Facing down the PM in Parliament that day had two results
firstly the politicians knew they had to be wary of Marjory and secondly, the
knives were out. They were being caressed in pockets and secreted behind backs
but they were definitely out.
There was no way that they, the elected representatives of the
people, were going to be told what to do or how to act by a dinner lady. Hers
was a toy role, built by the state to entertain the people. Theirs was the real
role, the one that ran the state, kept the country safe, children off the
street and put food in mouths.
Politicians are a patient lot in many ways and for the first
seven months of her tenure, they gave Marjory the room to develop her ideas.
They allowed her little initiatives such as tax rebates for special needs
teachers and the ban on sale of sweets and soft drinks on school premises to go
through. These were harmless enough and could be used to show the government
had a true and deep concern about the things that matter to the
With these victories, Marjorys confidence grew and she
became more certain than ever that she had what it took to not only make a
success of the role but more importantly, she believed she had the measure of
She didnt like their haughty attitude, their sly
slithering around the issues, the silky tongue of the PM and the patronising,
paternalistic tone they used when addressing her or the public.
She felt she knew what they were about, what their motivations
really were. As she spent more and more time in Westminster, she could see that
what was intended to be the venue where the elected representatives had brought
the views of constituents to be considered and implemented by the state, had
become a country club for a self-appointed elite.
They looked and acted like an entirely new class of people,
separate from the population at large. As far as she could tell, the
politicians did very little that actually mattered and spent most of their time
justifying their jobs and dreaming up new ways to make them appear engaged with
and representative of the people.
In part she was surprised by this but equally, it made her
angry. She felt she and people like her had been taken for fools and she was
right. They had and with that came a feeling of impotency. But she knew she was
in a privileged position and had the opportunity to try to make changes that
mattered, to challenge the complacency of this elected elite and to display the
anger of the people at the ineptitude and entitlement of those who were
supposed to represent them.
And she saw the perfect occasion to communicate this outrage
when one of the national papers broke a story revealing that a great many
politicians had been fiddling their expenses. In other words, they had been
robbing the electorate.
In common with most of the nationals, The Daily Post had not
uncovered the scandal through journalistic endeavour but had been leaked the
expenses submissions of every MP in the land. There were many obvious sources
of that leak but it has never been definitively proven from where it
originated. In common with most big scandals, it started with the naming of a
couple of ministers who were duly thrown to the wolves in a bid to protect the
wider family it was, of course, the doings of a few bad apples and what
walk of life doesnt have a few of them?
But as the days passed with more and more MPs financial
transgressions being revealed, it soon became clear that rather than a few bad
apples, the manipulation of expenses was endemic and as the press gleefully
pointed out, revealed the rotten core of our political structures.
What started as a trickle of individual revelations of fraud,
soon became a flood. The full list is too extensive to recount here but to give
you an idea of what the politicians had been up to.
Tugeridge, MP for Aldershot several claims came under scrutiny including
plastic surgery for his wife to correct a drooping left eyelid, a kitchen refit
for both his constituency home and his London flat and the purchase of 18
Saville Row suits for his Parliamentary attendances
· Tristram Taylor,
MP for Bexhill and Battle was found to have claimed several family
holidays (all of which exceeded £20,000 in cost) on expenses under the
guise of research trips to inform his role as Minister of Social Housing
Earnshaw, MP for Somerton and Frome claimed for two executive
canine villas complete with automated post-faecal discharge
· Roger Whitstable,
MP for Wantage managed to claim for regular appointments with
prostitutes, male and female. He was subsequently charged with committing acts
of paedophilia but received only a conditional discharge
There were many, many more examples (85% of members of the House
were found to have committed expenses fraud of some form or another) but the
above gives you a flavour of not only the range of fraud that was perpetrated
but the audacity of some of the claims.
And as the accusations were made and the politicians ducked from
the onslaught of the press and the public, Marjory, as disgusted at their
behaviour as the rest of the country, felt it was her duty to hold the
politicians to account, to atone for their behaviour and to accept that it was,
at best, utterly disgusting and inexcusable.
Her next session in the Commons fell two and a half weeks after
the scandal broke and she felt good about this one. Very good.
How dare you address the House in this manner?!! Just who
on earth do you think you are? A dinner lady, talking to us, the elected
representatives of this Kingdom, in such a manner. Shame on us? Shame on you I
Order, order! shouted the Speaker of the House as
yelps, shouting, foaming and swearing swept through the building, up the rows
of seats, off the back wall and down again to where Marjory stood, resolute
and, it appeared, utterly calm. Around her was a sweeping mass of arms,
gesticulations and brandished fists. Among the chaos, thin, willowy pieces of
paper floated and danced around, oblivious to their surroundings, gently
settling here and there ultimately trampled under the furious feet.
Marjory had just told the politicians what she thought of the
expenses scandal and those that had perpetrated it. She had described them as
craven and morally repugnant; as having taken the entire electorate for a ride;
as having undermined the very basis of democracy in the country; and finally,
implored them to recognise that they were not worthy of the people who had
placed them in their roles of extreme privilege.
Order, order! I demand order in the House, the
speaker shouted above the din. He smashed his gavel furiously on the wood in an
attempt to be heard. It was not until the Prime Minister himself rose that calm
started to work its way into proceedings.
As he rose, calls for Marjory to be removed could be heard among
shouts of the affront of that woman and other more extreme demands
for her to be strung up like the mangy old dog she is.
Come now, come, soothed the PM. We are all
here together for the greater good and petty name calling and some of the more
extreme absurdities we have heard here today have no place in our great
He rose to his full height, placed both hands on the lectern and
faced Marjory across the room.
Marjory. May I begin by apologising for some of the more
extreme language you may have heard from the honourable members of the house
but as you can see, emotions are running high and tempers are keeping pace with
That however, is no excuse and I ask you to accept my
apologies on behalf of my esteemed colleagues. You are simply doing your job
Marjory in communicating to us how the electorate feel and I commend you for
your bravery and honesty in doing so today.
Marjory, standing firm in her defensive element, simply held the
PMs gaze, her eyes encouraging him to continue, communicating that she
had not and would not back down in the face of the PMs flattery.
One of the defining characteristics of the people of this
nation is honesty. We are a forthright, tell it as it is, kind of people and we
are admired across the globe for this, continued the PM, head down.
But what we are not known for, he said, raising his
head to meet Marjorys eyes, is rudeness. That is the preserve of
our friends on the Continent!
This secured a small laugh from the House, the humour only
slightly salving the still fresh wounds inflicted by Marjorys words.
And Marjory, as much as I admire the guts you have shown
today, that British fighting spirit, I must confess that I think in making your
comments to and about the members of this House, you have overstepped the
I have overstepped the mark?!! I have? It is you and your
cohorts that have been fleecing the people you claim to love so much. Ive
not taken a single penny beyond my salary for this job which is a damn sight
more than can be said for the lot of you, she replied sweeping her hand
across the room.
Marjory, Marjory dearest ... started the PM.
Dont refer to me as dearest, she retorted,
with the emphasis firmly on the DONT.
My apologies, Marjory, plain old Marjory, the PM
began. The process we are going through just now, in reforming the
expenses system and removing the areas of doubt and replacing them with a much
more robust system, one that is easier to understand and stay within the rules
of, is what we are discussing here.
It is not, if I may say so, your privilege to comment upon
the morality or otherwise of the members of this House. That is for us as
members to decide. Nobody else.
I beg your pardon? Marjory was incredulous at this
last statement and the words hardly made it out of her mouth. Am I right
in thinking that you are saying you lot are not to be judged by the people but
by yourselves? Is that what you are actually saying to me?
Yes, Marjory, it is. That is why we have this House, these
representatives. If everyone in the land had an equal voice and an equal say,
all sense would be drowned out of discussion. Nothing would get done. That is
why we are here, serving the people and ensuring that in all the noise, we can
distil some sense, guide this great nation on to even greater achievements.
