Labour launches plan to attack political corruption


If there’s one area of British life that needs reform, it’s politics.

Every day, Vox Political receives at least one comment from somebody saying that the system is corrupt and desperately needs an overhaul. Today (Tuesday, March 3), Labour is due to announce its plans for tackling this very issue.

The trouble is, of course, that many people are saying Labour is part of the problem.

The claim is that the party and its high-level members have a vested financial interest in keeping the system as it is – and the gravy train rolling along. How will Labour combat these?


There are plans to consult on new powers for the Speaker to tackle the worst and repeated instances of rowdy behaviour in the Chamber with a so-called ‘sin bin’.

Former Commons deputy speaker Nigel Evans described the idea as “rubbish”, pointing out that the speaker already has the ability to remove MPs in certain circumstances and has lots of discretion at present.

But the Speaker himself, John Bercow, has given a cautious welcome to the suggestion that MPs face a rugby-style “yellow-card” temporary ban for bad behaviour in the Chamber. Answering questions at a Hansard Society event at Westminster, Mr Bercow said: “I think there is merit in it, it’s not for me to decide, it’s for the House to decide.”

Other measures will be revealed at an event in Parliament, by Shadow Leader of the Commons Angela Eagle. They include:

  • Overhauling elections with measures including introducing votes at 16 and trialling online voting
  • Changing how Parliament works with a Prime Minister’s Questions for the public and a new process for law-making that gives people a say
  • Tackling vested interests by regulating MPs’ 2nd jobs and creating compulsory rules for lobbyists, and
  • Devolving power across the UK and replacing the Lords with a ‘Senate of the Nations and Regions’.

Some of these measures have already been trailed, like votes for 16-year-olds, public PMQs and regulation of MPs’ second jobs. One has been claimed by the Conservative Party, although Labour’s Austin Mitchell describes the plan for devolution to Greater Manchester as a “deathbed repentance by a government which had centralised continuously in a country that is over-centralised already”. He claimed that a concentration of power in London and the south-east of England “needs to be reversed so the rest of us can have a chance”.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Angela Eagle said: “The recent debate over MPs’ second jobs reminds us that so much needs to change in Westminster. When trust in politics and politicians is already at a record low, only radical reform will restore faith in our political process.

“Labour’s plan will deliver the reform our politics needs. We will reform the Commons to strengthen its ability to hold the government to account. And we will ensure our political system always puts people before rich and powerful vested interests.

“Our politics works on an adversarial system, but sometimes MPs take it too far and it turns the public off. A Labour government will consult on new powers for the Speaker to curb the worst forms of repeated barracking.”

This writer is particularly keen on online voting. It is to be hoped that the trials go well, so that this may help restore interest – and confidence – in democracy.

Does it go far enough? Undoubtedly people will say it does not – but at least, it seems, Labour will do something to arrest the corruption that seems to have seeped into the very bones of the Palace of Westminster (the building will be unusable within 20 years, it seems, unless expensive restoration work is undertaken).

What would you do?

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  1. The Infamous Culex March 3, 2015 at 6:50 am - Reply

    I am not convinced that laws should be made by direct involvement of the public, as that could lead to an even more amenocratic kakistocracy – changing according to the prevailing wind – than the system we have now. Every time a child is murdered, the public would want the death penalty to be reinstated; every time someone has been shewn to have been wrongly convicted of murder, support for the death penalty drops..

    Nor do I believe that it would be at all wise to meddle further with the House of Lords, if that place is to remain a credible and effective reviewing chamber wherein the changing whims of the Commons may be transformed into sensible laws or, on occasions, rejected totally. Continuity is needed, which will not be achieved if the ‘Senate’ is elected in much the same way that the populace currently elects its representatives.

  2. M de Mowbray March 3, 2015 at 8:05 am - Reply

    David Camoron, before becoming PM, said that Lobbying was the biggest problem in our democracy and that he was determined to take action. He did, he increased the Tory Party’s income from it. Seeing how Camoron behaves at PM’sQs is sickening and enough to put anyone off politics: refusing to answer questions, throwing mud, insults and ridicule at questioners, and basically behaving like the dim, spoilt, hectoring, arrogant, bullying PR-obsessed brat that he is. All PMs and MPs do a bit of this, but he has taken it to new levels of repulsiveness. For Parliamentary Democracy to work it HAS to clean up its public face. Lobbying and Vested Interests, such as 2nd career, and “Revolving Door Career Opportunities must be eliminated or regulated. Parliament must be made to work for Britain, not for MegaMulti-National

  3. Mr.Angry March 3, 2015 at 8:35 am - Reply

    I am all for the electorate having the ability to dismiss an MP for wrongdoing and they should not have other interests outside of parliament. They have a job to do paid by the electorate and that’s it. If they don’t like it don’t take the responsibility on in the first place.

