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Don't know if you've seen this - British Politics in turmoil

by MarkFlax Forum moderator / May 16, 2009 1:32 AM PDT

Over the last few weeks, rumors have been mounting about a number of questionable claims for expenses by British MP's, which has brought into question the integrity of nearly every MP currently elected to Parliament.

During the last week the Daily Telegraph has printed revelations each day about groups of MPs and their expenses claims over the last few years. They do not say how they came upon the information, but that information will be available generally soon under the UK's version of the Freedom of Information Act. MPs' whose constituencies are outside London are entitled to claim for expenses for 2nd accommodation in London while they attend the House of Commons, but there are only guidelines as to what such expenses should cover.

Some examples of what MPs have claimed for;

1] Former environment minister claimed

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"Monster Raving Looney Party"

wasn't that "Screaming" Lord Sutch? great character 'in concert' Happy


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poor fella', comitted suicide
by jonah jones / May 16, 2009 4:52 AM PDT
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Yep, Screaming Lord Sutch
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / May 16, 2009 6:48 AM PDT

He was a failed pop star in the 60's.

I had forgotten that he had killed himself, and my memory also plays tricks with time. I thought the Monster Raving Looney Party had been around since the 60's, but WIki says it was formed in 1983.

A sad person I always thought.


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Now hold on here

Doesn't it look like we've got a couple of moderators engaged in a political discussion? And why are Military Police (MPs) being elected to Parliament? Justadumbamerican here. Happy

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by EdHannigan / May 16, 2009 5:46 AM PDT
In reply to: Now hold on here

MP = Member of Parliament.

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You may be right.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / May 16, 2009 6:49 AM PDT
In reply to: Now hold on here

If the other Mods here consider this to be political, then I accept that. But for my part I posted it as 'news'.


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I really don't care what gets posted
by Steven Haninger / May 16, 2009 8:12 AM PDT
In reply to: You may be right.

but I hate to see a good informative discussion go south. My guess is that's why the forum rule...lax as it sometimes is. I was trying to find humor and not a reason to criticize. It was the MP reference that I caught first. I do think another less regulated rule, however, is that using a foreign language requires a translation. Happy

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I did catch your drift, and even knew that YOU knew
by drpruner / May 16, 2009 4:14 PM PDT

what MP means. Happy
In reality, it seems to me not so much political as part of the annals of psychiatry or something. It reminds me of what Douglas Adams (fine name, that) called "mind-bogglingly stupid"- in this case, the ravenous beasts of Westminster.

Mark's a Mod; he can translate my "butcher's".

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I have taken a butcher's occasionally.
by drpruner / May 16, 2009 4:03 PM PDT

I'm surprised by what I see as a large number of husband-and-wife MP couples. Is it really so common over there? It comes up because often (I think) he claimed the London luxury flat as their first home, while she claimed the Brighton villa. Not just allowable maintenance was involved; "travel expenses" are often considerable, as you infer.

One story noted that two peers (life peers, I suppose) were caught in blatant cash-for-votes schemes. I guess that's very rare even in these corrupt times. I also noted the moat story; no doubt that will raise a chuckle among SE's US readers. However, I gather that the usual scams were much more mundane and blatant.

Blair, Brown, and Straw are on the link's list, as well as a Queen's Counsel and one Lord.

Other comments I saw, from no particular source, were MPs who are glad to have been forced out (why, then, did they run?), and an MP's non-MP wife who says hers is a thankless position in modern Britain.

And, under the heading of Responsible Journalism, one might note (mightn't one) that this thrashing of government is being done by what is nominally the government's press organ- the Beeb.

Can't find it now, but one page had a link to the story of a woman who say she's the one who inserted the first rake in the muck, so to speak. I also recall seeing something about a vote taken not long ago to make these expenses stand apart from the tax laws. That keeps these MPs out of tax illegality, which would be much more serious. (Would have kept Al Capone out of quod, in fact. Happy )

You may be right about the Monsters' day having come.

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Looking around some more, I find this
by drpruner / May 16, 2009 4:43 PM PDT

where the BBC gives credit to the Daily Telegraph for the initial break.
[quote]"This has been a triumph of old media skills in a convergent multimedia world. [Political blogger] Guido Fawkes is good, but deciphering and recounting such a mass of detail demands resources that lone bloggers are unlikely to deploy."[/quote]

Meaning, I guess, that the expected demise of corporate journalism may indeed be bad for the survival of the Western world. Glad it's not my problem. Happy

BTW the Telegraph has benefited financially as well.

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Isn't language strange?
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / May 16, 2009 7:10 PM PDT

Yep I know what you mean by 'butchers', as in, "I had a butchers at that'. Weird, where on earth did that come from?

