Rowan Williams is quoted in The Times as seeing the ongoing humiliation of MPs over the expenses row as being damaging to our democracy.
Is he right?
Agreed? Or just greed?
I think this is a very difficult subject, but I am inclined to go with Rowan. For what it's worth, a Parliamentary Democracy is what we have; and that means we rely on flawed people to operate it. Those who do real wrong should be made to pay back their ill-gotten gains and prevented from standing again... yes... but...
If we want paragons to populate Parliament, I'm sorry but I don't think there are 650 of them in the country. Never mind 2,600 so we can have meaningful elections & actually choose between them. And that's presuming that party machinery would actually choose those amazingly virtuous and always flawless people who would never do any wrong no matter what the circumstances, rather than people who had served their parties and impressed at selection meetings. That's right - these candidates need to be morally pure as the driven snow, able to resonate with the common voter, and communicate on TV like a seasoned actor but with the impassioned realism of Barack Obama.
I take it back. 650 of them? I don't think there are 20.
What we do want is accountability. But the drip-drip-drip of the Telegraph's revelations is not accountability. It is trial by Newsprint. It robs us of the rule of Parliament, which is how we are rightly governed and replaces it with rule by unelected media and by mob sentiment whipped up by said media.
Ultimately, David Cameron is right: an election will end this. But right now, I think he is wrong. An election today would be won on the whim of the press, not the merits of the case or the needs of the country. (I grant the press often influences elections - but this is exceptionally open to being the case right now.) A low turn out (due to voter disenchantment) favours radical parties (the BNP will always vote) and so skews results. I am not sure the BNP are the paragons for whom we seek.
So we are reminded by St Paul in 1 Timothy 2 to pray for all in authority "that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godlines and holiness". He was urging them to pray for Nero, who, I think it fair to say, was not many people's picture of an ideal ruler. We should heed St Paul & take our responsibility seriously. These are men & women at Westminster, not monsters. Men & women many of whom have done no wrong and all of whom have been tarred with the same brush. And even those who have sinned - are they so evil they are beyond forgiveness? Elections make for reckonings. Newspapers inform, but must never (because they are not, repeat NOT unbiased in themselves) take up the mantle of rule.
And I will side with Rowan. Enough of this. I prefer democracy. Not the mob. Not the bully. The ballot box, not the firing squad, no matter who pulls the trigger.
Because if we let anyone suffer that firing squad, eventually somebody will be holding a gun at us.