I wasn’t going to blog about the continuing scandal over MPs’ expenses that has been raging for a couple of weeks now.
However, when I was in Dundee the other day for work, I was stopped in the street by an Evening Telegraph journalist. She asked my views about a proposal to allow for petitioners to recall their local MP and make them re-stand in a by-election. Inspired by the expenses furore the plan was, she explained, an opportunity to hold MPs to account in between terms.
I gave her my views, and I may as well share them here.
I told her I didn’t think it was necessary. Petitions, I said, could be used in partisan ways, would create a form of mob rule, would lead to single-issue by-elections that didn’t judge the incumbent on their whole record, and if MPs were suitably corrupt then legal or party sanction should be enough; and if it was a lesser issue than that then it can wait until the next election.
“Excellent,” she said, “I’m so glad to hear you say that. Everyone’s been all in favour of it and it’s nice to get a balance. I’m dead against it, but of course I have to be impartial.”
We chatted a bit longer and I gave her a few more pearls of wisdom which she eagerly scribbled in her pad, in what was either shorthand or terrible handwriting. She took my name, and then asked if she could take my photo.
I declined, explaining I wasn’t from Dundee. She said she could only use my quotes if I had my photo in, but I politely insisted I didn’t think it right to have a non-Dundonian as part of the feature. She accepted this and went off to find other prey.
I didn’t, of course, give the real reason for not wanting my photo taken: I was worried that people might think I was from Dundee.
Now that would be a real scandal.