While the MP expenses scandal is outrageous, it’s dominating the news cycle to an extent that isn’t really healthy.
No-one denies the expenses system needs a complete overhaul. People are rightly angry with the liberties our elected representatives have taken, and the fact that some of them are still apparently living in the 15th century (claiming for moats and, um, quarters for one’s servants).
Cameron’s proposed Parliamentary reforms - as Nick Clegg, Simon Jenkins and Sunder Katwala argue - add up to, well, nowt much really. Putting political debates on YouTube and having text alerts for legislative bills is all very well, but does not a reformed Parliament make.
No doubt if Cameron becomes Prime Minister, Parliament will be so thrillingly modern that PMQ’s will be conducted entirely through Twitter, while Cabinet reshuffles will simply be done via text message (Ken u r now Mnstr 4 Trade lol!)
But there are other pressing matters to consider. Let’s not get so het up over subsidising a politician’s predilection for Ginger Crinkle biscuits that we forget to ask exactly where our £37bn of bailout money is going. Let’s also not neglect other little things, such as examining what our politicians actually believe in.
For example, it’s slightly worrying that the leader of the opposition in this country sincerely believes in the Laffer Curve economic theory.
For the uninitiated, the Laffer Curve is based on ‘trickle-down’ economics. The theory, sketched out on a restaurant napkin by Arthur Laffer (probably after having one too many beers) proposes that lowering taxation can actually increase government tax revenues.
Now, regardless of whether you’re on the left or right of the political spectrum, almost everyone agrees that the theory is nonsense. George Bush Sr mocked it as being ‘voodoo economics’. (Ronald Reagan nevertheless got out his best shaman gear as President, put it into practice and subsequently saw the federal deficit balloon from $900 billion to over $3 trillion on his watch).
So despite the fact that the Laffer Curve has about as much credibility as a rehab programme run by Shane MacGowan, Cameron thinks it’s the way to go.
Will the media press Cameron on this?
Don’t hold your breath.