May 28, 2009
Two more MP’s from the main parties have announced that they will not be seeking re-election. Julie Kirkbride MP, wife of Andrew Mackay (who made his decision to stand down a few days ago) and Margaret Moran, Labour MP for Luton South announced their decisions to stand down at the next election within minutes of each other.
Margaret Moran was one of the first MP’s exposed by the Telegraph and was facing an anti sleaze challenge from Esther Rantzen had she remained a candidate. In her statement she said that ‘it is very important that I make it absolutely clear that I have done nothing wrong or dishonest in relation to my claim for expenses and have at all times acted on advice from the House of Commons Fees Office in relation to my family home in Southampton.’ And in fairness to her the fees office has confirmed that the advice it gave ‘at the time was wrong.’
While the defence of Margaret Moran as well as most MP’s caught up in the expenses scandal is that they weren’t breaking any rules (which is probably true), they were certainly abusing the rules for personal benefit and once the detailed information was made public, the ‘expenses being justified’ defence was simply not one that was going to be accepted by the voters or in the media. The pressure being exerted on MP’s seen to be fiddling the system whether from their voters, the media and their Party leaders is immense and it seems highly likely that there will be many more MP’s leaving before the next election.
May 21, 2009
As well as Douglas Hogg, two more Tory MP’s will be stepping down at the next general election. Anthony Steen and Sir Peter Viggers having been exposed in the Telegraph for questionable expenses have rightly decided not to seek re-election. Any attempts by MP’s to cling on to their seats who have been exposed making outrageous claims for expenses only serve to damage the Conservative Party’s attempt to gain power at the next election. All such MP’s will be vulnerable to anti sleaze campaign by their opponents and seats that the party should be holding on to would undoubtedly be at risk.
The Labour Party or its MP’s have yet to take similar action though two of its MP’s have been suspended and my local MP Shahid Malik has resigned from his post as Justice Minister pending a full investigation into his expenses claims. The public mood is one of disgust and if any party or associations drag their feet and leave in place those MP’s who to voters look to have abused the system, then they should not be surprised if ‘independent’ candidates stand on anti-sleaze tickets against them and turn the election campaign into an ‘expenses’ campaign only.
David Cameron thankfully has grasped the public mood and is one step ahead of the Prime Minister in his response. It is incredible that there are MP’s still peddling the ‘I didn’t break any law/rule’ defence instead of showing any remorse and contrition. Yesterday I met a person who said that those MP’s making outrageous claims were thieves. I wouldn’t use the same language or express the same sentiments and each case has to be looked at on its own but this does show how angry people are feeling and how badly let down they feel by their representatives.
This scandal will no doubt rumble on and there will be many more MP’s who will stand down before the next election.
May 19, 2009
Douglas Hogg has announced that he is standing down as an MP and will not seek re-election in the constituency of Sleaford and North Hykeham after being exposed by the Telegraph for claiming the costs of clearing the moat at his country estate. I suspect he will be the first of many to stand down.
May 19, 2009
The expenses scandal which has embroiled MP’s from all political parties is likely to claim the House of Commons Speaker, Michael Martin as its next victim for gross mishandling of the expenses furore. This would be the first time in 300 years that the speaker has been forced out and is recognition by MP’s of the huge damage that has been done to parliamentary democracy and politics as a whole by their conduct in claiming unreasonable expenses. Hat Tip: Paul Waugh
UPDATE: Text of Michael Martin’s statement to the House of Commons at 14.30pm:
‘Since I came to this House 30 years ago I’ve always felt the House is at its best when it is united. In order that unity can be maintained, I have decided that I will relinquish the office of Speaker on Sunday June 21.
This will allow the House to proceed to elect a new Speaker on Monday June 22. That is all I have to say on this matter.’
May 12, 2009
Unemployment rose by 244,000 to 2.22 million in the first three months of the year which means that the jobless rate rose from 6.7% to 7.1%.
While our MP’s are embroiled in the expenses scandal, the UK economy continues to deteriorate.