14 May 2009

The 'Age Of Austerity' For Tory MPs?

So senior Tories think it fair for the taxpayer to pay for their second homes, furnishing and travel, moats around their castles and fix pipes under their swimming pools, but not to fund social services and public transport for the rest of us. Apparently social services and teachers etc are a waste of money and we need 'efficiency savings' there, but the second home allowance is sacrosanct and necessary.

David Cameron is billed as 'Mr Clean' yet thinks it perfectly reasonable for the taxpayer to pay over £20,000 towards his mortgage on one of his £1m homes. How can we trust these Tories to be fair, when their own expenses seem to come first? None of these expenses will be paid back. This remember is on top of his £140,000 salary from the taxpayer.

David Cameron is transparently a Thatcherite and party tribalist, all of his calls for efficiency for MPs are shallow party political advantage.

Cut the number of MPs to 'save money' he says - it has nothing to do with the fact that larger constituencies will win the Tories more seats, of course not. And where is the efficiency in deciding that adminstrative and geographical boundaries do not matter when deciding where to draw these arbitrary constituencies? This will be more costly, but of course it will result in more Tories being elected so it must be good. So much for the 'constituency link'. Under the Tories the electorate will be even more confused as to who they are voting for. Most are hearing the names of their MPs for the first time by hearing about their fraudulent and extravagant expenses claims.

Now he calls for the communication budget of £10,000 a year (less than 30p per constituent) to be cut - well he would wouldn't he? With Lord Ashcroft pumping millions into the marginals and the Tories owning the local press, they don't have to worry about not being heard by their constituents.

Add in the scrapping of impartiality rules for the broadcast media that Cameron will bring in and it all makes sense - even more Thatcherite broadcasters in the Daily Mail and Rupert Murdoch mode will suit the Tories very well.

In the midst of all this scandal, the good MPs, Celia Barlow in Hove and Martin Salter in Reading who claim not a penny in second homes are overlooked. Both of these MPs are in severe danger of losing their marginal seats, yet Tory Douglas Hogg and his moat are, ahem, 'safe as houses' in their safe seats. Why? Because disgusted as they are, people cannot bring themselves to vote against their party - especially Tories who will vote blue till the cows come home no matter what - even as the expenses ring loudly in the till for their piggish MPs.

It is a pity these expense details only go back 4 years - it would be very illuminating to hear what the Thatcherite Tory ministers were claiming in the 1980s and early 90s. Remember Thatcher brought in these allowances in the 80s, along with cuts to benefits and wages for the masses.

Just as Thatcherite and Majorite sex scandals put paid to MPs supposed moral authority over our private lives, New Labour's excesses have finished off any moral integrity these fraudulent Ministers and MPs should have over our financial affairs. How can these crooks lecture benefit fraudsters or tax avoiders and have any integrity when they are doing just the same themselves - except they can do it without fear of prosecution. We are in desperate times and as long as most MPs reside in safe seats and can gerrymander their boundaries they know they are safe. The people need to rise up and demand the removal of these MPs, the party pull is too deep to break and the disaffected non-voters can be safely ignored. We need PR and we need people selected by lottery in the house to keep these public school boys and girls in check.

What this expenses scandal has shown is that upper class and middle class people can be just as immoral as anyone else. I am not shocked, but it seems a lot of us are. The next step is to do something about it. Sadly people are being mis-directed to what the problem is, which is a lack of democracy in how we elect our MPs, not a mere change of expenses rules that is needed.

No longer can the right claim that excessive wages in the private sector do not matter (as they did when the Thatcherites deregulated and got us into this depression). Yes we need to reduce inequality in the public sector and increase efficiency, but we also need to open up the books of private companies - as the banking sector has shown, the public either as taxpayers, consumers or both, have to pick up the bill for these excessive wages, bonuses and expenses. The people need equal votes, only then will they have the power to stop the top people taking the piss with our money.

