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Why won’t they resign now?

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Retiring MPs set to rake in even more cash!

David Cameron the Conservative Leader admits that he is ashamed of the behaviour of some MPs and is calling for some of them to be prosecuted for fraud, particularly those who have claimed for mortgage interest payments on non existing mortgages, let’s face it if we behaved the same way we could well be facing a jail term for fraudulently abusing the system and gaining money by deception. Yet we have MPs who have done just this, and having been caught out by the Daily Telegraph’s campaign have wriggled and writhed in an attempt to defend themselves before succumbing to the reality that they are no longer wanted or welcomed in Parliament, at least 10 MPs could find themselves being investigated by Scotland Yard.

The Labour MP for Scunthorpe, Elliot Morley is the latest to announce his “retirement” from politics at the next general election:

“It is with regret that I have today informed the general committee of the Scunthorpe Constituency Labour Party and the Party General Secretary that I do not wish to contest this seat at the next election.”

But why wait this long to resign?

If we were able as constituents to hold a ballot recalling our MPs from the House of Commons to face a new election (let us say with 20% of the electorate being in favour) then perhaps we would feel rather more empowered, as Cameron proposed in his speech the other day. Simon Heffer (not a known Cameron sympathiser) says in the Telegraph:

I am interested in the idea of recall, to force an MP to stand for re-election during a parliament if a quorum of his constituents find him unsatisfactory. However, the only thing that will really make a difference is if selection committees in all parties stop picking second-rate people on the make to stand for Parliament, and instead choose those who express a vocation and have the means and integrity to pursue it.

Dave is also hamstrung by the autonomy of Conservative associations: he needs to discuss with certain chairmen in certain seats the wisdom of continuing with their present MP. But there is already something he can do to show he is back in control, and I would urge him to do it today. It is for the Chief Whip to tell those MPs who have agreed to stand down that they should do so now, and not at the next election.

This would not only stop them leeching off the country at once; it would put pressure on Gordon Brown to do the same. Those who have resigned have talked about doing it for the good of the party. A series of by-elections, which the Tories would probably win, would be very good for the party. Those who refuse to go now can have their reputations further trashed; those who don’t can begin their rehabilitation. It might even precipitate a general election. Go for it, Dave.

Of course, the big stumbling block to this argument is the built in advantages of the current system which will see numerous disgraced MPs benefiting even more at our expense by hanging around leeching from us until the next election is called. The severance package is pretty tasty and will encourage even more of them to defy the public mood until Gordon Brown calls up the courage to have an election to test himself against the nation.

MPs who stay on until the general election before stepping down or being voted out will be given up to a whole year’s salary of £64,766 after they leave.

The amount they are given will vary according to their age and how long they have served. All will receive between 50 and 100 per cent of the annual salary. The first £30,000 of this “resettlement grant” is tax free. In addition to this, all MPs who leave parliament are given a “winding-up allowance” of £40,799. This is given primarily in order to allow them to pay off their departing office staff, many of whom are spouses or relatives. It is also used to cover other costs associated with leaving office, such as terminating lease agreements.

All this comes in addition to a generous final salary pension scheme. MPs who have served 20 years can retire with a pension of about £30,000 a year.

So, I’d support Heffer’s proposal for Cameron to force the issue and have a series of damaging by elections (which may not result in Tory victories). I think the public would appreciate the opportunity to pass early judgement on some of those MPs who Cameron clearly thinks ought to be put in prison. Those who have gained the most in personal benefits at our expense ought to be amongst the first to be tested critically by the electorate and ought not to be allowed to hang around to pick up a huge paycheck next year. A programme of by elections may ultimately force Brown’s hand and debilitate Parliament, let’s face it the government has little else to do and it’s legislative programme is virtually dead in the water and hamstrung by the inabilty of the Whips to maintain Labour Party discipline and the absence of McBride cannot be helping Brown to maintain control over his affairs.

The sooner we have an election the better, much of the current House of Commons needs to be thoroughly cleaned, and if up to 300 of it’s current members fail to reappear in the next Parliament then so much the better, we can start real reforms with a fresh slate.

Only a general election can pave the way to clearing the air and disinfecting the political system.

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Written by curly

May 30, 2009 at 10:45 am

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  1. […] This post was Twitted by Curly15 – […]

    Twitted by Curly15

    May 31, 2009 at 6:34 am

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