Michael Brown: Vultures feeding on a rotten corpse

Share
Related Topics

Yesterday's revelations about the alleged willingness of some Labour peers to take cash in return for seeking amendments to the law will be a nail in the coffin of Gordon Brown's government. Notwithstanding the protestations that none of those involved are ministers, the public will nevertheless see little difference between this and the cash-for-questions scandals of the mid-1990s involving John Major's government.

Based on the experience of the Tory troubles of 15 years ago, we are now into the rotting corpse stage of a governing party that has outlived any claims it had to be "purer than pure". There is an explicit suggestion of corruption. That Gordon Brown, like John Major before him, is probably one of the most morally-upright politicians of our time is neither here nor there. This is the moment when the inability of the Government to preside over good economic times for the masses fuses with the perception that politicians are on the take.

This was the problem for the Major government. Ordinary citizens were suffering from unemployment and house repossessions while we, as Tory MPs, were seen to be profiting from our privileges. I was caught up in the Neil Hamilton/Mohamed Al-Fayed saga. Both of us lost our seats at the subsequent election and faced an inquiry by the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee. The only difference now is that the claims refer to non-elected politicians. The brouhaha surrounding the events of 1996 became emblematic of everything else seen to be wrong about the Tory government. We were perceived as a party feathering our own nests and out of touch, through arrogance caused by length of time in office, to those we represented.

History is repeating itself. A collapsing economy (caused by bankers lauded – and knighted – by Labour ministers), a refusal to subject MPs' expenses to Freedom of Information legislation, and the revelation that the Lords' dining room is a self-enriching clearing house for some Labour peers, create an impression that sleaze and greed have again become the driving forces of the economy and politics.

Perhaps there is a law of politics that a government in power for any length of time breeds arrogance, evasiveness and corruption. Only the cleansing power of defeat can renew the polity. Changes to rules, flimsy defences of no wrongdoing – employed by the Tories in the 1990s – do nothing to reassure the public. The stench of rotting fish from the Lords' dining room will inevitably overwhelm Labour at the polls.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there