A watchdog needs teeth
The sleaze and corruption at the heart of the Blair administration manifested itself again this week with the news that no replacement has been named for Sir Alistair Graham as parliamentary watchdog - or Chairman of the Committee for Standards in Public Life to give him his full portentious title.
This office should never be subject to the whims of the Prime Minister. Less so to a Prime Minister who has been proven to have omitted, distorted and misrepresented the truth, ridden roughshod over parliamentary democracy and who has inspired the audacious institutionalisation of criminal corruption at the core of government.
The remit is also too wide, covering MEPs, civil servants and local government as well as MPs and ministers. As Kinnock and Mandelson have so usefully demonstrated, the EU is home to the the inept, the incompetent and the corrupt with no hope of reform. Paid officials can have other effective control mechanisms. No, the real need is to call to account MPs and ministers - they are at the heart of it all. I suspect the remit was designed precisely to avoid that - to remove authority from the House and place it with the Cabinet Office and therefore the Prime Minister.
So why shouldn't this critical post be the Speaker's appointment? With teeth, through the Speaker, to suspend from the Commons MPs who have breached the most serious of our requirements for probity? It's time to give our watchdog some teeth.