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Claire Job, Swansea Socialist Party
What has changed in the two decades since parliament's first 'cash for questions' scandal? 'Nothing at all,' is the answer. Former ministers Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind have been caught by reporters from Channel 4's Dispatches programme offering to sell the influence of their public position to a fictitious Chinese company.
Labour's Jack Straw said he "worked under the radar" when being paid to influence decision making on behalf of private business. His rate is apparently £5,000 a day!
Tory Malcolm Rifkind said he was "self-employed" and "had a lot of free time" when negotiating with the undercover reporter. This will come as a surprise to his Kensington constituents as he draws an annual MP's salary of £67,000 pounds paid for by all of us.
But Rifkind reckons MPs' pay is too low. He thinks it would mean "a substantial reduction" in some people's "standard of living"!
The Nolan commission review set seven standards for public life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. You'd have to look pretty hard to find even one of those qualities in many of our MPs. And there's no fundamental difference between Labour and the Tories - they're all in it for themselves.
This scandal is yet another example of how the parliamentary system is rotten. Corruption is as easy as ABC, leaving capitalism and the role of parliament starkly exposed.
These politicians are completely removed from the people they have been elected to represent - they may as well be in another universe. They have no idea of the problems that face ordinary working people on a day to day basis. Problems that are generated by their capitalist system, that punishes the poor in order to benefit the rich.
An MP is supposed to represent the people who elected them! They should not have any 'outside interests', directorships, advisory or consultative positions with big business. In fact they should receive a worker's wage in order to ensure they are in touch with the real world.
It is hardly surprising that working people have lost faith in politicians. Low turnout at the ballot box is a predictable consequence of the actions of MPs like Straw and Rifkind, which decay further the trust ordinary people have in the motives of politicians.
There is an alternative! The Socialist Party is part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) which is standing 100 parliamentary candidates in this year's elections. Socialist Party members, if elected, will only take an average worker's wage, donating the rest of the MP's salary back to the trade union and anti-austerity movement.
- See more at www.tusc.org.uk
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