I wonder if there are any married couple MP's where one supports Labour and the other supports Conservative? I bet that would be a happy household. (Just a note, Labour, UK name for the Labour party, so I don't use the US version, 'Labor').

I'm not sure where all this is going, but we are all-consumed by these revelations at the moment.

These expenses claim abuse stories have been slipping through for some months now, but the Daily Telegraph has certainly scooped the news with the whole records. It has done them no harm whatsoever.


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I had a butchers at that
by jonah jones / May 16, 2009 8:30 PM PDT

condensed rhyming slang again

butchers=butchers hook=look

a classic example is:

Jacob's=Jacob's Cream Crackers=knackers' which is slang for testicles


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Ahh of course.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / May 16, 2009 8:51 PM PDT

Cockney rhyming slang. I should have remembered.


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More common is the term Cream Crackered which means
by Ziks511 / May 19, 2009 6:52 PM PDT

knackered which means tired, exhausted. How knackers got to mean testicles, and the man who puts down unwanted animals and takes them away, and in its past tense verbal form (knackered) means tired. I haven't a clew (an old fashioned spelling, only about 60 years out of date, for clue. Of course they still put Tyres on cars and trucks. Contemporaneous with clew is shew for show as in "Shew us yer Jacob"s." but it was pronounced "show" and not like Ed Sullivan's "a really big shew for you tonight."



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Also used for the same idea is the word shufti, which is
by Ziks511 / May 19, 2009 7:13 PM PDT

Hindustani for to have a look. It even appears in J.K.Rowling's series on Harry Potter, though she or the publisher misspelt it the first time.

The Beyond the Fringe routine Aftermyth of War from about 1960 or 15 years after the end of WW2 has a Squadron Leader asking one of his pilots "War's a psychological thing Perkins. You know how 10 men often play better than 11 (British Rugby)", 'Yes sir', "We're asking you to be that one man. Pop in a crate Perkins", 'Yes, sir', "Hop over to Bremen", 'Right', "Take a shufti", 'Sir', "Don't come back. (Pause) We need a futile gesture at this point, it'll raise the whole tone of the war."


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I had to ask, the first time I saw it in a BBC
by drpruner / May 18, 2009 3:20 AM PDT

forum. Rhyming slang: "Butcher's hook, that's a look." Like "Trouble and strife, that's me wife."

Can't be of much help to England right now. These people are in charge of riding herd on corrupt businessmen? Be afraid ...

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Speaker steps down.
by drpruner / May 19, 2009 12:35 PM PDT
This would be very serious in the US; Speaker is just after the VP in succession, I think. And of course is powerful in his [her] party, which is the majority. In your country, of course, after Her Royal Highness is Charles, and then ... Sophie ?? Happy

Something I picked up along the way: Tories claim their shadow Cabinet has more women ministers than [liberal, bleeding heart, women's-rights-hugging] Labour. Just thought that was interesting.
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First time in 300 years
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / May 19, 2009 8:43 PM PDT
In reply to: Speaker steps down.

that a Speaker has been {persuaded} to go.

The post is akin to the US Speaker, but not as powerful I would say. He/she does not have the power to govern the country but his duty is to govern the House of Commons, and he can sanction and remove MPs from the house and impose penalties. The job is more a procedures post.

The royal family don't govern of course. The Queen is the head of state but is only a figurehead. She can dissolve the serving government, but other than that she has little influence over political matters.

The Queen, Charles, William, Harry, then..... There was an attempt earlier this year to change the constitution to remove the automatic right of the oldest male off-spring to be heir to the throne at the exclusion of any older female off-spring. Sadly that motion failed. Otherwise we could have had a Queen Anne as the next head of state.


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So your Speaker isn't in line for PM; I knew that it's a
by drpruner / May 19, 2009 9:57 PM PDT

constitutional monarchy over there.

I think most of the US Speaker's power comes from the control over the agenda during Congressional sessions; that can be considerable. Probably yours exercises some clout that way, too. Of course, there will be a new Speaker of the same party.

Shakespeare makes an issue of female heirs in one of the history plays. The "Salic Law" is mentioned, which (I think) allowed queens in France, but was not adopted in England. I guess that's still in force, so that it takes quite a succession of events to seat a Queen. (Good thing that His Royal Highness and Her ... have the same initials- saves re-chiseling the facades of lots of buildings. Happy )

And, of course, I was kidding about Sophie. I understand she's viewed as somewhat of a loose cannon.

300 years? That's significant, given some of the periods of turnmoil in that time. (Including the loss of the colonies.)

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You already have a Queen....
by EdHannigan / May 19, 2009 10:09 PM PDT

and not the first, so why is it an issue?

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Thanks for your contribution.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / May 19, 2009 10:16 PM PDT

The point is male dominance of course. In the day and age when there should be no differences in opportunity between male and female, in the UK the sovereignty is passed on not to the oldest child, but to the oldest male child.

