Friday, July 21, 2006

Abrogating Responsibility - Again

The Commons Standards Committee absolutely defies belief. Apparently, although John Prescott broke the ministerial code in not declaring his cowboy visit, he won't have to ride off into the sunset because he's admitted to having the visit and has declared it. Is the Standards Committee of this world?

If that logic is applied, then stealing shouldn't be a problem - provided that the moment you are caught, you return the stolen items to their original owner. The whole point of the ministerial code, surely, is that it removes the need for a culture of suspicion, because the public are aware of the extra-curricular meetings and dealings with interested parties. A truly transparent - whiter-than-white - government doesn't cover these things up. Would Prescott's behaviour have been acceptable if he hadn't been found out by the press?

Blair, of course, won't take any action that might precipitate a high-profile election within the Labour Party. He knows that any election to replace Prescott as Deputy Leader would make his position entirely untenable, as it would emphasise his lack of support among his own troops. But not to sack someone for breaching the ministerial code completely breaks the point of having it in the first place. Making good on an error is not good enough - Prescott was trying to keep the meeting secret from the public, and if he hadn't been found out we'd still be none the wiser.

How can 30% of the country still believe this shambles of a Government deserves to be re-elected? Time after time after time, Blair keeps treating the country with contempt. He realises that short of a military coup, he can do whatever the hell he likes and get away with it. We have to call him out. The Government is full of crooks and liars. And crooks and liars who refuse to take responsibility when they are wrong.

What we are seeing today is a manifestation of Blair's inability to answer the question at PMQs. All he continues to do is say that the Tories were bad when they were in government. That was nine years ago - it will not do. Where there have been problems, they have had more than enough time to fix them. If new problems have arisen, it is their fault. Yet all they ever do is harp on about the Tory record. They can't escape accountability forever.