A Very British Revolution, By Martin Bell

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The Independent Culture

As a former MP and member of the Committee on Standards and Privileges, Martin Bell is well-placed to write about the MPs' expenses scandal. The question is, does he have anything interesting to say?

Much of it seems to be manufactured indignation, an extended piece of rant-journalism directed at an easy target: "hard to know whether to laugh or cry"... "politics of the pig-trough"... "spivs and speculators"... "national disgrace"... "bath plugs"... "duck islands", etc.

But Bell's central thesis, that there has been a revolution in British politics, is unsubstantiated. Politicians are unpopular and our whole system will have to change – that's all the argument amounts to.

I don't find it surprising that, as Bell puts it, "If money was there to be taken, they took it." Bell is right that internationally we are living in dangerous times, with war, piracy, mass migration of refugees, failed states, failing resources and global warming to reckon with. But pious outrage about MPs' expenses is a distraction from these genuine problems.