So Jacqui Smith had decided to resign. She joins a growing list of MPs and cabinet members who have said they will ‘stand down’ at the next general election. A few people have asked why the Home Secretary, along with the dozen or so others who have made similar announcements, won’t go now instead of waiting for a general election to be called.
The answer is, of course, the resettlement grant that all MPs are entitled to receive, but only if they leave at a general election. The resettlement grant is not to be sniffed at. It can be worth up to one years salary (£64,000) depending on their age and experience. It is also tax-free.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg is calling for the pay-off to be revoked for those standing down in the wake of expenses revelations and I agree with him.
Why should an MP, who has either been sacked or decides to step down, be rewarded with a large tax-free lump sum?
I’ve often been asked why I’m a Liberal Democrat – and my answer is always the same (if a little long). I believe in a fair and just society that fights crime but rewards honest, hardworking people with the services they need to live their lives. I could go on (perhaps another post later), but those core values that I and the Lib Dems share are shouting out to me over this issue.
We trusted our MPs. Some of them broke that trust. Those that did do not deserve a pay-off, a pat on the back and 12 months to find themselves another job. What use will these MPs be to their constituents during the interim period until they leave? No use at all. There is no incentive for them to work hard for their electorate – they’re guaranteed a nice fat salary no matter how useless they are.
The Liberal Democrat Take Back Power campaign promises to fully reform the expenses system (not the half-hearted attempt the Tories have in mind), give constituents the means to sack any MPs that have been suspended for misconduct as well as some other positive steps such as reforming the outdated House of Lords, reforming party funding so that the government can’t be ‘bought’ through party donations, introducing fixed term Parliaments, bringing in Proportional Representation so that each vote really does count and changing procedures to reduce executive power.
You can read more about it here at http://www.takebackpower.org/ where you can also sign the online petition.
Now is our best chance for decades to have a real say on how our country is governed – I urge everyone to seize that opportunity and send a clear message to Brown and his Labour buddies that we’ve had enough of them.