MPs: time for jobs transparency – well, that’s if you feel like it

The Sunday Telegraph says that Theresa May’s “ethics adviser” (an oxymoron if ever there was one!) says General Election candidates should be “as open as possible” and should publish what income streams they currently have and what paid jobs and be clear about whether these would continue if they enter Parliament.

Trouble is, some of our potential MPs find it impossible to be open.

And the punishment for that? Nothing – zero – nada.

Bang go the ethics.

3 thoughts on “MPs: time for jobs transparency – well, that’s if you feel like it

  1. Hmm …

    Ethics can be used in two ways:

    1. They can be the underlying reasoning behind legislation that enforce certain ways of behaving; or

    2. They can be a personal code that individuals follow.

    What the “ethics advisors” are doing is exactly what they are supposed to do: advise. And of course, advice is by definition … um … only advisory not mandatory.

    So in the absence of 1. above, it is down to individual candidates to consider this advice – which means if it fits with their own personal ethical standards, they will take heed even though they would already be doing what is advised anyway – but of course if the advice doesn’t fit with their own ethical standards (assuming they have any that is), then they are free to ignore it and of course they will.

    In other words, there is absolutely no point in having (and presumably paying from taxpayers’ money) an “ethical advisor” whose role is to advise individuals. What is needed is an INDEPENDENT ethical tzar who has the power to bring forward legislation which would enforce ethical standards on pain of criminal prosecution, and which would make the data to prove compliance public. Then there may be a chance that MPs and prospective MPs will act ethically because they don’t want to be jailed or fined – though of course there is little evidence to suggest that this would be effective judging by the long history of abuses (parliamentary expenses, election expenses in 2015 GE and previous by-elections, etc. etc.).

    But of course, like most other Conservative actions, having an “ethical advisor” that can be ignored is the best of both worlds – you can genuinely claim that you have an advisor but you know full well that you can “carry on regardless”.

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  2. Of course, I have no idea whether Our Hugo Swine will act on this “ethical advice” or not. I can only go on his previous track record which has very few (if any) examples of his choosing an ethical path where there is a choice.

    Indeed, he has made it quite clear what his views are on MPs having second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh jobs – namely that being an MP is not a job at all, so any other jobs an MP has are in fact NOT other jobs at all – because that pre-supposes that being an MP is considered a job in the first place.

    And of course, if you see your role (as Our Hugo Swine does) as being a national one (representing the UK in e.g. supporting tourism in the Middle East) rather than a constituency one (representing tourism in your own constituency), then you are hardly going to believe that you should be accountable to your constituents about your other jobs and income streams.

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  3. I think the expression “as open as possible” speaks volumes about what an MP can get away with.
    The expression should read ” totally open”
    It’s subtleties in the English language ( particularly legally) which allow the kind of unacceptable behaviour now common in Westminster particularly, but any half decent brief could pick holes in the “meaning” of any law.
    We do have legal geniuses who could nail down law specifically, but those in power don’t and won’t use them!
    Daily, we read of MPs taking gross advantage , wherever and whenever it suits them.
    Kick them out!
    It will not do.

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