expenses, not complex new rules. MPs know that abuses will lose them votes if publicised – as they now can be.

But once one has conceded the two homes difficulty, we should appreciate that the minimum requirements of MPs’ two part-time jobs still do not add up to one full-time job.

Those who believe that Members are overworked as legislators need only tune in to the parliamentary TV channel to observe acres of unoccupied green leather.

Tackle MPs on this and they insist that they are busy at other things, not least dealing with their postbags.

But this can be conscientiously dispatched in two hours a day. Moreover, MPs these days have an office and personal staff that can deal routinely with many problems raised by constituents.

We might also remember when MPs plead overwork that Parliament sits for only two-thirds of the year and that the working week there can be brief.

They are obliged to turn up on Monday, though often not until late in the day. They may well be away before too late on Thursday.

Helpful whips and the use of pairing arrangements make the week anything but onerous.

Yet many MPs claim to lead exhaustingly busy lives.

Some zealots do. But Parkinson’s law, about work expanding to fill the time allotted, applies in Parliament as elsewhere.

Put any group of politicians together and they can always busy themselves arguing, chatting and scheming – nothing wrong with that, but not something for which the taxpayer should be generous.

The notion that an ordinary backbencher’s job is other than part-time is quite a recent invention.

Cynics will note that the rising call for full-time pay has precisely matched the devolution of legislation from Westminster to Brussels – less work, more pay!

Outside work is not just possible but also desirable if Members are not to get even further out of contact with the real world.

There are many activities in which MPs can earn extra income, for example, journalism, law, business, accountancy and authorship.

If an MP tells you he can’t find work in any outside capacity, you have to wonder why he is fitted to be a legislator.

Unfortunately, there is a growing hostility to such work from Brown and Cameron – from Brown because the Tories get more of it and from Cameron because he thinks the public dislikes it.

However, both of them also have easier party management in mind. MPs with no trade or employment to fall back on if they lose their seats are simpler to control.

This unhealthy dependence is backed by Kelly, who proposes that Members should do outside work only within ‘reasonable limits’ and tell their voters about it at election time.

A more woolly-minded formula is impossible to imagine. It makes you wonder if we are really making any progress at all.

Fascinating stuff, but I disagree with at least one point. While it is certainly plausible for Brown’s Labour shower, given, for instance, his political vulnerability to critics from within his own party, I’m not totally convinced that the ‘easier party management’ argument entirely explains David Cameron’s acquiescence to the ban on MPs’ contract work for a couple of reasons. First, most Tory MPs had already agreed to stop contract activities long before Legg published his extraordinary report and seem if not comfortable then certainly resigned to Cameron’s new order; indeed, many fully accepted it appreciating that given the public outcry it needed to be done. The smart ones needed little convincing so the ‘easier party management’ outcome was incidental, at least for the Tories (not so for Labour, of course).

Second, it is highly unlikely that Cameron had an ulterior motive for bringing forward new rules for his party to obey. He was genuinely eager to clean up his party’s act and so he took the lead early on in the scandal and did just that, unlike Brown who has characteristically dithered all the way through and now looks the feeble, rudderless, dishonest and discredited “leader” many of us have known him to be for some considerable time. However, it is certainly the case that, as Alexander intimates, thanks to that dithering and because he is just too damn tribal and arrogant to listen to the leader of the Opposition, the resulting reforms to the way MPs must conduct themselves in public life – and the amount of work they are burdened with (or not, as the case may be) – the subsequent parliamentary reforms have Brown and his useless ministerial clan’s mucky fingerprints all over them. They are already starting to look like a typical, awful Brown fudge. If past experience is anything to go by, pretty soon they certainly will be a shambles as Alexander says – and a total, disastrous, Labour shambles to boot.

