Friday 27th February
While there was some amusement to be had in watching the downfall of two pompous old M.P.s caught displaying their greed in such a ludicrous manner there is a far more serious issue at stake. Their defence, that they did nothing wrong, broke no rules, is almost as lamentable as the original offence. Because offensive it certainly was. £5000 a day !!!! When those on benefits are sanctioned for missing an appointment by five minutes and will receive NO money at all for two weeks!!!! You have to be incredibly thick-skinned (or a Tory) not to be offended. There have been numerous scandals involving our legislators, and the various compromises (voted on by those same legislators) have done little to re-establish trust in the minds of ordinary people.
Personally I would make being an M.P. a far more responsible job. It used to be the case, and Anthony Trollope writes most eloquently about Victorian times, that M.P.s were gentlemen, undoubtedly of private means and private interests who attended Parliament at their leisure and treated it as a Gentlemen’s club. Some Tories still see it as such. M.P.s must be paid a decent salary with NO allowances at all. Their pay would be related to their attendance (like the rest of us – you turn up for work and you get paid) and the cost of travel from their home could be factored into this attendance allowance. NO other paid work should be entertained; if they want to write a column for a newspaper – fine, but any pay should go to charity. NO directorships allowed at all. If they already owned businesses they must be administered by others during their time in Parliament, and they would be automatically disqualified from voting on any matters which might be affected by their ownership. When they leave Parliament they should also be paid a decent salary for at least five years and again be forbidden from any involvement in lobbying, or any Directorships, or indeed any contact with Ambassadors or public officials they might have known anywhere.
Draconian – yes. But unless we deal with this cancer of corruption we will never encourage people to trust our politicians or become one themselves. They must be seen to be doing their honest best for the public good or they must go. There seems to be no shortage of candidates whenever a seat becomes vacant. Maybe, just maybe Ed Milliband will have the courage to at least start this ball rolling. Maybe, but I doubt it.