The end of politics? Don't believe it!

IS this the end of politics as we know it?Over the last month many people have been telling me that the expenses scandal at Westminster is so serious that it could lead to major changes to the British political system.

IS this the end of politics as we know it?

Over the last month many people have been telling me that the expenses scandal at Westminster is so serious that it could lead to major changes to the British political system.

The stranglehold of the “old” political parties will be broken, and a new constitutional settlement will be reached which will lead to more independent MPs sitting in Westminster and holding the government of the day to account.

That would be an exciting prospect - it would completely change the way politics operates in this country.

I have to say, though, that I don't believe for a moment that it will happen like that.

The current political crisis will completely blow over and in five years' time with a new government in power and the economy on the up again - and all the hysteria we are currently going through will be seen as merely a short-term hiatus.

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It was only 12 years ago that the sleaze revelations surrounding many Tory MPs prompted people to say that the party would be destroyed by what was happening to it.

The Tories were in a pretty sick state for the best part of a decade - apparently intent on naval-gazing and unable to organise themselves into an effective opposition - but since the election of David Cameron as leader have looked more and more like a government in waiting.

The opinion polls may be showing they have been harmed by the expenses revelations - but I don't see that as lasting and it could well turn out that Mr Cameron ultimately sees this time as a blessing in disguise.

It has given him the opportunity to prune out some of the “Knights of the Shires” like Sir Anthony Steen, Sir Peter Viggers and Douglas Hogg and open the door to more modern potential MPs.

His party will probably bounce back from the scandal much faster than Labour and will be very well placed by the time the next election comes around.

When the election does happen there may be several seats where independents win - but I can't really see them as causing any serious problems for the new government.

All the talk about constitutional reform is just that . . . talk. There will be some changes after the next election, but as the impact of this spring's revelations fades the zeal to change the system will too.

And any constitutional reform without a fundamental change to the voting system - introducing a system of proportional representation - will be just window dressing.

David Cameron has already repeated his party's opposition to electoral reform and as he seems certain to be the next prime minister that seems to be an end to that.

His proposal to reduce the number of MPs by 10 per cent also seems incredibly timid - why not cut it from the current 659 to 450 which the chamber was originally designed to hold?

What we will see after the next election is MPs determined to ensure they only claim reasonable expenses - just as after 1997 they were determined not to accept gifts wrapped in brown envelopes!

While more radical reform is desirable - some may say necessary - we all need to accept that constitutional reform in Britain happens very, very slowly . . . especially when the Conservatives are on the up!

HOW do you put the wind up Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley?

Tell him that you've just bumped into Terry Waite in his constituency.

Mr Ruffley has been in some trouble over his expenses - particularly the revelation that he bought an expensive television from Harrods and not from a business in his constituency.

Now I'm told he's convinced Mr Waite will stand against him in Bury St Edmunds constituency (which includes Stowmarket and Needham Market) and that he will be beaten by the former Beirut hostage.

WHAT a bizarre situation we are in today.

We voted in the county council and European elections yesterday, but as I write this we still don't know the results.

The county votes were not being counted until this afternoon and the European votes are not counted until Sunday - by which time there will no doubt have been yet more political revelations.

There is nothing Britain can do about that - the counting cannot take place until the whole of Europe has voted and many countries only have elections on Sundays.

But why the council elections have to be delayed is a mystery.

I know they say it takes too much time because there are two elections in the same ballot box - but they've always managed to get the result out on the night when general and county elections have taken place on the same day.

AFTER several years, my column will no longer be appearing here on line - it is evolving and becoming Paul Geater's Party Time - the blog looking at life in Ipswich and Suffolk . . . and sometimes beyond.

I shall still be concentrating on political issues - linked in with this column which will continue every Friday in the Star.

But like any politician, I'm likely to go off message at any time - so don't be surprised to find references to trains (especially of the steamy variety), Suffolk's wildlife, the latest retro-rockers to blast the Regent, or events at Portman Road.

I hope to update the blog very regularly - and you can also keep an eye on my updates by following me on Twitter. Even us oldies can get to grips with new technology!

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