But this will simply be one more mess for the Tories to clear up after Brown’s trainwreck government is finally booted out. When Cameron comes to tackling it, however, he needs to make absolutely sure that his reform package includes one, key sentence: “MPs must earn, and be seen to be earning, taxpayers’ money”. The impression that while the rest of us work as hard as we can in our struggle to make it through Brown’s bust, our elected representatives remain pampered and lazy will not be removed by abolishing second homes for London MPs and the tearing up the John Lewis list. I also believe they should do what they have been elected to do, namely, serve as a Member of Parliament representing the constituency that elected them and not ‘advising’ private companies under any circumstances. The fact that we actually need these new rules to force them to do their jobs strikes me as a very convincing reason for why we desperately need a large influx of new and willing blood in parliament, too!

The main point for me, however, is that I believe Cameron does understand these arguments and frustrations. It’s one of the reasons why intend to lend him my vote at the General Election – and you should too. If he gets it wrong, we can always send him the way of Brown, after all. That’s what’s so good about democracy.

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Just been listening to Radio 4’s news on the way back from a little trip and was surprised (or, perhaps, wasn’t surprised one little bit) to hear that Sir Ian Kennedy, friend of Alastair “David Kelly’s Death Made Me Depressed” Campbell, no less, and appointed head of the flash, new independent committee charged with monitoring MPs’ behaviour and finances in future (but is laughably answerable to – you guessed it – a committee of MPs) has begun to backtrack on the other Kelly’s reforms. That was a long sentence, I know, but I do tend not to brake for the corners when I’m miffed. And I am miffed. This is looking like an all-too familiar New Labour balls up, with the wrong man placed in charge of the wrong solution to a problem that has one cause: people with no integrity – who need to be replaced en masse with people that do.

Anyway, the Torygraph’s Benedict Brogan blogged something on the suspicious link between Kennedy and the still-lying, cretinous Campbell earlier on. It’s quite interesting if only for the fact that liar Campbell, reduced now, or so we are led to believe, to the role of pisspoor, poisonous Labourist blogger, has anything to do with this scandal in the first place.

Alastair Campbell has produced a typically robust response on his blog to the Telegraph’s coverage of his friendship with Sir Ian Kennedy, the new expenses supremo. That the big-brained head of IPSA, the body charged with sorting out the expenses mess, thought the French were capable of producing Skylab must remain one of the great bafflements of the age.

What is more worrying, and should be studied closely by anyone with an interest in the way Parliament is addressing the challenge of cleaning up the expenses system, is the overnight revelation that Sir Ian has decided to challenge the Kelly recommendations. Sir Christopher Kelly’s committee reported on Wednesday with a list of recommendations for making the system more transparent and credible. The party leaders endorsed the report and asked for it to be implemented in full. The public appeared to react positively to it, and even if some MPs griped anonymously about its reommendations, most wisely accepted that it was a good piece of work that would help draw a line under this sorry affair.

Except Sir Ian has other plans and I gather has briefed some of my colleagues on what he envisages. You can read carefully worded accounts of what he has to say in the Telegraph, Guardian and Mail. It’s supposed to be hush hush apparently, but unless I’ve missed something I can’t see we should revert to the lack of transparency that allowed this scandal to develop in the first place. Specifically, Sir Ian believes he has a statutory right to conduct his own review of MPs’ pay and allowances, and intends to do so. He will have his proposals in place for the next Parliament. Apparently he doubts whether MPs can be made to hand over any capital gains or dismiss family members from the payroll. IPSA needs to be rigorously independent, but I imagine the party leaderships will be disappointed to discover that what they thought had been settled by Kelly is being reopened again.

Old New Labour habits of corruption and cronyism apparently die very hard. Utterly pathetic.

Hat tip: Prodicus

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One wonders how many of these venerable political veterans are actually going to make it to the next election, let alone keep their seats by fighting in it. Mind you, quite a few of them have been found with snouts firmly planted deep in the trough during the expenses scandal, so they’re already treading water until the arrival of the first gold-plated pension cheque that will signal the blissful, foggy forgetfulness of retirement has finally begun. And how they’ve earned it! Douglas Hogg will finally be able to build that drawbridge he’s always wanted, for instance. And Margaret Beckett won’t have to pretend her main residence is a caravan for tax (evasion) reasons any more (even though it is).

