So, absolute power corrupts absolutely. But who’d want to be a politician? Well, if it can get someone like Robin Cook (RIP) sex with a secretary 20 plus years his junior, and Boris Johnson – please god, don’t let the pantomime clown have the keys to the capital – an affair or two (god knows there can’t be any other reason) then maybe it’s proof that, like beer, power can give even the most repulsive people the chance of fornication with those whom, in any other situation, given the choice, would choose the firing squad.
With sleaze and spin the watchwords of the last decade, would it really be worth it though? The tabloids adore nothing like a whiff of political scandal, (Tory peers sex addiction last weekend gracing the thoroughly morally upright ‘News’ Of The World) and considering, for such an apparently intelligent lot, their propensity for total and utter cranial bypass when cheating on wives/misappropriating funds/negotiating Saudi arms deals, you’d have thought that the only thing power does is cloud the grey matter.
But fret not, for there’s a place where all politicians go to die: Europe. Sacked from the party for dodgy tax affairs? Has-been powerhouse from the left? Just ask Neil Kinnock and Peter Mandleson how lucrative being an MEP is and they’ll probably smile, wink, and wander off to their chauffered car.
Maybe that’s a little unfair (or not) on the ex-Labour monoliths, but last week proved that, compared to the vaguely transparent UK political system, Europe appears to be a black hole, especially when it comes to expenses. This is backed up by the astounding news that a report (reported in the Scotsman in February http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/latestnews/100m-fraud-inquiry-over-Euro.3805159.jp ) of hugely damaging proportions into MEPs expenditure, uncovering such gems as employing not one, but often multiple members of their family in ‘jobs’ as political researchers and secretaries (and often, them not even working for them), digesting vast amounts of expenses (6 figure sums that make our MPs seem like children after pocket money day) on holidays, (*ahem*, sorry, constitutional business), first class flights, limousines, (one wonders if ‘flowers’ got a mention?).
So, it’s hardly surprising, but utterly infuriating, that a report into their antics was astonishingly taken to vote, where, in a heart-warming moment of moral solidarity, they agreed by majority to suppress its publication. Why bite the hand that feeds? So, they get 150,000 to fly around the world all year, and our nurses and teachers have to strike to achieve sub-infaltion pay rises that take them to 50% of fuck all. If there’s one group that the tabs leave mostly alone but deserve our contempt it’s the wonderful MEP.
Still, if you can’t beat them….. flights to Brussels certainly are cheap this time of year.