Amongst the myriad of petitions that are available to add ones name to at present on the Parliament website perhaps the most dispiriting one is entitled “Make it a criminal offence for members of parliament to lie in parliament.” In many senses this is an important issue, it is after all a criminal offence for the rest of us to lie in Parliament. That the same rule should be applied to MPs is perfectly reasonable. However perhaps it should also be extended to their work as an MP. This week Lucy Allan, MP for Telford has been exposed as lying on her facebook posting, claims that an email she received from a constituent contained a deaththreat. She posted the email in its entirety and then added an addition line at the bottom for good measure. The man concerned was understandably upset. Her other constituents are also very disappointed including at least one person I know. Then yesterday the news emerged from an Edinburgh election court that Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland had not broken any election rules despite lying about emails he had leaked regarding Nicola Sturgeon. “Two judges ruled that Carmichael lied about the leak but said it could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt that the former Scotland secretary’s dishonesty was designed to mislead voters in his Orkney and Shetland constituency about his personal conduct. Despite clearing him of breaching the Representation of the People Act 1983, the judges were damning about his conduct. Carmichael authorised the leak of allegations that Sturgeon had secretly backed David Cameron to win the general election when she met the French ambassador, Sylvie Bermann, in March.” At the time of the lie coming to light Sir Malcolm Bruce claimed that Politicians tell “brazen lies” as he defended the actions of ex-Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael.
We shouldn’t need a petition to stop MPs lying, or stealing public money in the form of expenses. However we need a Parliament and indeed a Government we can trust. Sadly far too often MPs and Ministers are criticised and lose their posts because of genuine mistakes, yet seem to be impervious to any action when they lie and steal!