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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 February 2008

Their hands in our till

MEMBERS OF Parliament are worried about their tarnished image. And they should be. After the furore over "dodgy donations" from big business came a series of scandals over MPs using the large expenses that they claim for personal, or family, gain.

Two Tory MPs, Ann and Nicholas Winterton, claimed 165,000 in Commons expenses for their 700,000 second home in London six years after they paid off the mortgage. They claimed this 'rent' and put it into a family trust for their two children, also ensuring a sizeable reduction in their children's inheritance tax.

Another Tory MP, Derek Conway, was suspended from parliament for ten days for paying his sons over 80,000 (from public money) as 'researchers' while they were full-time students and performed no visible research. Conway could see nothing wrong in what he did. "I am not a crook," he claimed.

Nobody denies that MPs are entitled to some expenses. But 170 MPs are paying family members for 'help'. Conway also paid his wife 291,616 over a seven-year period while she was working as his secretary.

Sir Christopher Kelly, chair of the public standards committee, hopes standards can be maintained by appeals for "greater openness and better monitoring of anti-sleaze regulations".

Socialists believe that being an MP should be an opportunity to represent people and not to feather their own nests. From 1983 to 1992 Dave Nellist, now leader of Coventry council's Socialist Party group, was a Labour MP.

He and two other MPs supporting Militant (the Socialist Party's predecessor) stood for parliament as a 'workers' MP on a worker's wage', receiving the average wage of the working-class people they represented and donating the rest to workers' campaigns and working-class appeals. All expenses were legitimate, reasonable and accountable to their constituents.

That meant these MPs were not insulated from the lives and hardships of other working-class families. Other MPs, in contrast, because they benefit financially from their position, can become very remote from the needs and problems of their constituents.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 6 February 2008:

MPs' insult to low-paid workers

Their hands in our till

Protests as multinational grabs health centre

Rich avoid paying 25 billion tax bill

Why they call them 'fat cats'


War and terrorism

Bush and Brown's Afghan strategy lies in tatters


Socialist Party women

Fight attacks on abortion rights


Socialist Party news and analysis

Victory! Bristol campaign saves library

Victory! Hull youth workers save jobs

Inspiring victory for Polish workers

Fighting the BNP in Barnsley

Shell output is down, but profits hit new record


Young workers and Students

Young workers get organised

Protest against university fees

Refreshing student work in Bangor

International Socialist Resistance website

Socialist Students website


Environment and socialism

Incinerators: Our health at risk!

Stop the Anglesey nuclear time-bomb


Socialist Party debate

How can an alternative to the main political parties be developed?


International socialist news and analysis

Kenya: Workers' movement must provide an alternative

France: LCR votes to launch a new party


Workplace news

Birmingham: Thousands on strike against pay cuts

Workplace news in brief


 

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