Magazine article Public Finance

Leader Promises, Promises

Magazine article Public Finance

Leader Promises, Promises

Article excerpt

Having survived only by his well-bitten fingertips, the prime minister is in full hairshirt mode. Gordon Brown has apologised profusely to Labour backbenchers and promised the public wide-ranging constitutional reform.

MPs will find themselves under much greater scrutiny and could face recall for serious financial misconduct.

A new parliamentary body will be set up to pay expenses, while a commission will examine the membership of select committees.

These should be relatively uncontentious changes. Given the revelations of the past month, it would be hard for anyone to assert that reform of Parliament is not overdue.

The arguments will be saved for the wider reform of the electoral system and the proposal to move to an Alternative Vote Plus system. But at least these issues are being debated, with nothing seemingly sacrosanct.

Time will tell whether this heralds a new era of open politics. However, the early signs are not hugely encouraging.

Brown's reshuffle, following Labour's disastrous performance in the local and European elections, was a classic example of old-fashioned politicking. …

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