There’s some news arriving from England about an undercover report about Members of Parliament apparently seeking lobbying work after they leave office. (A little like Turkmeniscam?) The Times (UK) has a report (with video) and The Guardian has an editorial on the topic.
Whatever happened to the Committee on Standards in Public Life, you ask? Where, 11 commodious reports later, did all the purity go? In fact, there’s a reasonable story to tell on behalf of the committee. There wouldn’t be an Electoral Commission, stronger rules on lobbyists or better standards in many areas without it. You can use a checklist to make sure that expense regimes in the next parliament don’t ooze away. You can expect something better than the slop of self-serving regulation. You can hope that the prime minister doesn’t cover up for colleagues in a jam.
But there is one question without an answer, one problem that stinky stings underline. Where – after all those 16 years – are the committee’s own Seven Principles of Public Life, the bedrock that Lord Nolan first carved? Selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership? Ideas and ideals, not just words. And there, in its latest annual report, the committee seems to shrug, a Sysiphus pleading exhaustion.