Book Review: Martin Williams ~ Parliament Ltd: A Journey to the Dark Heart of British Politics (2017)

The Daily Telegraph’s expose* of MP’s expenses shook Britain. MPs were engaged, as a group in shameless systemic fraud. It sickened the public and destroyed the reputation of them all, the innocent and the guilty. There were significant changes to the administration of expenses and Williams explores what happened in six sections.

Seven MPs were jailed and some resigned but many were unscathed even if they’d to repay thousands of pounds. Williams notes five singular examples (p209). One was George Osborne, who’s a millionaire by the by. He repaid money claimed for his horse paddock. Embarrassing in 2009: Chancellor in 2010.

Williams worries about direct business interests, which are often unacknowledged in debate. The principal areas of Williams’s concerns are the heavily influenced debates, quasi-lobbying ‘word in your ear’, hospitality, overseas trips, and jobs after leaving office. Parliament is a club, which was why the expenses scandal arose in the first place. Normative behaviour said ‘fiddling’ expenses was OK now it’s using the role of MP as a career move before earning more in the private sector. A very valuable and readable book.


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