Not voting for Christmas to come early

by Stephen Tall on March 29, 2007

Yesterday, the House of Commons debated the ‘Communications Allowance’, a £10,000 a year public subsidy to be given to MPs to help them hold on to their seats improve their dialogue with their constituents.

Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson summed the arguments against the measure succinctly and well:

As a Member of Parliament, I believe that communication is incredibly important. As a former marketing manager, perhaps I know more than many the benefits of good communication. Those of us who oppose the allowance do not say that ensuring that we are in touch with our constituents, reporting back and making sure that people in our constituencies are engaged in politics are not important parts of a Member of Parliament’s job. Far from it. My problem is the cost that the taxpayer will incur. Through interventions, I have already expressed my disappointment that the communications allowance will cost an extra £6 million, with a perhaps an additional £1 million in increased postage costs. That means that the taxpayer must bear the brunt of an additional £7 million. … Some hon. Members may suggest that a forthcoming general election is a factor. I urge hon. Members to oppose the allowance.

Here’s the full roll-call of honour of those Lib Dem MPs who did oppose the allowance:

Baker, Norman; Barrett, John; Brooke, Annette; Bruce, rh Malcolm; Carmichael, Mr. Alistair; Clegg, Mr. Nick; Farron, Tim; Goldsworthy, Julia; Harris, Dr. Evan; Heath, Mr. David; Holmes, Paul; Horwood, Martin; Howarth, David; Hughes, Simon; Huhne, Chris; Laws, Mr. David; Leech, Mr. John; Öpik, Lembit; Rennie, Willie; Sanders, Mr. Adrian; Stunell, Andrew; Swinson, Jo; Taylor, Matthew; Webb, Steve.

The full list from the division lobby of ayes and noes is available here.

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What about the Lib Dems who voted for it?

by Parson Nicolas on March 29, 2007 at 3:18 pm. Reply #

Many of the Libs who supported were in marginals such as Lorely Burt in Solihull. Unprincipled stuff. Same goes for the two Tories who voted with the government.

by Praguetory on March 29, 2007 at 3:46 pm. Reply #

Unless I’ve missed something John Leech, Tim Farron and David Heath are hardly sitting on thumping safe majorities (all <1000)

by Anonymous on March 29, 2007 at 4:18 pm. Reply #

I applaud them anon. They are outnumbered by the likes of Lorely Burt, Tom Brake, Dan Rogerson, Mike Hancock, Paul Burstow, Susan Kramer, Don Foster and Nicholas Harvey all sitting on small majorities but voting for the legislation.

by Praguetory on March 29, 2007 at 5:06 pm. Reply #

Mmmm, anonymous 5:18pm. Leech is on 683 or thereabouts and there was a 6% swing away in local government elections in the area in 2006 and though the Fibs still held their seats.

But there was a shocking 12% swing away in Burnage which in GEs is an engine room of Labour voting – especially with a councillor there of a Lib Dem persuasion reported to Standards for an alleged Nazi-style salute in a mime comment on a speech from Labour’s respected Afzal Khan.

Clearly Leech should lose by 3000-4000 at least if such swings carry through, and this without a major buying back in for Labour from students and BME communities with the talented candidate Labour will be selecting this very afternoon.

But while Leech voted against a shoo-in that he will surely spend up in full if implemented. He has an advantage over other MPs. That is that he is prepared to use tax payers money for the purpose of backing local candidates and trying to reinforce and protect his troops on the ground.

For the second year in succession he has published an ill-timed “Parliamentary Report”.

This carries around SIX or SEVEN pictures of Lib Dem candidates (there are seven wards in the constituency). These include one on the COVER of the candidate in their greatest attack seat.

The photo includes pictures of patent Lib Dem campaigning material. And it is reproduced at around the same size and format in that candidate’s own very very glossy pamphlet.

This is clearing pushing the envelope or worse. Leech has also distributed this piece of party political propaganda OUTSIDE his current constituency boundaries (which he also did in 06 and with Xmas cards and excruciating Christmas homilies in 05 and 06).

This was highlighted last year in the MEN and I did think he was reported to the Sergeant at Arms, the Speaker and the Electoral Commission.

He certainly will be this time. Leech has also subsidised party political material with either his communication allowance or the cash from local Council Tax payers he is still drawing down as the stay away councillor for Chorlton Park – a ward STILL not included in the list of wards on his website banner – outrageous – by taking paid advertisements in Lib Dem papers.

In that case one called Manchester News which is rather trying to pass itself off as an independent thing by not including the Focus branding or trademark smudgy production values.

If you are so shameless that you will use public funds in these ways, including outside your patch, then you can afford to vote against something WHICH IS GOING TO BE PASSED ANYWAY.

Some “principles” these from Mr Leech. Sorry Councillor Leech. Sorry Councillor Leech MP. Sorry Councillor Leech MP, Shadow Mimicster for bicycle clips and leaves on the track.

I’ll be blogging this with links and illustration in a few days time – after the selection etc. Will come back and advise URL when I do.

by Chris Paul on March 31, 2007 at 8:07 am. Reply #

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