The Extent Of The Expenses Fallout

It is a story that has ‘shaken Westminster to its foundations’ and which continues to lead most news bulletins and broadsheet front pages.

Even after The Daily Telegraph finishes publishing its sensational headlines and salacious details of the British MP expenses scandal, there is no doubt that the story will keep running and running.

Voters are angry.

The centre of Britain’s governmental and ruling system, in a democracy where everyone is supposedly equal, is failing.  It is rotten to the core.  How can it advise other external agencies to act and how can it criticise their policies when its own perilous foundations have been exposed and ridiculed in full view of the public? 

Even worse in the short term, however, is the fact that UK-wide European and English local elections are imminent, due to take place next week.

The conventional wisdom is that smaller parties not represented at Westminster – and so untouched by this week’s stories – might benefit, to the detriment of the major parties that have been so heavily featured in negative press in recent days.

A YouGov poll suggests that the UK Independence Party’s support in the European poll stands at 15%, only five percentage points short of Labour’s standing.

Nevertheless this is just data from one short-term poll.  More information will be needed to come draw firm and long-lasting conclusions.  Still, there is little doubt that the expenses row will have a dramatic impact on the political futures not just of individual MPs but also their parties as a whole.

Yet is this just another case of media over-exposure and overreaction?  Many commentators, while agreeing that this latest slew of scandalous activities needs to be addressed, claim that one should stop the growing obsession with individual lives and look at the bigger picture. 

Voters, newspapers, television and radio programmes and political analysts should concern themselves primarily with the manner in which politicians conduct their true job – that is, looking after the public interest in terms of health, education and crime.

While many voters say that they feel angry and betrayed by their representatives, the majority echo the sentiment that the expenses story is purely a journalistic made-up frenzy and not a big deal in the long term. 

It is certain that this latest story is yet another blow to the credibility of MPs and their profession.  Nonetheless it should not cause people to lose faith in politics and to be put off voting.  We do not vote for the political system – we vote for those individuals that we believe will do what is right for the nation – and in reality that is all that matters.

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