Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Who will rid us of these turbulent MPs?

There's a terrible inevitability about it, isn't there?

Faced with the threat of prosecution for their dubious accounting practices, do Elliot Morley, David Chaytor, Jim Devine and Lord Hanningfield put up their hands and utter the immortal words 'It's a fair cop, guv'? Why no, dear reader, they do not.

Instead they plan to hide behind the skirts of parliamentary privilege, claiming that under the 1689 Bill of Rights, the dodgy figures were communicated via 'proceedings' and are therefore exempt from criminal prosecution.

Funnily enough, something of the sort was going on in the 12th century. "Yes, there may be a sackful of someone else's gold under my bed but I'm a priest, so you can't try me in a criminal court - I know my rights!"

So the errant cleric would be tried by his peers away from the King's justice system by like-minded and sympathetic souls. The trouble was that the Benefit of Clergy wasn't exactly a way to win friends and influence people, as Thomas Becket found out.

Meanwhile, speculation in the Tavern that there was an eminence grise lurking in the shadows of the expenses fiasco may yet prove prescient. Jim Devine is the first to blame an 'unnamed Labour whip' for advising him how to carry out the financial manoeuvres that may yet land him in the dock.


  1. Beckett had it coming. He had been involved in wrongful property grabs as well as leveraged tax hikes to the detriment of the landowners. Reginald Fitz Urse had plenty to complain about. So have the taxpayers today.

  2. Well said, Demetrius. There's a definite parallel here - a sector of the population with a strong sense of entitlement and a firm belief they are above the law.

    Only this lot don't claim to have God on their side - with the possible exception of one T Blair, for whom the good Lord has recently provided, in the shape of a handsome profit on a house bought with an expenses-funded mortgage.