Parliament – the institution that never learns

In voting back disgraced MP Keith Vaz to the Home Affairs Select Committee, Parliament has once again thumbed its collective nose at the British people.

Vaz withdrew from the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee after this expose in the staunchly Labour supporting Sunday Mirror. Prostitutes and Drugs were the allegations. Hardly a fitting reputation for a supposed guardian of the legal process.

But in less than two months, his fellow MPs have returned him to the committee, despite an attempt by Andrew Bridgen MP to force a vote – and by 203 -7 his appointment was confirmed.

If this had been Keith Vaz’ sole indiscretion it might have been just within the realms of understanding. But Vaz is an MP who has proven to be both immune to normal standards of shame, and slippery as teflon in avoiding any real loss for his misdemeanors.

A long history of poor judgement.

His first brush with Parliamentary Authority was in the days of Elizabeth Filkin. Filkin was the Parliamentary Standards Commission who proved to be far too good at her job for MPs liking and they briefed against her maliciously before having her ousted as an inconvenience.

The tenacious investigator found that Vaz has received donations from a lawyer which he had not declared. This was only one of 18 complaints against the then Europe minister. Soon he was deep in trouble again, over the Passports for Hinduja affair. Vaz was found to have made representations to the Home Office and soon stepped down for ‘Health Reasons’.

In 2002, Vaz was suspended from the house after three complaints were upheld against him, in addition to an investigation which outside the house involved allegations of perverting the course of justice.

But his poor judgement is allied by a lack of self awareness and a hunger for publicity. A serial bandwaggon jumper described by Patrick Mercer as ‘A Crook of the first Order’ who despite this had Mercer’s respect as a stunning operator.

There are many other issues with Vaz, but I won’t waste too many words continuing, the picture is already clear and a pattern of behaviour established.

Parliament fails yet again

Despite there being an opportunity to stop this appointment by vote, and despite the Labour Party having the ability to put up and support another candidate, Vaz was returned with an overwhelming majority.

Of course this reflects badly on the Labour Party itself, but is wasn’t the Labour party that voted for him – it was the Tories – 159 of them, apparently to preserve the ‘Process’. They have returned Vaz to position which I would suggest he is not fit to hold (and might still be forced to leave as he is still under investigation). Past this, it can be almost guaranteed that the party will return him to his seat until he retires voluntarily in one of the safest constituencies in the nation. Clearly the ‘Process’ is broken.

The reason for this is simple – Parliament has its own code of conduct which no longer bears any resemblance to that of the majority of the voters. We knew this when it ousted Elizabeth Filkin, and when it tried to brush the expenses affair under the table. But it has now completed its own defenestration. It holds no respect in British public life, MPs now reduced to the status level of used car salesmen and estate agents.

Don’t bet on any improvement soon.


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