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Year 2009 No. 33, March 18, 2009 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

The Answer to the Expenses Scandal Is to Fight for Democratic Renewal with the Election of Worker Politicians

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The Answer to the Expenses Scandal Is to Fight for Democratic Renewal with the Election of Worker Politicians

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The Answer to the Expenses Scandal Is to Fight for Democratic Renewal with the Election of Worker Politicians

The scandal over MPs’ fraudulent expenses claims has underlined the rotten and archaic nature of parliamentary democracy, and has contributed to the crisis of a system whereby MPs in general are being seen to have failed to represent the electorate. At the same time, a kind of feeding frenzy is being whipped up by the monopoly media in order to denigrate politicians as a whole and raise the spectre of "fringe parties" and the danger of "extremists", and consolidate the parties in power.

What must be grasped is that this scandal is being fanned in a period which is fraught with the objective dangers of fascism and war, and conditions are being prepared to say that big government is the answer, and a new broom is required to ensure that ordinary people are kept even further away from decision-making. It is part of the scenario of the state to accelerate changes which do not favour the people’s interests, and to suggest that the people’s anger at their disempowerment should not be channelled into taking up their own agenda, but be directed against "corruption".

The issue is how to change the situation in a manner which favours the people, to focus on the fact that the system of representative democracy as it exists is the essence of fraud and corruption and that the system which brings establishment parties to power has had its day and must go.

In other words, the issue for the working class and people is to discuss that they must take up the aim of democratic renewal and how to do so, in order to eliminate abuse of power and class privilege and to ensure the well-being of all. It is this principle of democracy which is being abused first and foremost. This scandal is taking place at a time when parliament is being used to ensure that the rich are being paid on a vast scale. Decisions are being made and have been made which provide billions of pounds to the banks, which facts show have done nothing to resolve the financial and economic crisis. More money is being printed to buy government debt whose aim is to prop up these owners of monopoly capital. Unless the aspirations of the political delegates of the people is to serve the people’s needs and fulfil their claims on society, rather than to take up politics as a "career" and to become part of a system whose aim is to legislate programmes to pay the rich, then the crisis of representative democracy will deepen.

The issue becomes how to democratise the political process and institutions, so it is not the major parliamentary parties which come to power and disenfranchise the people. One thing that the expenses scandal is showing is not only that the scandal runs through all of them, but that the parliamentary system itself has promoted and encouraged such practices.

The scandal is bringing to the fore the crying need for worker politicians, and that therein lies the way forward and can provide the alternative to the degeneracy of parliamentary democracy. It is instructive, for example, that the Committee on Standards in Public Life was established in 1994 to deal with concerns about unethical conduct amongst MPs, including accepting financial incentives for tabling parliamentary questions, and issues over procedures for appointments to public bodies. It is now conducting an inquiry into MPs’ expenses, but it is clear that in the past 15 years, the problems of "standards in public life" have intensified. The fact also that the Electoral Commission was set up largely to deal with underhand financing of political parties in power has also failed to resolve this issue, despite the rules and regulations which require annual reports and accounts by registered political parties.

The bottom line is that the establishment parties are engaged in fraud on a continuous basis. They cannot even be called genuine political parties in which the MPs engage in formulating their political policies, let alone their members or the electorate as a whole. They operate on the basis of secret agendas, of fraudulent charades in parliament, of politics on the basis of personalities, and so on. And the crisis of representative democracy is such that even the role of an impartial speaker who defends the rights of parliament and calls MPs to account is seriously in question.

Parliament still takes the form of a medieval absolutism with the monarch in parliament, the royal prerogative resting with cabinet government, the parties not being political but representing competing interests of the rich and of big business, and the MPs having only the role to fit into these archaic and out of place arrangements. In fact, it can be said that the present electoral system of bringing political parties to power is itself a fraud perpetrated against the electorate.

To end the stranglehold of these rotten forces on the political system, it is necessary for the working class and people to fight for political renewal with the election of worker politicians. The crisis of representative democracy can only begin to be resolved when workers themselves actually put themselves in Parliament, where they can hold the government to account. Then the workers can begin to be effective in ending the corruption which is woven into the fabric of the system and take the path of forming a socially responsible government with MPs whose interests are at one with their peers, and who can be recalled if they are not.

What governs the present electoral arrangements is an hysterical vying for seats and power in order to serve the interests of the rich and powerful. The present expenses scandal is revealing just how entrenched in such a system are narrow private and financial interests. This system, these political institutions and processes are deeply inimical to the public good.

The role of political parties as gatekeepers of power for a privileged elite must be forcefully challenged. It is the electorate who must have the power to set the agenda, not a chosen few in political parties that have no responsibility to maintain a connection with the electorate and whose peers are not the working people, youth or other sections of the electorate but the barons of capital. Such a system will give rise to corruption, no matter what new rules and regulations are formulated to combat it. The way forward is to intensify the movement for the working class and people to put forward their peers as candidates in elections, beginning from the present.

No election without selection!

Stop paying the rich!

No to fascism and war!

End the crisis by electing worker politicians!

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