The MPs expenses stories keep coming and coming. It has reached the point now where politicians such as David Cameron and Gordon Brown see that they have to apologise for what has happened, although in both cases their statements seem to me to be a little bit hedged and equivocal.
Monday, 11 May 2009
The political classes are in an absolute mess of their own making now. They can argue until they are blue in the face that it was "within the rules" but the rules clearly stink and are obviously going to be radically changed anyway.
It is very dangerous for our political system to be in this sort of state and for the public to hold them all in such low esteem/contempt. There needs to be a strong gesture from MPs to show that they properly understand the depth of public feeling and that they are willing to make amends.
I think the only way for them to do this now is to pay back any money that breaches the spirit of the claim rules. I am not saying they have to pay everything back. Administatively this would be very difficult to adjudge. However each MP will have a good knowledge of what they have claimed for and in the light of the public reaction, they should be able to make a good fist of deciding what should be repaid. A good yardstick would be, if they had known at the time that it would have been made public, would they have claimed it. If not, they should repay it.
I think this should also extend to paying the captial gains tax on any second homes that have been "flipped" in order to avoid this. I know that within the inland revenue rules this is allowed but it looks absolutely dreadful. Law makers and legislators should be setting an example to the rest of us and should pay their fair share of taxes. Especially in the current economic climate.
So, I call upon all MPs of all parties to do the right thing. If MPs start doing this, they would get some credit from the electorate that they were doing the right thing and at least trying to make amends. It may start to drain the poison from the issue. I dread to think what will happen if there is not some strong gesture like this. I also call upon fellow bloggers to start pushing this and hopefully it will gain some traction with the MSM.
When John Prescott launched his "Give up the bonus" campaign against the bankers recently he was widely lauded for it. the message was simple, and so it is with this campaign.
"Pay it back".
UPDATE1: Have also launched it on Twitter (#Payitback). Follow me here: @MarkJThompson
UPDATE2: Constantly Furious has already promoted this campaign on his blog. Thanks to him for creating the image used at the top.