    Re expenses they without doubt require reform and should be limited. Why they can claim for second homes is a disgrace, why not allocate a block of apartments near to Westminster and provide a transport service to get them back and to, it’s only common sense. The likes of Pickles costing £110K + a year for a private chauffeur driven car is extortion. They obviously have never ran a business being cost effective is outside their remit.

    • joanna may March 4, 2015 at 3:38 am - Reply

      Pickles needs to walk some of his gross obesity off!!

  4. lawrencesroberts March 3, 2015 at 8:46 am - Reply

    If The Labour Party censured its own miscreants and stood down suspects then the problem would be solved.

    • Mike Sivier March 3, 2015 at 11:08 am - Reply

      That’s very funny.

  5. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl) March 3, 2015 at 9:58 am - Reply

    There are many current MPs who do an excellent job but I feel that such a position should only be held by those who are devoted to such work and who have no other personal financial interests and that future MPs should be paid a higher salary than at present to attract those who are willing to undergo proper investigation as to their potential for such posts. That does not mean that they need any special technical qualifications other than an aptitude for management for the benefit of all.

    • Mike Sivier March 3, 2015 at 11:09 am - Reply

      I honestly don’t understand why they need to be paid so much.

      • Michele Witchy Eve March 5, 2015 at 7:41 am - Reply

        Wage envy? How many politicians look at the pay of, say, those running universities on salaries of between £200,000 and £600,000 per year as recently reported somewhere in the press.

  6. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl) March 3, 2015 at 10:11 am - Reply

    I take this opportunity to answer your question Mike and also I hope you will not mind my adding a few suggestions for Labour:

    There are many current MPs who do an excellent job but I feel that such a position should only be held by those who are devoted to such work and who have no other personal financial interests and that future MPs should be paid a higher salary than at present to attract those who are willing to undergo proper investigation as to their potential for such posts. That does not mean that they need any special technical qualifications other than an aptitude for management for the benefit of all.


    All NHS, Railways, Water Services, Energy Services, i.e., all Public Utilities must be returned to public ownership.

    The employees of these services must be paid a good salary, and the profits ploughed back into maintenance improvement and salaries. The higher salaries paid to the employees will not only benefit those employees but ensure that the tax on their salaries is used for the betterment of the public as a whole rather than as profits for the few. (See my note below on DWP)

    Private enterprises must also be encouraged and taxed fairly and no enterprise of any sort should be allowed to reduce or escape taxation through any means. All foreign companies operating in the UK should pay tax in the UK.

    The DWP should be entirely overhauled and rearranged so that people in need of its services are treated with respect and dignity. The Labour party must ensure that proper help, both financial and physical, is available to better the lives of the sick, mentally ill and their carers, as well as those unemployed through no fault of their own. In this respect the profits from Nationalised industries, together with those which have been handed back to private ownership, will do much to assist the finances needed to give proper attention to those in need, as well as to the general running of the country.

    Private landlords should be encouraged but controlled so that their rents reflect the true value rather than exploitation of tenants who are not being given any favours but quite the reverse as they are the customers without whom the landlords would have to seek alternative engagements!

    • Mike Sivier March 3, 2015 at 11:12 am - Reply

      Good ideas, I’m sure. I’m not convinced that a debate on reforming the behaviour of politicians is exactly the right place for them, but they’re still worth having somewhere.

    • Mr.Angry March 6, 2015 at 9:56 am - Reply

      Well said Rupert, agree entirely, but will this ever happen? Common sense is outside most MPs’ remit. I do not know of any with a sound business acumen other than banking.

      They need educating as to what the country’s needs really are and paramount in creating employment, proper skilled jobs which will return the taxes needed for other public services.

      They have to restructure the banks, to much wrongdoing has gone on for to long and nothing is ever done about it.

      The present shower have only self interest at heart; unforgivable.

  7. daijohn March 3, 2015 at 10:56 am - Reply

    It might be a good idea if the TV cameras could zoom in on those MPs who choose to act like childish idiots or thugs during PMQs – a sort of ‘show and shame’

    • Mike Sivier March 3, 2015 at 11:15 am - Reply

      It would be, but the BBC – running the cameras – always seems to shy away from that.

      • Jonathan Wilson March 3, 2015 at 12:26 pm - Reply

        I seem to recall that there were many conditions imposed for the rights to show parliament. Among them was no live panning and no zooming, cameras were to be “fixed/static” and close ups only allowed for primary speakers (ie the person talking in debates etc. not people being rowdy in the background.) and while the cameras can move and zoom in on a person speaking, or about to, the feed can only go live once it becomes static.