Groovy. The one I’m most impressed with is John Horam MP of the Labour, SDP and Conservative parties. What a tart! Now that’s a career politician. We shall never see his like again. Er…

PS: The YouTube channel from which this is nicked is one of my favourite nostalgia wells. You can find it here.

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This is what I call top-class political journalism. Clear, cogent, cohesive and devastating. Another journalist seems to have finally understood the true scale of the damage set to be inflicted upon Brown and Labour by a country that has, quite simply, had a bellyful of them. It’s worth the read…

They have no idea what is in store for them. Not really. When Labour convenes in Manchester for its annual gathering next September, its members will look back on this week’s conference in Brighton as another era, another country, another world. Gordon Brown will be gone, David Cameron will be in No 10, and a new Opposition leader will be telling his or her flock not to despair – or, more accurately, to stop despairing. Factionalism, introspection, recrimination: these will be the hallmarks of the wrecked movement that once carried all before it as New Labour.

But that moment lies ahead. For now, the governing party is too busy ensuring that it will lose the general election to think of what life will actually be like once defeat is in the bag. Charles Clarke pops up to perform his constitutional role as the man who urges Gordon to go, for health reasons or something similar. Baroness Scotland, the Attorney General, is fined £5,000 for employing a Tongan housekeeper illegally – with the magnificent twist that she is in breach of a law she herself steered through Parliament. Baroness Vadera, one of Gordon’s closest advisers, quits as a minister. Gordon himself, apparently shunned repeatedly by the President, is initially reduced to meeting Barack Obama in a New York kitchen, thus bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase “kitchen cabinet”. The polls strike hammer blow after hammer blow to Labour’s morale. David Cameron may not have “sealed the deal” with the public, but Gordon Brown most certainly has.

The entirely predictable corollary of these pre-conference fiascos is epically unsubtle positioning by the principal leadership contenders. Alan Johnson, whose false modesty is now starting to grate, admits that he’s “not willing to rule myself out for all eventualities in the future”. I’ll bet he isn’t. In a Guardian profile yesterday, Ed Balls was reported to have mumbled to a seven-year-old who asked “if he wants to be prime minister… that he would, if asked, adding that someone has to do the job”. Again: you don’t say, Ed.

Meanwhile, in New York, the other Ed (Miliband) told Mary Riddell in The Daily Telegraph yesterday that “I just think for me to start speculating about [the leadership] is a distraction and a bit presumptuous.” Another big fat “yes”! Pressed on rumours that the PM might stand down before the election, the best Miliband could muster was: “I don’t think that’s going to happen. I don’t think it would be right. Honestly.” Not exactly a passionate oath of loyalty, is it? If I were Gordon reading that, I would mutter “Et tu, Ed?” into my porridge. Or perhaps just hurl the porridge against the wall, as seems to be the Prime Minister’s preferred method of expressing mild irritation these days.

Mr Miliband’s pre-conference mantra is that “there’s no future for Labour in not being a party of the middle classes”. This is true – indeed, it is obvious to the point of banality – but it is odd to hear Mr Miliband of all people say it, given that, for the past decade, he has been one of the most outspoken advocates of what he calls “fair taxes”. And what Mr Miliband calls “fair taxes” is what the rest of us call “being fleeced” and “having less of our income left to us by the rapacious state to spend on our families”. In his interview with The Sunday Telegraph today, Mr Brown claims that Middle Britain is top of his list: “These are the people who I identify with.” Again, could have fooled us, Gordon. If the Brownites think that they will win over the electorate by reinventing the Blairite wheel at this late stage, they are in for a shock.

