For the past fortnight, Telegraph readers have woken up every day to stories about MPs abusing their expenses and wasting taxpayers’ money. What can they do about it?
The answer, at the moment, is very little. Voters need to be given the power to do something about politicians who have let them down. The parties shouldn’t be able to make their own minds up about what is legitimate and what should warrant the sack. John Gummer, for example, probably hasn’t broken the law by claiming £9,000 a year in gardening expenses, including hundreds of pounds for “mole treatment”. But his constituents might well think that someone who considers this a legitimate way to spend taxpayers’ money isn’t fit to represent them.
The MPs’ expenses scandal has created a crisis for democracy. That crisis offers an opportunity to build a more accountable, democratic and modern political system; one that will empower the ordinary voter to really hire and fire their MPs. Politicians of all parties have to seize that opportunity if they are to rebuild the integrity and reputation of British politics.