Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/575/7159
MPs' snouts in the expenses trough
For workers' MPs on a worker's wage
EVERY DAY the press and TV carry stories of cabinet ministers 'on the make' and of MPs mimicking their political superiors' dubious ethics. And, they tell us, it is all perfectly legal.
Employment minister Tony McNulty, who is making draconian changes in Jobseekers' Allowance for unemployed people, has claimed £60,000 in 'second home' expenses for staying in his parents' homes. Home secretary Jacqui Smith made a similarly incredible expenses claim totalling £150,000.
Geoff Hoon, transport secretary, claimed expenses on his constituency home while renting out his London home and living in a 'grace and favour' home when he was defence secretary.
Now it is alleged that 65 MPs from all the main capitalist parties are claiming expenses for a second home while gaining income from renting out a third property. They have made about £6 million in this way since 2001. Many MPs, it seems, are not content with their £64,766 a year basic salary.
Labour MP Barbara Follett and her novelist husband are 'worth' about £15 million and own several homes worldwide. But she has claimed £126,952 in additional costs allowance (ACA) available to MPs for constituencies outside London since 2001. This included demanding over £1,600 for cleaning the windows at her Soho mansion.
Not surprisingly, she was one of 14 MPs who tried high-powered legal measures to prevent public scrutiny of MPs' expenses. Northern Ireland secretary Shaun Woodward claimed £138,546 despite being another multi-millionaire getting rent from properties worldwide.
These pillars of the House of 'Commons' behave like feudal aristocrats. Perks and privileges abound. Does all this matter? Surely questions such as the economic recession, or poverty in Britain or throughout the world are more vital?
But all these problems are products of the creaking, inefficient and unjust system of capitalism. Socialists are aiming to build a political alternative. As the recession grows deeper, more and more people will demand that politicians stand up for ordinary people. They will want a bailout for the workers, not the bankers.
No such alternative can be found in the great hydra-headed Labour/Tory/LibDem parliamentary monster, which worships capitalism and the millionaires. We need a new workers' party to stand up for the millions.
When this new party wins members of parliament, it will need to withstand the pressures from MPs who don't bother trying to get a better deal for workers. When MPs get lavish expenses for often imaginary second homes, what do they care if more and more people find it impossible to pay for their only one?
From 1983 to 1992, socialists Dave Nellist and the late Terry Fields and Pat Wall became MPs. They only accepted the average wage level of a skilled worker and the expenses needed to do their jobs, which were fully vetted by local trade unionists. All the rest was donated back to workers' causes locally, nationally and internationally.
No more 'grace and favour' ministers! No more extravagant expenses! Join the Socialist Party's fight for MPs living on a workers' wage.
Help build a new workers' party to take society out of the hands of the wealthy ruling class that has - together with the ruling classes internationally - failed the whole world.
In The Socialist 15 April 2009:
Stop the slaughter of Tamils
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party workplace news
Youth fight for jobs
Marxist analysis: history
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party campaigns
International socialist news and analysis