An Extraordinary Scandal

The Westminster Expenses Crisis and Why It Still Matters

Emma Crewe,

An Extraordinary Scandal: The Westminster Expenses Crisis and Why It Still Matters
 
 
A parliamentary scandal that dominates the headlines. The resignation of major party figures. Commentators and citizens wondering if the British government—and the people’s faith in it—will survive. Before Brexit, another major crisis rocked the foundation of government in the country: the expenses scandal of 2009.

Featuring interviews with the members of parliament, journalists, and officials close to the center of the turmoil, An Extraordinary Scandal tells the story of what really happened. Andrew Walker, the tax expert who oversaw the parliamentary expenses system, and Emma Crewe, a social scientist specializing in the institutions of parliament, bring fascinating perspectives—from both inside and outside parliament—to this account. Far from attempting provide a defense of any the parties involved, An Extraordinary Scandal explains how the parliament fell out of step with the electorate and became a victim of its own remote institutional logic, growing to become at odds with an increasingly open, meritocratic society.

Charting the crisis from its 1990s origins—when Westminster began, too slowly, to respond to wider societal changes—to its aftermath in 2010, the authors examine how the scandal aggravated the developing crisis of trust between the British electorate and Westminster politicians that continues to this day. Their in-depth research reveals new insight into how the expenses scandal acted as a glimpse of what was to come, and they reveal where the scandal’s legacy can be traced in the new age of mistrust and outrage, in which politicians are often unfairly vulnerable to being charged in the court of public opinion by those they represent.


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