Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser
When the MP’s expenses scandal broke in 2009 the UK public were quite rightly enraged. The level of virtually legalised theft from the public purse was horrendous. The process of switching or ‘flipping’ your designated second home to claim more expenses was endemic, with the then Chancellor Alistair Darling gaining the nickname ‘Flipper’ for his activities in this field. Over the course of expenses revelations it became apparent that some activities fell outside the description of merely exploiting loopholes and were in fact criminal acts. Labour’s Jim Devine was one of a handful who went to jail. Some MPs did the decent thing and resigned, but others simply clung on, vowing to stand down at the next election. This of course meant they would secure a generous parachute payment and protect their pension. What became more than obvious to many was that in most cases it was simply impossible to get rid of corrupt and criminal MPs other than by voting against them at a general election. In the wake of this parliament vowed to clean its act up, and promised all sorts of new legislation, most of which never saw the light of day.
One action that was mooted but was never delivered was the power of recall. This would give the electorate the power to sack poorly performing or criminal MPs between elections. This would appear to be popular with the public and common sense, so it’s no surprise that on 27th October many MPs voted against it. What people may find surprising is that Lanarkshire’s Labour MPs, Tom Clarke, Pamela Nash and Frank Roy all voted against this legislation. I cannot for the life of me comprehend why these MPs, supposedly socialists, supposedly representing the working class, would instead close ranks and vote to protect a system that is rotten to the core. This is the system which allows the likes of Eric Joyce to lurch from one drunken escapade to another, yet cling on to the bitter end to the expenses and status of being an MP. The people of Falkirk must wonder what they have done to deserve someone like Eric. Having been convicted for drink driving, and been exposed for his relationship with a schoolgirl, his only punishment politically has been to be expelled from the Labour Party. Do these people ever put the electorate first? Do they ever do what is morally right, not just what their party tells them to? To be successful as a Labour MP seems to be to follow the mantra of ‘Party, Personal, Patrons and Public’, in that order.
We are represented at Westminster by a political class so out of touch they have no concept of real life. We have Tom Clarke who had his office contact Ed Milliband to source an actual copy of the Vow made by Milliband, Cameron and Clegg, only to be told it was mocked up and didn’t actually exist, and who recently stated he would never have voted for a council tax freeze. Then we have Pamela Nash who vote for a Tory welfare cap knowing just how hard it would hammer her constituents.
So long as we are represented by people who are interested in their party first then the people of Airdrie and Coatbridge will be treated as second class citizens. Time and again it has been proven that loyalty by the electorate is never rewarded. Marginal seats are the ones where resources are poured into, and according to a recent BBC report Essex is where the next election will be won. Airdrie and Coatbridge don’t even figure on the radar and won’t unless we are willing to do something about it. Occasionally you have to give MPs the boot to get them to change their ways. With only seven months until the general election it’s time we put our current MPs under intense scrutiny, and websites such as What Do They Know which record all parliamentary activity are ideal for this. It’s time for all of us to carry out due diligence on Pamela Nash and Tom Clarke and see if they are fit for purpose beyond 2015. Their records speak for themselves.