6 comments:

  1. Sorry the size of this reply has got slightly out of control:

    "it has nothing to do with the fact that larger constituencies will win the Tories more seats"

    Labour have had the chance to re-draw the boundaries but put that off because they would lose their significant advantage under the present set up. Its far too late to cry foul.

    "Now he calls for the communication budget of £10,000 a year (less than 30p per constituent) to be cut"

    The CB has been grossely missused. To be honest I can't think of any examples where it has been anything other than an "Hurrah I am a wonderful MP!" rag. Its another incumbancy advantage and should be disposed with asap.

    "scrapping of impartiality rules for the broadcast media"

    At least the BBC could then be openly biased, I'm sure they suffer for their sophistry at the moment.

    "especially Tories who will vote blue till the cows come home no matter what"

    Aren't you still a Labour voter Neil? Pot, meet kettle, kettle this is pot.

    "No longer can the right claim that excessive wages in the private sector do not matter (as they did when the Thatcherites deregulated and got us into this depression)."

    Private sector wages are up to the owners of the company. Now that shareholders have woken up to the rediculous packages that some had I don't see the need for government intervention. As for the bit in brackets, no wonder you hate Thatcher, anything you don't like is chucked into that catagory regardless of fit. Brown is terrible but he isn't a Thatcherite.

    "we also need to open up the books of private companies - as the banking sector has shown, the public either as taxpayers, consumers or both, have to pick up the bill for these excessive wages"

    There is no good case for opening up the books of private companies to all and sundry. The shareholders already have access and no one else needs it. Re the banks, Brown should have made it very clear that the government would never step in to save a bank, (distinct from guarenteeing peoples savings if a bank is wound down), rather than encouraging mergers at every step. Brown created the situation where banks became too big to fail because he gave them an implied guarentee.

    On the expenses scandal - I think that electoral reform is a separate issue. It may help but publishing all expenses immediately and online will be a powerful way to keep corruption at bay. Another step I hope to see is the prosecution for fraud or obtaining money by deception, (both sides of the house), pour encourager les autres.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Falco - we need to bring democracy to the workplace. Rightwing philosophy is all about choice for those who can afford it - whereas left-wing philosophy should be about choice for all, regardless of wealth. The left sometimes fail in this onjective but at least they are facing in the desired direction.

    Shareholders are always outvoted by their lack of wealth. The bosses of the big corporations vote for each others salaries against the majority of shareholders wishes.

    As for being tribal, I have said many times, I care not a jot about the Labour party, just results. If another party was electable that could move me towards what I wanted I would vote for then instead. I have always supported PR and it was in the Labour manifesto in 1997 it is not something Labour or me are crying about at the last minute. I would also refer you to my latest post on the Euro elections to determine how tribal I am.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Neil

    1. Martin Salter is not at risk of losing his seat 'cause he's cut and run.

    2. Whilst he may not have claimed any allowances since they were published in 2001 he did claim about £1,000 a month for a London flat he did not have between 1997 and 2001. He went fishing in India with the proceeds and told his chum, Mike Robinson who accompanied him, in a bragging way about the source of the money for the trip.

    ReplyDelete
  4. flashingblade

    1. I am behind the times, I did not realise he had announced his decision to step down in February - I think he has been on the right side of many arguments, so I am sad to see him go.

    2. And how do you know this?

    ReplyDelete
  5. "left-wing philosophy should be about choice for all, regardless of wealth."

    Where as what it always is, is lack of any choice, regardless of wealth or anything else.

    "we need to bring democracy to the workplace."

    Why? It sounds like a very bad idea.

    "Shareholders are always outvoted by their lack of wealth."

    Not so. The shareholders, as the name suggests, are the ones who own the company's wealth. If the majority of shareholders demand something the bosses can only comply or leave.

    As for the tribalism, I believe your explanation but what makes you think that its any different for those on the other side? Its a bit rich to condemn people who may well be doing exactly the same thing as you but with a different aim.

    ReplyDelete
  6. falco, you can have a million shareholders and they are outvoted by one person.

    ReplyDelete