- oD 50.50
About Peter Oborne
Peter Oborne is the former chief political commentator of the Telegraph and reports for Channel 4's Dispatches and Unreported World. He has written a number of books identifying the power structures that lurk behind political discourse, including The Triumph of the Political Class. He is a regular on BBC programmes Any Questions and Question Time and often presents Week in Westminster. He was voted Columnist of the Year at the Press Awards in 2013.
Articles by Peter Oborne
Through the bars
No to TTIP
Meteoric rise of Islamic State
Charlie Hebdo attack
Yemen - easy to get wrong
This is the first of a series of responses to Anthony Barnett's post on the possible strategies for democrats post-expenses.
Anthony is correct to say that the political system is broken, that the expenses scandal is a manifestation of this, that trust in politics is now smashed, and that the Political Class nevertheless believes that the situation has returned to normal ie the ‘mixture of top down controls and populist manipulation serviced by a venal political elite' described by Anthony. But I would go further than this analysis and add that unless we remedy the structural crisis at the heart of our public life some kind of political accident will take place - the Westminster equivalent of Black Wednesday in the City. This may be a return to the violent, extra-parliamentary politics of the 18th century, accompanied by a near total collapse of traditional liberalism and the emergence of a hard, populist right.
The mission to mend our politics is therefore commendable and urgent. I also agree with Anthony's prescription - reengagement with civil society, honesty, independence, accountability. He then deals with a host of competing objectives. My feeling is that all our energies should focus on one objective only: parliament, cleaning it up and making it more democratic. There is nothing peripheral about parliament: it has always been at the heart of British freedom, democracy and governance.
That doesn't mean that we can't do the other things - ie an online force for change such as Move-on (though when I examined Move-on during the Kerry campaign five years ago it had certain rather sinister aspects). But they should be all directed to the same place - ie parliament. It is also obvious that all these extra-parliamentary organisations - 38 degrees, Real Change, openDemocracy have to work together if they are to be significant and produce massive change.
Peter Oborne (London, Daily Mail): James Jones and I were apprehended by a policeman and prevented from distributing our pamphlet Muslims Under Seige (opens as pdf) to MPs outside Portcullis House. We were told that a formal complaint had been levelled against us by Barry Sheerman MP. Charles Clarke told us that our behavious was ‘embarrassing’. When I objected and said that handing out political literature was surely what Parliament was all about, this met with short shrift, and we were moved on.