Last night in the UK, intelligence and security committee chair Malcom Rifkind stepped down, and announced that he would be leaving Parliament at the upcoming election. Why? Because along with Labour's Jack Straw, he'd been caught on video offering to use his Parliamentary influence in exchange for cash (Straw has yet to resign. The shameless war criminal is also shameless about corruption). He's not the first British MP to be caught this way, and sadly he won't be the last. Why? Because as the LibDems' Julian Huppert points out, British MPs are effectively insulated from their constituents, to the extent that they no longer feel any accountability towards them:
At the crux of this failure is our electoral system. Safe seats generate complacency. They give many MPs the opportunity to sit back, knowing they’ll get re-elected again and again. This was captured crudely by a Labour MP recently: even if “a raving alcoholic paedophile” were selected as a candidate, he said, his seat would still be kept.
And it is often in safe seats where some MPs find they have enough time to take on two jobs. Suddenly they believe they don’t need to respond to casework or do the work in parliament. They are above all that – and why shouldn’t they earn £5,000 a day at the end of their careers?
The problem is far starker when we have MPs working for private interests. We just can’t allow members to work part time for a consultancy, part time in parliament. That’s plain wrong. The inevitable result is that organisations will exert unacceptable influence on parliament.
Besides the obvious requirement of electoral reform, his solution is to ban MPs from holding second jobs except in exceptional circumstances (he uses the example of medical doctors needing to stay current), preventing them from laundering cash-for-access deals through outside employment. Its a good idea. Sadly, I can't imagine Britain's corrupt MPs ever voting for it. Too many of them have their noses in the trough, or hope to. Until there is electoral reform, the only way Britain's democracy can be reformed is to bulldoze Westminster and all its corrupt little pigs into the Thames.