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From The Socialist newspaper, 3 November 2009

We want workers' MPs on a worker's wage

PITY THOSE poor hardworking, low-paid MPs! The independent auditor, Sir Thomas Legg, has been reporting on some of the expenses claims made by MPs on second houses.

Kevin Parslow

Former home secretary Jacqui Smith and former employment minister Tony McNulty have both been forced to apologise to the House of Commons for their exaggerated expenses.

They, and others, are being forced to pay back tens of thousands of pounds on claims which, having set the rules themselves, MPs then proceeded to bend.

However, they have been treated lightly: McNulty will pay back nearly 14,000 but keeps another 60,000 he claimed even though his second 'home' was just eight miles from his main one!

In reality, it is the public's anger over MPs' expenses, not an 'independent' auditor, which is forcing these MPs to pay back their ill-gotten gains.

Some of the worst offenders have already been forced to pledge to stand down and many others are already in the tumbrels on their way to the guillotine of a general election defeat.

But let's not be too sad about this. Remember, MPs have a 66,000 basic wage before their lavish expenses. This is way in excess of most voters and puts them in the top 10% of wage earners in Britain. And they get an extremely generous redundancy and pensions package if defeated.

Kelly report

The report of Sir Christopher Kelly to be published on 4 November is likely to recommend ending second homes mortgage allowance for all MPs, forcing MPs to rent rather than buy second homes in London and telling MPs living within an hour's public transport of London that they will have no allowance at all.

Perhaps now MPs who voted for privatisation and failed to improve the creaking transport infrastructure will think again when they have to catch crowded trains home every night! MPs may also no longer be able to employ family members on their staff.

Many MPs have 'suppressed rage', according to The Guardian, at these proposed reforms. But their rage is nothing compared to the mood of ordinary people. Sadly, those facing political execution next year are likely to be replaced by other pro-capitalist candidates.

MPs claim that these reforms (which may yet be watered down) will put people off standing as parliamentary candidates. Good! If some of this so-called 'political class' are dissuaded, we say go now!

A recent report showed that only 7% of current MPs have a manual worker background. What we need is a party that will put forward socialist policies and stand working-class candidates, who will only take a worker's wage. Only then will most voters truly get MPs they deserve.

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