It wouldnt make sense for us to be judged by
ordinary people. We, like anyone else in the country, should be judged by our
peers. Which is why I have announced this wide ranging review into the expenses
structure to make sure that the mistakes that our friends in the press have
recently highlighted, cant happen again.
As much as anyone else we want to make sure that mistakes
dont happen and that the system is fair and proportionate and that
members are properly reimbursed for their expenses. That is only fair and right
and Im sure you would not disagree with that would you Marjory? Would
Look, I understand what my role is, Im not stupid. I
am here to make you lot look good, like you are listening to the people,
Marjory began, shifting on her feet slightly.
And I accepted that and continue to do so but what I will
NOT accept is you taking the electorate, my friends and neighbours, everyone
who lives in the UK, for mugs. What you describe as mistakes are very clear
examples of brazen theft and total dishonesty and for you to attempt to dress
them up as mistakes is taking the dishonesty to a whole new
Cries of shame, sit down woman,
put her back in her box! rolled down from the galleries.
The PM, without looking behind him, raised his right hand to
still the noise. The House responded obediently.
Now Marjory, DEAREST. I, and the rest of this House, have
been nothing but accommodating, welcoming and supportive since you started. We
have gone out of our way to help you better navigate your way through the
political pathways of power and we have listened intently to the words that you
bring back from your visits to the regions.
But I, and I believe I speak for the House when I say
this, will not stand for your open but baseless accusations which openly
contest our collective integrity. Your role is very important Marjory, I of
course accept that, but you must understand the limits of that role.
It is not for you to pre-empt the investigation that we
have instigated and it is not for you throw around accusations of dishonesty
without a shred of evidence. I must reluctantly admonish you for your
behaviour. It is frankly unacceptable and will not be tolerated in THIS
Again the galleries erupted with cries of hear hear
and sit down woman. Marjory remained steadfast, she didnt
move a muscle this time.
Admonish me all you will Prime Minister but all I am is a
conduit to the country, that place you call the regions, where power does, or
if truth be told, should lie. All I am doing is telling you what the people
think so if you admonish me, you admonish the people and that, if I can be so
bold to say, is a dangerous place for any politician to find themselves.
Listen to this! Now she IS the people came a cry
from the increasingly raucous galleries. Shes heading for a
dictatorship at this rate shouted another among the increasing crescendo
of bile pouring down on Marjory.
Once again the PM raised his right hand without breaking eye
contact with Marjory. Once again, the House fell silent.
I do not agree with some of language that is being used
here but I must agree with the sentiment Marjory. You have been appointed by a
gameshow. We have been elected by the people. Your remit is clear you
are to go to the people and come back to us with your report. That is it. No
more than that. You are NOT and never will BE the people.
That is impossible. The closest to that is the collective
you see here today. They are the elected representatives of the people and they
speak for the people. NOT you! I hope I have made myself clear on this
matter, the PM barked and with a flourish and to great applause, once
more took his seat. Again, he held Marjorys eye as he did so. Back slaps
all round for the PM.
Marjory attempted to reply but was cut off by the Speaker:
Time ladies and gentlemen. The days proceedings are at an end.
Thankyou all for your contributions to what has been a rather lively debate!
Marjory, you may now leave the House until your next scheduled appearance which
I believe is one month from now.
What? Thats it? But ... Marjory started before
once again being interrupted by the Speaker.
The proceedings for today are at an end, he repeated
as the House quickly emptied and the PM was surrounded by well-wishers
delivering their sycophantic plaudits. As the House emptied Marjory stood
alone. I watched her from the entrance of the chamber. She was swaying
slightly, head bowed. I toyed with the idea of approaching her. To do what?
Console her? Let her know she was not alone? I could have done but instead I
avoided her, left her thinking that she faced an insurmountable task to
find the humanity in the politicians. To bring them back to their true purpose.
I left her alone, completely alone and it was not until I saw the newspaper
headlines a week later that I understood just how alone she really was at that
And equally it was not until those same headlines that I
understood how far this Mafia would go to protect their interests. They had
been challenged openly and on their own turf and Marjory would pay dearly for