Featuring interviews with the MPs, journalists and officials close to the centre of Britain’s biggest political crisis since the Profumo Affair, this is the story of what really happened during the expenses scandal of 2009. Andrew Walker, the tax expert who oversaw the parliamentary expenses system, and Emma Crewe, a social scientist specialising in the institutions of parliament, bring a fascinating insider/outsider perspective to this account. Far from an apologia, An Extraordinary Scandal: The Westminster Expenses Crisis and Why it Still Matters explains how parliament fell out of step with the electorate and became a victim of its own remote institutional logic, 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 gave us a taste of what was to come, and where its 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.
‘Although this happened quite some time ago, there is value in exploring these specific events in detail, and until Crewe and Walker’s book, this had not happened. There is still more to be said on the 2009 expenses scandal, but this book is an important brick in the wall.’ – The Constitution Unit Blog, UCL
‘For many academics and commentators the MPs expenses scandal was little more than the latest instalment in a historical litany of crises, failures and fiascos in British politics. Emma Crewe and Andrew Walker challenge this perspective in a magisterial and compelling account…’ – Matthew Flinders
‘… enviable insight and access to Members, journalists and officials, the book makes for a fascinating read.’ – Cristina Leston Bandeira
‘Written in an accessible and engaging style…’– Shirin M Rai, author of Performing Representation: Women Members in the Indian Parliament
‘Anyone looking for a balanced and thoughtful account of how the 2009 expenses crisis came about, and for why it still reverberates, should put themselves in the expert hands of Crewe and Walker.’ – David Natzler, former clerk to the House of Commons