A criminal offence to mislead

Image thanks to NCAC.org

You’re receiving this email because you signed this petition: “Make it a criminal offence for MPs to mislead the public”. 

I knew this one hadn’t a chance of passing into legislation yet I still feel it is important to continue with these petitions. Even if they don’t achieve anything immediately they provide a constant drip of activity that influences those who  represent us. I knew this one was doomed on two counts, firstly why would Parliament pass a law that would make many of them appear in court? Secondly the burden of proof for a criminal case is beyond reasonable doubt and it will be very difficult to prove such a thing. It is easy to prove that something said is wrong but proving intent, in my opinion would be  impossible.

I am therefore not surprised that ‘The Government does not intend to introduce legislation. MPs must abide by the Code of Conduct and allegations of misconduct are investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.’

The irony is, however, that ‘Once elected to Parliament, all MPs must abide by the seven principles of public life which form the basis of ethical standards expected of holders of public office. These are set out by the Committee on Standards in Public Life and are: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. It is a requirement that any holder of public office must be truthful and must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.’

There is also a general duty on MPs to “act in the interests of the nation as a whole; and a special duty to their constituents”.

We don’t need more legislation. What we need is for the existing rules and code of conduct to be applied. Lies and misleading statements need to be called out by those in authority and by those who they represent. 

What then can we do? If you believe that a politician is lying or misleading, counter their arguments. Write to the speaker if it happened in the house, or write to your MP if it is outside Parliament. 

Above all though our power comes through the ballot box. Don’t reward liars and those who set out to mislead by voting them back into power.

The answer ultimately lies on our hands.

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