Friday, 5 November 2021
Worse Than Sleaze
I only ask, but is Martin Bell remembered as a particularly good MP? "Sleazebusters" are not even single issue candidates. They are no issue candidates. UKIP still exists, and it is now led by Neil Hamilton. He should put up at North Shropshire. I am not saying he should be elected. But he ought to stand.
As for Owen Paterson, by resigning he has escaped any censure, and he has immediately become eligible for a pension that, based on his 24 years in Parliament, is larger than most people's salaries. He will certainly retain his lobbying income, and no doubt acquire more.
The House of Commons effectively rejected the finding against him, and that will always now be its last word on the subject, so there is no reason why, as a former Cabinet Minister, he ought not to be given a peerage. Then again, he might try for a Commons comeback, in the way that Keith Vaz has continued to maintain two staffed offices in Leicester East, doing casework and waiting for the day.
Yet even allowing for the near-certainty that anything else would have come to the same conclusions, the procedure to which Paterson and Vaz were subjected was and is unfair. The investigator, the prosecutor, the jury and the judge are all the same person. This is as unjust as Claudia Webbe's, or anyone else's, trial by a District Judge, who both determines guilt and then passes sentence by sitting alone as a salaried employee of the same State that has brought the prosecution.