Appalling errors of judgement


untitled (276)It is deplorable that any MP once elected, needs to accept donations from any donor, irrespective of the merits of their donation, outside of the costs of running their election campaign. That said there are real problems for our democracy that running election campaigns are exercises that demand large sums of money. However the issue of pay for serving MPs and the running of their offices is something that needs to be addressed if it is lacking, but it cannot be acceptable for MPs to make their own private arrangements. If an MP receives payment for work carried out during their term as an MP, they should be willing to declare themselves as a part time MP. There can be value in MPs using some of their time to work alongside others in the public, private or voluntary sector for short periods if it helps them to better understand how these sectors work. But once this extends into regular work for which they get paid, that needs to be declared in a clear and unambiguous manner, which goes beyond a register of interests, which their constituents have no choice about past the election. Inevitably some Professions and Trades demand that people, continue to carry out a minimum of hours of work, even when temporarily prevented from working full time such as during the term of a 5 year Parliament. The idea of an MP who is a GP or Architect or Lorry Driver etc. carrying out a number of hours work each year to retain their professional standards may be understandable to electors, however that should be made clear up front when they stand for election.

It is very disturbing that Emily Thornberry has received donations from any law firm, irrespective of its work practices, for providing additional staff in her office. That she accepted a donation of £14,500 from law firm Leigh Day & Co who it not turns out to have been sueing British soldiers is extremely embarrassing for the new shadow defence Minister, but the point is that she and her 649 colleagues should not have accepted any such donations. If MPs took no donations, they could not then be faced with such conflicts. However the MP who criticised Ms Thornberry during Prime Minister Questions is also someone who takes donations on a regular basis. His register of interests includes quarterly donations of £3,750 from LSL land and homes in Newcastle Upon Tyne (he is MP for Peterborough) for strategic advice on housing, planning and regeneration. That sum equates to the minimum wage, a sum that some people try to live off. In addition he also receives payment for his work as a lecturer in politics in Richmond University (the American International University) amounting to about £3,000 per year. These are not excessive sums, but they point to a focus far away from his supposedly full time role as an MP.

We need to clean up the whole of our Parliament from any form of conflict, not simply allow a few embarrassing individual cases be seen as isolated incidents.

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About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
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