We need to move on from that archaic viewpoint.

You have.


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by EdHannigan / May 20, 2009 5:44 AM PDT

There has been a Queen for decades, so obviously she was not passed by. What's the point of having a Queen? Tradition, right? So if you are going to have an archaic tradition, what's the problem with the archaic method of succession? Why should it be the oldest child? Why not some slob in the street? Why not have an election?

I mean, come on, if you want to move on from archaic viewpoints, get rid of the monarchy altogether..

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You're right.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / May 20, 2009 6:22 AM PDT
In reply to: But.....

Many people here would agree with you to remove the monarchy.

It's not my view but if enough supporters were ever elected to Parliament then that change may well happen.

I would not have been well thought of in medieval and Victorian times. If I was the same then as I am now, I would have advocated many things, one of which was succession to the throne by the eldest child, not just the eldest son. I suspect I would have lost my head.

Our current queen? When Edward VIII abdicated in the 1930's his brother became King, George VI. He was the 2nd oldest of 4 brothers, Edward being the oldest.

He married and had 2 daughters, no sons. When he died in the early 50's, his eldest daughter Elizabeth succeeded to the throne. Had there been a son, she would not have been crowned.


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Actually don't care one way or the other...
by EdHannigan / May 20, 2009 6:47 AM PDT
In reply to: You're right.

It's not my country. But note, even if the rules changed to give women a better chance, you are still discriminating on the basis of age.

If you think about it, the monarchy is totally illogical. Trying to make it more logical is futile IMHO.

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by MarkFlax Forum moderator / May 20, 2009 6:53 AM PDT

You're right of course. We wouldn't expect a baby to succeed to the throne and manage all those affairs on its own.

Not sure what other age issues there are.


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Why is it the oldest son or daughter...
by EdHannigan / May 20, 2009 7:33 AM PDT
In reply to: Age?

Why not the second oldest? It's purely arbitrary at this point, though there may have been some sense to it in ancient times. And there HAVE been "child kings" in history.

And when you come down to it, why does anyone consider this particular family What have these individuals done to deserve their station? As far as I can tell, nothing. That's what I mean by "illogical".

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I see what you mean
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / May 20, 2009 6:56 PM PDT

But removing the sexist discrimination at least gets rid of one of the two.

Why do we still have monarchs? I guess we all still need some sort of figurehead, wherever we live.


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One man's archaic is another's essential.
by drpruner / May 20, 2009 11:28 AM PDT
In reply to: But.....

National flags had their origin in battle, land or sea. It's how each side identified itself at long distance, and served as a rallying point. They also had [archaic] animal symbols and such. Nowadays we have radio and TV, so 'flags are archaic'. But if you start the rounds of national capitals with a 'drop the flag' message you may get a nasty (and illogical) surprise.

Queen Victoria was a symbol beyond comprehension to us, as I find between the lines of Kipling et al. George and Queen Mother Elizabeth stayed in London through most of the Blitz (with Elizabeth and Margaret!), greatly building morale. (QM Elizabeth was the most popular of the family for decades after.) The current Elizabeth was commended for her handling of Diana's death and commemoration. (Note that the situation occurred only because of the existence of a monarchy, but that it was handled by them also.)

I don't 'put my trust in earthling woman', but many do; ignore that at your peril in today's world.

Or: How many statues are in your church? Happy

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Queen Anne as the next head of state?????
by jonah jones / May 20, 2009 1:09 AM PDT

but but but but...........

she's ugly

308 year old rules of succession to the throne, doing away with the bar on marrying Roman Catholics and discretionary primogeniture. If this were to happen then Queen Elizabeth?s daughter, Anne, who is officially known as the Princess Royal, would come before her brothers Princes Andrew and Edward, and their children, in line to succession. She is currently the tenth in line to the throne but this could make her leapfrog to number four after the Prince of Wales, Charles and his two sons, Princes William and Harry.

The Princess Royal, whose full name is Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise was third in line to the throne at the time of her birth in 1950. However with additions to the Royal Family she was pushed to number ten in the line of succession. She currently carries out approximately 700 royal engagements and public appearances a year.

Princess Anne is known for her charitable work and is the patron of over 200 organizations. She is also known for her horseback riding skills and is the only member of the Royal Family to have competed in the Olympic Games. She is currently married to Timothy Laurence and has two children from her last marriage with Mark Phillips. Her children were the first grandchildren of a ruling sovereign to have no titles. Anne was also the first Royal divorcee to remarry after Victoria, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine, did so in 1905. Neither of the Princess? two husbands recieved any peerage.


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RE: carries out approximately 700 royal engagements a year
by JP Bill / May 20, 2009 4:22 AM PDT

That would make anybody ugly.

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