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Proletarian issue 30 (June 2009)
Editorial: MPs’ expenses scandal reveals parasitic nature of the bourgeois parliament

The hot topic of discussion at the moment is the ongoing scandal around MPs’ expenses, following the disclosure of dozens of cases of abuse of the Commons allowances system by some leading members of each of the three main parliamentary parties.

Earlier this year, Labour, fearing that its MPs would be caught with their hands in the till, desperately tried to push through a motion preventing the disclosure of MPs’ expenses. However, despite a three-line whip, the motion was defeated, as the opposition parties succumbed to massive public pressure (no doubt with the next general election in mind).

In the event, the sordid details of MPs’ expenses were revealed not through a Freedom of Information Act request but by the Daily Telegraph, which had obtained a full copy of the expenses record via another source. Soon, the government found itself buried under “a relentless stream of front-page headlines proclaiming the nation’s elected representatives to be a bunch of thieves and vagabonds”, as it came to light that taxpayers’ money had been funding new houses, renovations, furnishings, nannies, soft jobs for MPs’ relatives and, perhaps most notoriously, lewd entertainment for the home secretary’s husband. (Financial Times, 21 May 2009)

The political fallout was unprecedented: a flurry of rushed resignations of shamed MPs, rueful apologies from Gordon Brown and David Cameron, the resignation of the Speaker of the House of Commons, the prospect of criminal and tax evasion charges being brought against a number of MPs, and a renewed deep public resentment towards the major parliamentary parties.

It is not news to us (or, we imagine, most other people) that MPs fiddle their expenses, and perhaps under normal circumstances this episode would have been less high profile. However, when the capitalist class (with the full support of the government) is trying to dig itself out of economic crisis by shedding jobs in their hundreds of thousands and by quietly dismantling the social welfare system, it’s not entirely surprising that people are irked at the thought of MPs using taxpayers’ money to fund their expensive habits.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams took the opportunity to point out that his party has for many years voluntarily published its full annual accounts, and that the wage for a Sinn Féin MP, or any other party worker, is “exactly the same average industrial wage, which is £356 per week, net”. (ardfheis.com)

The contrast between Sinn Féin’s representatives and the careerists of the major British political parties serves to highlight the parasitism of the modern bourgeois state. Sinn Féin representatives work passionately and selflessly towards a brighter future; Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs do the dirty work of the imperialist bourgeoisie and they expect to be rewarded handsomely for it.

The British bourgeois parliament is a corrupt, parasitic establishment whose sole purpose is to maintain the relationship of exploitation between labour and capital and between imperialism and the third world. “To decide once every few years which members of the ruling class are to repress and crush the people through parliament – this is the real essence of bourgeois parliamentarism.” (Lenin, State and Revolution, 1917)

Certainly, under socialism, all state representatives will receive [I]“salaries no higher than a workman’s wage, all under the control and leadership of the armed proletariat ... This is what will bring about the abolition of parliamentarism and the preservation of representative institutions. This is what will rid the labouring classes of the bourgeoisie’s prostitution of these institutions.” [/I]([I]Ibid[/I])

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