This morning I finished reading Parliament Ltd by Martin Williams, albeit earlier than I expected due to the over 60 pages of endnotes (which is only indicative of how well researched the book is). I just wanted to share a few thoughts and encourage you to read it.
Parliament Ltd gives an insight into the very essence of our democracy and, at its core, attempts to answer the question: who do our politicians work for? Williams covers – in great depth – many aspects of our politicians’ lives, such as expenses, moonlighting, lobbying, corruption and the inequalities between many of them and their own employees. This is not just a problem found in one political party, but rather is entrenched into the entire political establishment.
My initial thoughts, after having read the book, were of shock and astonishment that the sorts of things that Williams outlines are still happening. Allow me to explain. Williams provides countless examples of MPs and Peers doing things that most people would perceive as either dishonest, greedy or outrageous. Whether it be the MP who supported and profited from the Iraq War, the MP who used their knowledge of parliament to work for a company that they had previously lobbied for or the Peers who claim large amounts of the tax payers money to supplement their lavish lifestyles and can’t even be bothered to vote or speak in the Lords, the book uncovers much that many politicians would probably rather we didn’t know.
I believe that there are many politicians that are loyal to their constituents and put them above themselves (the Lib Dem’s Norman Lamb, being an example of a hardworking and selfless local MP, immediately springs to mind), but there is certainly a subset of our political class that aren’t in it to benefit the majority – which has been a contributing factor to the apathy some feel towards politics. In Chapter 20, Williams notes some of the words that a sixth form class, at his old school, used to describe their perceptions of MPs. Let’s just say they weren’t very flattering. Arguably one of the reasons for Labour’s increase in seats and votes in the 2017 General Election, was the honesty and trustworthiness that many believed Corbyn had – even if he would not have been my own choice, his genuine nature is undeniable.
In the final few pages Williams calls the reader to spend just half an hour looking into their MP’s finances. I thought I’d take him up on his offer and have a quick look into those of my own MP, Labour’s Clive Lewis. I would like to begin by saying that Lewis’ expenses claims seem reasonable, when he’s had to stay in a hotel it was a Premier Inn and he only ever travels in standard class – for instance. I did, however, notice a few small things. Firstly, his accommodation costs rose significantly in the summer of 2016; whilst his accommodation used to cost £975 (per month), it has gone up to £1,700. Secondly, there are a few claims which do make it seem as though he’s trying to get as much as possible in expenses, such as a shorthand notepad for £1.49 and a plastic wallet for the same price. To me, these seem relatively minute, however, in comparison to many of the stories Williams tells in his book.
If you click here you can find the expenses claims of your own MP.
I highly recommend reading Parliament Ltd, which you can buy on Amazon. Next I’m going to read Inside Story by Philip Webster, so I’ll hopefully get round to doing a similar sort of post on that at some point.
This post was not sponsored.