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Back to Westminster and it is as if the summer never happened

If ever there was a day when this discredited and demoralised Parliament - and that includes the government - should have realised that its number was up, yesterday was it.
The long summer break, the party conferences, the certainty of a General Election less than eight months away and the first, tentative, signs of economic recovery should have been the point at which the past started to be the past and the future started to come into focus with a little more clarity. Instead, it was a disaster for MPs, Parliament and democracy in this country.
Quite what Sir Thomas Legg was thinking when he decided to retrospectively re-write the rules on expenses is anyone's guess. He may have a point that some of the allowances were too generous but they were the rules and he was asked to look at the enforcement of the rules as they stood and any breaches of them that hadn't already been highlighted, not unilaterally change the rules. That said, he has done it and put MPs' expenses right back on the front pages.
The effect of this is to further erode the public's already limited respect for MPs, Parliament and, ultimately, representative democracy. Although the starting pistol for the witch hunt of MPs was fired by those MPs who fleeced an inadequate system, it has run out of control and damaged many decent MPs who do understand the trust the public places in them. 
Just why we need Parliament and need MPs who understand what they are there to do was demonstrated by yesterday's other major political news - the proposed sale of some state-owned assets.
Amazingly, after all this government's talk of restoring Parliament to its proper role of holding the executive to account, it had no plans to tell Parliament that it was planning this asset sale. It took demands from the Liberal Democrats' Treasury spokesman, Vince Cable, to get a Treasury minister to come to the dispatch box and explain what is going on. In the end, the number two at the Treasury Liam Byrne made a limp attempt to explain and defend the proposals, having suffered a lashing from Mr Cable who dismissed the plans as a "national car boot sale". There was still no indication as to how the huge state-owned assets in the financial sector are going to be handled. Amazingly, this morning there is still nothing on the Treasury's website about these sell-off plans.
The only sane conclusion to draw out of another shameful day at Westminster is that we need a new Parliament soon, very soon.
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