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Distributed for Haus Publishing

An Extraordinary Scandal

The Westminster Expenses Crisis and Why It Still Matters

Distributed for Haus Publishing

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.

320 pages | 6 x 9

Political Science: Political and Social Theory

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"There are many gems in this rich book, but the most striking part of An Extraordinary Scandal is the emphasis Crewe and Walker place on the role of legislative governance—that is, the arrangements for the management of the Commons and the relationship between MPs and the institution."

LSE Review of Books

"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 that reveals exactly why the MPs expenses scandal was an extraordinary episode in British political history that continues to cast a long and dark shadow over parliament and politicians a decade later."

Matthew Flinders, University of Sheffield

"Anyone interested in British politics should read this book. This is not simply the story of a scandal, it is a very reflective, often personal, account of crumbling institutions that would eventually lead to the start of a shift in the Westminster culture of deference. Adopting a historical and anthropological approach, Crewe and Walker take the reader into a journey packed with detail and research, which explains why the scandal happened. With enviable insight and access to Members, journalists and officials, the book makes for a fascinating read."

Cristina Leston-Bandeira, University of Leeds

"Written in an accessible and engaging style, An Extraordinary Scandal not only takes us through the story of the UK parliament’s expenses scandal, but also makes an important political point: we dismiss our representatives and representative institutions at our peril! By situating the ‘scandal’ into a broader context of the financial crash, the digital revolution, the increase in MPs’ constituency work and the rise of the audit culture to discipline employees, Crewe and Walker point to the crisis of the politics of information that is important to understanding and engaging with all our political institutions, including parliament. This engagement, they show, does not have to be at the cost of dismissal of MPs, their work as our representatives and neither of parliament as the institution that holds the Executive to account. We need to go beyond seeking only villains and heroes – we need good representatives held to account and aspiring to do better; but we also need parliament as bulwark against a rampant Executive. This book does both and is therefore an important contribution to understanding our political institutions and those who inhabit them."

Shirin M Rai, author of 'Performing Representation: Women Members in the Indian Parliament'

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