MP’s Expenses revelations – doing harm as well as good
I think it’s difficult to argue against the greater transparency that The Daily Telegraph’s revelations on MP’s expenses, and the publication today of expenses details by the Government, have brought and also will continue to bring. It seems clear that some MP’s were taking advantage of a very lax system.
There are downsides though. An MP’s basic salary is around £63,000 per year. A lot by many people’s standards, but for those working in Central London it’s certainly not a massive amount. Considerably less than most headteachers for example, in Inner London. They also have an unusual need to HAVE TO work in two different places. They need to work in their consituencies, and they need to work in Westminster. They also keep some of the strangest working hours known to mankind.
Bearing in mind that a Season Ticket by rail from around 40 miles from London costs around £4,000 and you start to realise that the expenses are going to be rather large however you do it – if they don’t have homes in two places they are going to need hotels – which may well cost more.
There’s also the hidden factor that many MP’s actually need a third home – because they are representing a consituency that they didn’t orginally live in – but are there because their party considers them worthy of a “safe” seat. I hear lots of people saying that this shouldn’t happen – and I can sympathise to a point – it’s nice to have someone local, but does that mean that a Labour Party activist from say Henley on Thames can never be Prime Minister ? or a Tory from Barnsley ? of course not – that would be ridiculous.
Last night I was fortunate to talk with a Conservative councillor – mainly about politics. I asked him casually if he’d considered standing for parliament, and was surprised at his answer. He had indeed considered this, and in fact had stood as a Conservative candidate more than once – losing narrowly each time. He’d now decided against it though – he felt that in the current climate, if he became an MP, due to the fact that he was not “independently wealthy”, then his family would be seriously disadvantaged financially.
Now bear in mind that this is a man who lives an a rather nice part of inner London, and may not be independently wealthy, but is certainly more independently wealthy than headteachers like me (in other words a sight more wealthy than most). His logistical difficulties would be less than those faced by most MPs.
Yet this issue alone has put him off standing again. And here’s someone who isn’t just being philosophical – he has a real chance of becoming an MP should he so wish, and he’s done his homework
This is a great shame.
Taken to it’s conclusions I can see a situation where only the rich and the foolish will endeavour to become MP’s. So I urge my readers to think about that before they go vilifying the next batch of MP’s to fall prey to the Telegraph.
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