Friday, 15 May 2009

MPs expenses and inauthenticity


      Readers outside of the UK may not about the UK’s current lead story: our political leaders have had their noses in the trough over the last few years, and the extent to which they have been gorging themselves is slowly becoming clear.

Although MPs are now becoming aware of the extent of the public’s disgust, for many, it still has to sink in.  Placing blame on the system, and insisting that they still deserve respect, still takes precedence over expressing real regret and acknowledging their mistakes, or even their crimes (which for some MPs at least, these activities may be).

My local MP, who insisted in our town’s paper only yesterday that has had done nothing wrong, has been sharing expenses with his wife, another MP, so that neither of them have had to pay any property related costs for the past eight to nine years.  His excuse: everything had been agreed before he claimed – so that’s OK then! Well no, it’s not, and it looks as if he and his wife are going to have to pay back several hundred thousand pounds.

We’ve been here before of course, with bankers’ bonuses, as both groups have been enriching themselves at our expense.  But if anything, the current scandal is even bigger and more repugnant.  Fred Goodwin was at least leading what was at the time a private sector business, and it was up to investors in, and regulators of, this business to control him (a duty they spectacularly failed in implementing, but that’s another story).  As an ‘honourable MP’, Andrew MacKay works in a role in which there is no external control other than the public’s trust in his appropriate, ethical behaviour.

I posted some time ago about Gordon Brown’s inauthenticity and our dislike in being led by a leader like this.  Our MPs need to wake up to the fact that it is their inauthentic behaviour that is causing the problem now.  They’ve positioned themselves as people who are serving a noble cause, as ‘honourable members’, but it is now quite clear that for many of them, the noble cause has been themselves.


I’m posting about this on this blog, because I think the story does signal a warning for an HCM (or maybe just my own) approach. I tend to believe that, in any organisation, people come to work to the best job that they can.  I also believe most people are ethical and respond to being trusted, not controlled.  The MPs saga illustrates how a badly managed environment and especially inappropriate mindsets can result in widespread dysfunctional behaviour.



Photo credit: titanium22



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  1. There are controls Jon. I live next door to a retired government auditor and the civil servants assigned to the House and the auditors have a clear responsibility to administer the rules.

    The 'HR' of the parties would have a similar responsibility as they review the welfare of their members. Surely they uplift the figures and do a little crunching?

    I liked the analysis of the BBC which noted that people are shocked but not surprised. Surprise usually precedes shock. The wording used by so many people suggests that people were aware of what has been going on - at least in general terms. What is shocking is the difficulty of cleaning it up the mess now it is public.

    We all know that this is not the last scandal that will come out. What will be interesting is whether people in other areas of life will start to put their houses in order.

  2. Well today is the day - the BBC has leaked the findings from the Kelly inquiry into MPs expenses ( - looks like the 'good times' are over, and not before time. This whole affair has been a disgrace.


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