Dr Hough’s lecture on political corruption was an excellent overview on a topic that personally, I did not know much about. He talked about the basics of corruption and what actions can be considered under this very broad blanket.
I found it very interesting when he talked about which countries were the most and least corrupt in the world. Unsurprisingly many politically unstable nations such as North Korea and Somalia were the least corrupt. Two of those who topped the corruption chart, Denmark and New Zealand, however did come as some surprise to me.
Initially I thought the wealthiest, most powerful nations such as Britain or America would be least corrupt as these governments appear to have such transparency. However with deeper investigation, it can be revealed that there have been examples of corruption.
One aspect which Dr Hough particularly focused upon was the expenses scandal in 2009 which created a serious dent in the UK government’s reputation. It was revealed by the Telegraph Group that a number of MPs were allegedly misusing the permitted allowances and expenses they could claim. This generated a huge public outcry at the time and similar allegations of misuse of expense allowances still cause a stir to this day; people furious that their taxes might be being exploited by some MPs for their personal benefit.
Some specific examples which were very controversial in 2009 were claims for a £1,600 floating duck house and £2,200 for cleaning a moat surrounding a 13th century second home.
The basic principle surrounding MP’s expenses is they can have two homes, one in their local constituency and the other situated in London for when they have meetings in parliament. They are legally allowed to spend tax payer’s money on maintaining a constituency residence and a residence in London in the state they were in when they first moved in.
So in view of this, why should moat cleaning be seen as wrong as it is simply maintaining the original state of the property? This was one of the main points discussed which I found very interesting and illustrates why political corruption is – at times – such a difficult topic to define explicitly.
Global corruption is a worldwide phenomenon and occurs in many different forms. Undoubtedly, corruption is much worse in some countries compared to others but no nation is free from this disease.