Helen Martin: MPs care more about careers than country

Picture: Justin Spittle
Picture: Justin Spittle
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WHAT are politicians for? Not a futile, rhetorical question, but a serious issue and one that has never been as clearly illustrated as today in the UK.

Do they exist to represent the electorate and attend to the business of running the country on our behalf while we get on with work, production, paying taxes et al?

Should they look after UK interests – and ours – and do their best for all of us, rich or poor, who, after all, pay their rather handsome wages?

Or are they there to win, serve their party, forge their own careers and make their historic mark in the esoteric circles in which they live and socialise, peopled by others with an all-consuming interest in party-political rivalry?

When the Brexit vote won, chaos erupted. The market may have steadied and threats subsided but still, the whole world, not just Britain, is questioning our future.

All that has been put on hold thanks to our two main UK political parties who are taking centre stage as they squabble and fight over foot holds on the greasy pole.

David Cameron was the first to throw his toys out of the pram. He called the referendum but lost. So yah, boo, sucks... he doesn’t want to play PM any more even though the Tories have another few years in Downing Street. Rather than keep his hand on the tiller so that all attention can be focused on EU negotiations, he’s off and we are plunged into another messy internal battle as his Conservative colleagues fight over who will take over party power and leadership.

And that is exactly what it’s about – leadership of their own troops and power over the opposition. That’s what matters to them.

When middle England voted for Brexit, the Labour party turned on Jeremy Corbyn for failing to get its Remain message across to the pro-Labour electorate. But politicians don’t seem to accept that we don’t have to do as they tell us. The idea is that they should respect OUR wishes. We vote as we like. And, regardless of what they think, the EU was not a party decision.

If folk were daft enough to regard Brexit as a protest vote against their poverty amid fears of immigration instead of a complex decision on the UK’s future for generations, that’s hardly Corbyn’s fault. All Westminster politicians, especially Tory and Labour, are out of touch with the electorate, choosing instead to believe that their own paid-up party members and politicians (rather than the public) reflect and represent their personal success. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Those of us who care more about the really important issues than whether Gove or May, Corbyn or Eagle are head boy or girl, despair at their petty squabbles. This self-seeking, adversarial system of Westminster government is past its sell-by date, based as it is on the legacy of ancient civil war... two opposing armies, winner takes all, victory or defeat, back-stabbing and manoeuvring – anything goes to be first past the post, a battle which trumps anything else going on in the world.

Corbyn is too idealistic, principled and not vicious or cunning enough to survive in these trenches. It will always be that way until (if ever) the UK government switches to 21st century appropriate proportional representation, fostering genuine debate, more voices and consensus to do the best for the people.

£5k not enough for hell Travers went through

OPENNESS and transparency have never been by-words of the city council, an organisation funded by us in which corruption and bribery in departments and a lack of scrutiny of contracts, spending and safety inspections on everything from trams to schools have backfired on us.

Hardly surprising then, that whistle-blowing to the benefit of the public and the embarrassment of the council was dealt with by a decade of intimidation, disciplinary proceedings and harassment of John Travers, pictured, who exposed alleged misspending of £400,000 of public money at the Edinburgh Lifelong Learning Partnership.

The police are being called in to investigate the original fraud claim. But a council chief executive apology to Mr Travers is a joke and the £5000 he won in compensation after an employment tribunal hearing isn’t enough. The council bears responsibility for his ten years of misery, although ideally at least some compensation should come from the pockets of those despicable, individual council employees responsible and heads of the departments who allowed it to happen on their watch.

Let’s just make nuisance calls illegal

IN Scotland, we receive more nuisance calls than anywhere else in Britain despite more than half the landlines here being registered with the Telephone Preference Service... which many sales firms simply ignore. It shouldn’t be up to us to buy special equipment to screen unwanted sales calls or scammers.

The Scottish Government now has more consumer powers. Let’s just make it completely illegal, an offence carrying six or seven digit fines, and potential imprisonment for chief executives of those firms which persist in harassing us in our own homes. That should put an end to it.

Basket case is not a mystery

TWO-THIRDS of UK shoppers regularly use Aldi and Lidl, put down by retail analysts to cheaper prices.

We’re not daft. Smart customers recognise value but also good quality, and that two or three product alternatives rather than dozens, makes shopping quicker and less stressful.