  8. Andy C March 3, 2015 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    re: your point about online voting

    the idea of it sounds excellent and trully democratic…. but …. the problem with online voting is that any links between the voters pc and the server that records the vote can be intercepted and in turn interrupted, look at all the problems involving GCHQ breaking and reading encrypted data, the internet is not a secure system,

    look at the problems that have happened with subversion of voting machines in the USA yet they too are still being used – Rep. Tom Feeney (Fmr. Speaker of The House in Florida) employed this man from Oviedo, FL to rig elections and flip them 51% to 49%. Exit polling data was proven to be significantly different than the published results. Rep. Feeney was also the lobbyist for Yang Enterprises, the company who delivered the program. (i apologise for the channel the link sends you too as it’s an American Libertarian channel with all the problems that that entails) –

    Unfortunately the only truly transparent system is physically voting on voting cards even with all the problems that that entails, because there is a paper trail that can be investigated forensically and analytically. It’s a bugger but that’s how it is

    • Mike Sivier March 3, 2015 at 1:01 pm - Reply

      What about the fuss kicked up by the Scottish nationalists over the referendum vote last September? They said that vote was rigged, and it was a simple ‘X’ on a card vote.

      • jaypot2012 March 3, 2015 at 1:48 pm - Reply

        The SNP would help Labour, and if it came to that they would also push Labour to the left instead of it being more right wing.
        I believe the vote was rigged as do many thousands of us, but we can’t prove it, just like we can’t prove that God actually exists.

        • Mike Sivier March 3, 2015 at 2:41 pm - Reply

          The SNP would demand a price for any help they gave, weakening the nation and ultimately leading to the dissolution of the United Kingdom – a result that the majority of people in Scotland itself have said they don’t want.
          It’s too high a price to pay. The majority of voters in this country don’t want it and the SNP is damaging the possibility of removing the Tories from office by pushing on with these claims.

      • Joan Edington March 3, 2015 at 2:31 pm - Reply

        The complaints up here were not about card voting per se. It was more about the fact that ballot boxes were opened between the polling stations and the counts in some cases. I don’t believe that, even if I might view these boxes with suspicion, the result was affected.

        Another complaint was that a Tory had looked at the results of postal votes before polling day.

        There has been much discussion about the voting procedure since them but I doubt if many would like online voting, with all its issues. In particular, government web sites aren’t exactly renowned for their security.

        One idea mooted has been that all paper ballots should be counted in the polling stations, boxes being properly scrutinised from the closing to opening for the count. Postal votes should not be available for anyone outwith the electoral process, especially not party members.

  9. Joy Morby March 3, 2015 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    your headline states “labour launches plan to attack corruption”.Then proceed to list what they will attempt.No mention of dealing with corruption.What about when MP’s say they can “help” for a fee, and tax evasion as well as extra jobs. All 3 main parties are guilty of this

    • Mike Sivier March 3, 2015 at 9:56 pm - Reply

      The rules on second jobs deal with corruption; so do the compulsory rules for lobbyists and the law-making changes. Corruption is a major reason for these planned political reforms, so I don’t think I was wrong to include it in the headline.

  10. Guy Ropes March 4, 2015 at 1:48 am - Reply

    It would be informative to learn what in fact you consider “corruption” to be and then a reasoned discussion might be worthwhile. Joy Morby has come closest to addressing the problem. A 2nd job is not corruption. Telling lies for advantage, usually for self or friends – sometimes for Party – is corruption. Might I direct you to the histories of Ian Puddick and Michael Doherty (for starters) to learn what corruption is. Appreciate the corruption in their circumstances and realise that simply saying you’re going to do something about it won’t pass muster. Have a look at the websites North Yorks Enquirer and Real-Whitby. One gives you the Transparency International definition of corruption as they understand it. Unfortunately the judicial system in this Country is beyond redemption and if you can’t trust the Judges, then no one has a hope. Let’s talk again in 5 years time: nothing will have changed.

    • Mike Sivier March 4, 2015 at 11:17 am - Reply

      Labour wants to avoid the possibility of corruption, therefore second-job directorships and consultancies have to go. It’s very simple because it needs to be, in order to allow no misinterpretation.

      You write, “simply saying you’re going to do something about it won’t pass muster” as if you think Labour can do anything else at the moment. Labour MPs are already banned from taking these jobs from the date of the general election onwards, so Labour has already done what it can in its own ranks. The wider measure requires Labour to have a Parliamentary majority. If you weren’t aware of that, you really should not be trying to argue about this.

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