Fringe parties gain ground over expenses scandal

An expenses scandal is eroding support for Britain's three main political parties, a poll showed today, and has brought calls for parliament's most senior figure to step down.

The Sun said a general election due by the middle of next year should be held immediately after days of disclosures about MPs' questionable and sometimes lavish expenses brought British politics into disrepute.

"Voters have had enough of this Government, enough of greedy MPs, enough of a Commons Speaker who has turned the Mother of Parliaments into the mother of all shyster politicians," it said in an editorial headlined "Give Britain an election ... now."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is certain to resist calls for an election, with his Labour Party trailing the Conservatives in polls and the economy in its worst recession since World War Two.

The Conservatives had a 16 per cent lead over Labour in an opinion poll published in the Daily Telegraph today. The Conservatives were on 39 per cent, Labour 23 per cent, the Liberal Democrats 19 per cent and other parties also 19 per cent.

The support for parties beyond the main three had jumped nine points from the previous month, adding to speculation that fringe groups like the Greens, the anti-European Union UK Independence Party and far-right British National Party (BNP) will show big gains in European and local elections on June 4.

Financial markets have yet to show any response to the scandal. European and local government elections rarely cause market ripples regardless of results. However, a poor showing for Labour would reopen speculation about whether Brown should lead the party into a general election next year.

Investors are worried about ballooning debt but, given opinion polls, will not be surprised if Labour loses next year's election.



SPEAKER FACES CRITICS

A Conservative politician has prepared a motion of no confidence in Michael Martin, the Speaker of the House of Commons (lower house), over his handling of the crisis.

If ousted, Martin would be the first Speaker to be sacked since 1695. The position of a Speaker or presiding officer in British politics dates back to the 13th century.

As well as keeping order in the lower house of parliament and calling MPs to speak, the Speaker, who wears a black silk robe over his suit, is the house's highest authority who must have support across the political spectrum.

Martin, a veteran member of the Labour party, has been criticised for opposing transparency on MPs' expenses and failure to overhaul a flawed system. He is due to make a statement to the house on Monday at around 3:30 p.m. in which he is likely to set out his plans for reform.

The Daily Telegraph has got hold of a disc containing details of expense claims and has been publishing damaging reports of claims for moat cleaning, an adult film and dog food, as well as for mortgages that have been paid off.

The image of all parties has suffered, but Labour has been worst hit because it has been in power for the last 12 years and was already on the ropes over the economic crisis.

Labour has suspended two MPs and one of its junior ministers has stepped down pending an investigation into his finances.

Business Secretary Peter Mandelson said in a speech on Monday that the combination of financial and political crisis made it "a dangerous time for politics."

"I know that people are really angry and appalled by the sort of disclosures that are being made ... and it's totally fair that people are angry about it," Mandelson told Sky News.

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home