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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
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

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor