Monday, 23 February 2015

Mony a mickle

Today's big news story is of the two MPs who were secretly filmed discussing payment for using their influence for what they thought was a Hong Kong-based company.  Former Foreign Secretaries Jack Straw (Labour) and Malcolm Rifkind (Conservative) have both been suspended from their respective parliamentary parties and are being investigated.

I have to say that my first reaction on hearing about Malcolm Rifkind was to think 'Is he still an MP?  I thought he retired years ago'.  Well, as it turns out he seems to think he retired too, given that he says that he doesn't get a salary, something his constituents in Kensington and Chelsea might beg to differ about. He was recorded saying that
I am self-employed – so nobody pays me a salary. I have to earn my income.
The £67,000 a year plus expenses he gets from his position as an elected MP clearly just slipped his mind then.  Mind you, he thinks that expecting MPs to live on 'just £60,000 a year'is 'unrealistic'.  Well, yes, there are unrealistic expectations there, but I don't think it's the electorate who have them.  £60,000 a year would be a huge increase in income to a large percentage of the population.  Cry me a river Mr Rifkind.

Mr Rifkind also says he has plenty of free time, which he spends reading and walking.  Glad to hear his employer is quite lax then.  If I tried that, I'd get the boot pronto and would be down the Job Centre with no time off for good behaviour.

Mr Straw has taken a different approach and is employing the Scooby Doo defence - 'I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for you skillful journalists'.  He is mortified at having fallen into the trap apparently.  That is, he's embarrassed at having been caught.  He says he suspended himself from the parliamentary party, but one has a feeling it was a case of he fell before he was pushed.

Both Labour and the Conservatives did not need a scandal of this nature so close to a general election, and I think we can expect to see a lot of spin and noble speeches over the next few days about how Westminster is going to clean up its act, probably by insisting on a large pay increase for MPs to prevent this sort of thing.  You've got to pay suitable salaries to attract the best talent, they'll cry, shoving their snouts even further into the trough.

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