Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Vote - or abstain?

For the first time in my life, I am considering not voting at the next General Election. If I do vote, I shall vote Conservative. However, it depends very much on the actions of David Cameron in cleaning up his own party.

We've known for a long time that the present sordid Government has done immense damage to this country and should demit office as soon as possible. They deserved it to happen as a result of lying about wars and destroying our economy: that it is now reduced to claims about tampons, toilet seats and jars of jellied eels perhaps sums up better the despicable, sewer level that politics has reached.

However, it is important that the Tories show they are better than this. Cameron has to sack a lot of people. It will take courage, but it will pay dividends electorally, as well as showing that he really does believe in improving politics. The appropriately-named Hogg, claiming for his housekeeper, even if he didn't actually claim for the moat cleaning. Moat cleaning? What planet do these people live on?

John Gummer claimed for a mole man; Alan Duncan claimed thousands for gardening; Michael Ancram claimed to have the boiler on his swimming pool serviced.

Most of the people being fingered by the Telegraph are has-beens or nonentities. Michael Gove, Chris Grayling and Alan Duncan would be sad losses from the Shadow Cabinet, but it has to happen. Maude, Gummer, Hogg and James Gray would be no loss at all to Parliament, in my humble opinion. I want to see Cameron withdrawing the party whip from them and preventing them standing at the next election.

Weasel words about the system being defective are not enough. If people do not instinctively know what is an appropriate use of taxpayers' money, then their lack of judgement should be sufficient to prevent them being selected as candidates. The 'defective system' requires that MPs seek 'best value' for the taxpayer and that claims should not be excessive or 'luxurious', whilst being necessarily incurred in the course of their duties. Even if those were the only rules, a very basic level of common sense would tell our MPs that hiring gardeners, housekeepers and mole men, let alone ordering horse manure, or fixing their swimming pool should be excluded.

Two MPs have, I think, been unfairly caught up in this. David Willetts hired an electrician for £100 - I don't have a problem with that. If 25 light bulbs had blown, there was obviously a problem with his electrics and he had to get it seen to. Oliver Letwin had a leaking pipe which needed fixed. The fact that it ran underneath his tennis courts is irrelevant - he got the pipe fixed.

I want to see Cameron ending Parliamentary careers before I cast my vote again.

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