Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Leave George to the voters

George Galloway's appearance on Celebrity Big Brother has resulted in a campaign that is being directed at him through the Parliamentary Standards body. More than 100 people have pledged to complain about him.

I don't know if this body responds in a different way to a concerted letter writing campaign than it does to a single well-written letter, but it shouldn't. As far as I can see, this body should be notified when MPs do something in private that would somehow bring their status into disrepute.

I like George less than almost anyone I know, but I don't think there is anything private about what he is doing.

I hope that all 100+ letters end up in the bin.

Indeed, as Zoe Williams points out in the Guardian, he should be afforded less privacy, not more. Channel Four have actually decided to censor most contentious remarks that he makes. If they want Big Brother contestants to avoid any comment like this, they shouldn't have invited him on.

Or they could have invited someone who he wouldn't get on with if they are interested in lively TV. For instance, they could have invited the comedian Robert Webb who would have a few choice remarks ready. They seem, instead, to have settled for the worst of both worlds.

I've posted before asking if anyone else thinks that representative democracy is worth defending with any vigour and I've been disappointed in the results. That's why I'm not going to bother using Pledgebank to get 100 people to write to the Parliamentary Commissioner on Standards to say that Galloway's antics on TV are none of their business, and the only standards body that he should answer to is the voters of Bethnal Green and Bow.

Unfortunately, I suspect that there is a majority of people in this country who think that elected representatives need to be inordinately responsive to journalists, civil servants, pressure groups and the various busybodies who have been appointed to uphold 'standards'.

We seem to have turned the censorship of elected representatives into something of an industry in this country. It's time that we recognised that democracy is best served by the amplification of politicians. This is not always going to be the personal favour that some people imagine it to be. They are often quite good at generating the rope that we need to hang them with.

Unfortunately, we have a civil service who think that it is their job to hide that rope.

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