Disgraced former Labour minister and Rotherham MP Denis MacShane has been jailed for six months after admitting making bogus expense claims amounting to nearly £13,000.
The following mitigating factors were taken into account by the judge.
MacShane pleaded guilty.
He was of previous good character.
The money was paid pack.
The offences were not committed out of greed or personal profit.
MacShane suffered a long period of public humiliation and carried out the offences at a time of turmoil in his personal life which included:
Divorced from his wife.
Death of his daughter.
Death of his mother.
Death of his former partner’s mother.
Yet despite these strong mitigating factors MacShane was still sent to jail.
In Ireland, any one of these factors would probably have seen an Irish politician receive a full pardon, permission to keep the defrauded money plus a bonus and a massive vote increase in any subsequent election.
I say ‘probably’ because Irish politicians are, effectively, permitted to operate outside the law and therefore we never actually witness the application of justice when they defraud the state/taxpayer, as they regularly do.
In functional democracies where the legal/justice system operates independently of the political system we see judges make statements like the judge in MacShane’s case.
There was deliberate, oft repeated and prolonged dishonesty over a period of years involving a flagrant breach of trust and consequent damage to Parliament, with correspondingly reduced confidence in our priceless democratic system and the process by which it is implemented and we are governed.
Note the words: ‘Priceless democratic system’.
Irish politicians can plunder the state’s resources at will because our democratic system is worthless.