As, indeed, is the whole Labour movement. The shock of defeat lies not only in the loss of power, terrible as that undoubtedly is. A party driven from office must expect a whole array of traumas, great and small. For a start, the political landscape on the morning after the election is utterly transformed, and makes all pre-electoral prophecies instantly redundant.

The sheer scale of Labour’s victory in 1997, the consequent tininess of the Conservative parliamentary party, and the absence of Michael Portillo from the Tory leadership race: none of this could have been foreseen at John Major’s final conference as leader in Bournemouth in 1996. Most Conservatives knew they were heading for defeat. But it was 22 years since the Tory party had lost an election. It had forgotten the rank smell of failure, the ashen taste in the mouth, the sudden experience of irrelevance.

Irrelevance is at the heart of it all, and it is this that should most frighten Labour as it gathers by the sea. A party in power, no matter how divided, no matter how exhausted, no matter how useless, is still interesting: its exhaustion, its infirmity, its lack of trajectory are important because they affect all of us as citizens. If John Prescott is rude about Harriet Harman, it is a story. If Tony Blair is reported by Adam Boulton to think that Gordon Brown is a “quitter”, that’s a story, too.

Labour has grown used to the limelight, and has forgotten that nobody has a right to the public’s attention. It is a paradox that the longer a Government lasts, even as it suffers cellular damage and approaches invalidity, the more convinced it becomes that its beliefs are obvious, that its arguments are plain common sense, that it does not have to win the battle daily. Philip Gould, Blair’s chief pollster, used to quote approvingly the belief of the US strategist Dick Morris that, in modern politics, a government needs a “daily mandate”. Plainly, Mr Brown believes no such thing. He exudes only contempt for his opponents and their policies, even though the polls suggest that Mr Cameron’s personality and proposals have achieved considerable traction with the public.

The election of a Government does not represent a collective swoon before an ideological blueprint, but something much messier and more numinous: boredom with or suspicion of the other lot, intuitive enthusiasm for what the victorious party represents. That enthusiasm is provisional, probationary, and must be renewed constantly. Labour has completely forgotten this. It believes that Britain is a Labour country suffering a temporary bout of false consciousness. In fact, the opposite is true: after three general election victories, the scales have fallen from the public’s eyes.

It will all look so different in Manchester a year hence. But let me predict this much about the week ahead at Brighton: Brown will give a decent speech, better than expected, which will include at least one killer punch (remember “no time for a novice” last year?). He will face down his internal assassins once more. The Labour Party will feel a little buoyed by its leader’s determination. Then, it will disperse, go back to its constituencies – and prepare for Opposition.

All I would add is that contained within this piece is an implicit and powerful warning – for Cameron in particular and the Conservative party at large. If you unpack that warning, it might go something like this:
1. Do not take the power you will be lent for granted (again).
2. Do not lie to the people who gave you the job. Respect them by being straight with them.
3. Treat the offices of state which you will once more occupy – and the mother of parliaments – with respectful humility.
4. Seek that “daily mandate” and put it at the centre of your political philosophy.

Democracy is a continuum. Elections are merely the legal and essential expression of the need for a healthy democracy to change direction from time to time. The coming General Election, and the democratic change of direction we all so desperately crave that it will bring, is long overdue.

If Cameron follows these principles honestly and not as some sort of publicity gimmick or disingenuous ‘triangulation’ (stifling a debate by lying about your intentions, thus elbowing out any genuine antithesis), then there might be room for a glimmer of hope to emerge that British parliamentary democracy can become healthy once more, after the severe damage that has been done to it by years and years of Labour misgovernance and dishonesty and the daily abuses by MPs of every stripe of a system of remuneration that relied on their personal integrity to function.

If Cameron does this, he will have my vote until the day one of us dies. If he doesn’t, he’ll have one term and then, well, we’ll need another “change of direction”. We’ll kick him out and continue our long, long search for a decent prime minister. (We might even give Boris a try!)

That’s the challenge for Cameron. I think he’s up to it. I hope I’m right.

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