The opportunity to listen to Martin Bell at Stockton last week was too good to miss. He referred early on to the book he 'wasn't promoting.' As an ex Independent MP elected as a result of the Neil Hamilton 'brown envelope' episode some years ago Bell's views were enlightening to say the least.
The book he wasn't promoting starts with a poem that needs no explanation. I have been given permission to reproduce it here:
I wish I had my own duck house,
Redacted and anonymous,
A shaded pool where ducks could float,
A pond, a river or a moat,
A place unto the manor born
Where moles would not uproot the lawn.
I was not born to privilege,
But loitered at the water’s edge,
And played the Honourable Member
From January to December.
I wish to thank the voters’ sense
For choosing me at their expense;
On their behalf I did my best,
Including things they never guessed.
Though my accomplishments were zero.
In fiddling I was next to Nero,
I was a self philanthropist,
Master of the John Lewis List;
I had a profitable innings
And duly pocketed the winnings,
The subsidies, the perks, the pay,
The petty cash, the ACA.
The Tudor beams, the chandeliers,
The bills for swimming pool repairs,
The hanging plants, the trouser press,
Nothing exceeded like excess,
The whirlpool bath, the horse manure,
Whiter than white, purer than pure.
And so it was until, alas,
The MPs’ scandals came to pass.
I was your Honourable Friend –
A pity that it had to end.
And then to avoid the sneers of Mr Paxman
I wrote a cheque and sent it to the taxman.
This poem by Martin Bell is extracted from A Very British Revolution: The Expenses Scandal and How to Save Our Democracy (Icon Books, Oct09) by Martin Bell.