Wednesday, 4 November 2009

No expense spared

Today sees the official publication of Sir Christopher Kelly’s proposals for getting out of the MPs’ expenses quagmire. As further evidence that this sorry mess is as much a system problem as it is one of personal morality, Baroness Shirley Williams spoke out on last Friday’s BBC Radio 4 Any Questions programme, saying “… governments have been completely complicit in this, by refusing to raise MPs’ salaries, by asking them, telling them, to claim the maximum expenses they could, which was, in fact, an invitation to behave in a dodgy manner … Government has to stand up and take part of the blame for all this."

Returning to the story in yesterday's post concerning Professor David Nutt’s views on drugs, I had a chance to read selective extracts from his paper. I must say that it was a model of measured professionalism. I could find no overt criticism of government policy, double dealing or hurt feeling. While most people take a strong view either for or against Alan Johnson’s sacking of Professor Nutt, one wise soul simply advised ‘I think he [Johnson] could have let this one go’. That’s how it seems to me. Keep your powder dry for the most egregious cases of reprehensible behaviour.