I have absolutely no sympathy for Chris Huhne, who must quit the House of Commons after admitting he perverted the course of justice to dodge a speeding penalty.
After two years spent denying that he had offloaded the speeding fine onto his former wife, Huhne changed his plea to ‘guilty’ on the very day his case was to go to court.
That indicates, to me, that he knew he was guilty from the get-go, but was determined to hang on to whatever political influence he had until the bitter end – which came yesterday. (Monday)
Considering he was once a candidate to be leader of the Liberal Democrats, this influence was considerable – and it is therefore even more regrettable that he was not prepared to make the proper choice at the appropriate time.
His actions prove that even those who reach the greatest heights of political office are capable of lowering themselves to the utmost depths of debasement in the name of continued power.
Bear it in mind that he had been trying to have the case thrown out of court for abuse of process, and it was only after this attempt failed that he finally threw in the towel and changed his plea. He didn’t go willingly, even though he knew he was a criminal.
A criminal. Holding one of the highest offices in the land. Guilty of perverting the course of justice.
That, in itself, is deeply disturbing. This is a Parliamentarian who not only committed a crime but also tried to cover it up for as long as humanly possible.
How many other members of the Coalition government have similar skeletons in their closets, that they want to keep out of the public arena? How many members of Parliament of any political persuasion, for that matter?
The only ray of light in this whole dismal affair, in my opinion, is that Huhne’s guilt does not concern decisions he took as Energy Secretary.
Gideon George Osborne used taxpayers’ money to make a huge profit on the Cheshire farmhouse for which – along with two pieces of land which had no connection with his duties as an MP – he claimed Parliamentary expenses.
And Liam Fox resigned as Defence Secretary after Adam Werrity, who was Best Man at his wedding, turned up at 57 per cent of his ministerial engagements, claiming to be his ‘advisor’. Dr Fox said there was no wrong-doing but, if this was the case, why did he leave?
And Andrew Lansley took £21,000 from Care UK’s boss, before becoming Health Secretary and implementing changes to the NHS which, I’m sure, have brought lucrative contracts to that company.
So that’s four cabinet members whose behaviour is questionable, and we haven’t even discussed David Cameron – the Prime Minister – and his familiarity with the world of tax avoidance yet!
They were all members of the government that, according to the Coalition Agreement, “believes that we need to throw open the doors of public bodies, to enable the public to hold politicians and public bodies to account”.
You’ll note that it has yet to enact a significant part of the Conservative Manifesto 2010, that would “introduce a power of ‘recall’ to allow electors to kick out MPs, a power that will be triggered by proven serious wrongdoing”.
If they won’t clean up their house willingly, we have to do it for them.
That’s why I introduced my e-petition to the government’s website, calling for preventative measures to ensure members of Parliament cannot be tempted into corruption – the ‘Clean The House’ petition.
It’s doing quite well, too. But it could do better.
If you believe that politics needs to be free of corruption – and that it needs to be seen to be free of it – please sign the petition if you haven’t already.
And tell your friends about it – spread the word!