Among the issues arising from revelations about MPs' expenses, is what should the Labour Party be doing about its own elected representatives currently in Parliament and those Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) who hope to represent it in future?
I have been fulsome, some might say slavish, in my unprompted praise for our Leader, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his controversial decision to force changes to MPs' expenses entitlements onto the agenda. Given the constitutional niceties, he is free to take direct action against any minister deemed to have been 'milking the system' to 'feather their own nest'. It is contemptible that Labour MPs, especially cabinet minister(s) are retreating behind the excuse that 'it was within the rules'. That is no different than saying 'I was only obeying orders' - indefensible.
What I want to explore are the other layers of governance and accountability within the Labour Party itself. What are the officers of CLPs in, for example, Salford considering in the light of revelations about their MP, Hazel Blears? For those of us, Labour Party members, who do go out on the doorsteps, canvassing and delivering leaflets, this is very much our business. Why should any of us volunteer our time to enable someone on the make to get into Parliament?
And in its turn, what is the Labour Party's National Executive Committee going to do? It has extensive powers to tackle members who allegedly bring the Party into 'disrepute'. When we meet on 19 May, I don't think we can let the matter pass. I just hope I am not alone in thinking we have to act, and act now before the June elections. Speed is needed to progress, however painfully, the rebuilding of public trust in parliamentary democracy, in general, and the Labour Party in particular.
UPDATE 1310 - For Labour Party members who would prefer to comment in the relative privacy of Membersnet go here.
UPDATE 1345 - For anyone wanting to vote on this issue, Mike Ion has set up a poll on Labourhome here.