In the run up to the last General Election the reputation of MPs sank to its lowest level following the revelations about what some of them had been up to with their expenses, writes David Ellesmere, Labour's Parliamentary Candidate for Ipswich.
Tales of tax payer funded duck houses and moat cleaning just emphasised how out of touch some MPs were with the lives of ordinary people.
I’ve spoken to people who were MPs at the time who weren’t guilty of any wrongdoing. They say the effect on MPs who were caught out and the hatred directed against all politicians was absolutely devastating.
I’m sure that’s right but it appears that memories are short. You would have thought that anyone caught up in the aftermath of the expenses scandal would have vowed to be absolutely squeaky clean when it came to pay and allowances in future.
But no. Only last week, two more MPs were caught in a classic newspaper sting offering privileged access for cash.
Both MPs have been suspended by their parties and won’t stand again at the General Election. Good. But it’s clear that something needs to be done about MPs taking other jobs.
Some MPs self-interestedly argue that having a second or third job gives them “real world experience”. But it’s funny that this experience always seems to involve a highly paid directorship working a couple of days a month. It never involves a zero hours contract, minimum wage job stacking shelves at the local supermarket which is closer to the “real world” of most MPs constituents.
Labour have said that all Labour MPs after the next General Election will be banned from taking on paid directorships and consultancies.
And a Labour motion to ban MPs of all parties from taking these positions was debated in Parliament last week. Unfortunately, Government MPs - including Ipswich’s Ben Gummer - voted this down.
The Conservative Party doesn’t have any appetite to sort this out because by far and away the largest number of MPs with so-called “outside interests”are on the Conservative benches.
A Labour Government would ban paid directorships and consultancies and put a cap on second earnings.
I am prepared to go further.
Whatever the rules that are in place, if I am elected in May I will not take any other paid employments while I am an MP.
Being an MP is a full time job and Ipswich residents need to know that my full focus will be on representing them and our town.