wo stories this week made me reflect on how I’d intended to act if I was elected as an MP.
The first was the sad death of Charles Kennedy. A decent, humorous and above all human person, his life was cut short by the tragedy of alcoholism.
This seems to be almost an occupational hazard for MPs. Cut off from family and friends, with long days of sitting around waiting for votes if you are a backbencher, many MPs have gone down this path.
I had intended to deal with this by simply never drinking alcohol in Parliament. The Palace of Westminster is a place of work just like any other and you wouldn’t consider drinking in your office or factory.
The authorities need to take a serious look at reducing or even eliminating bars and rid our Parliament of its description as “the most exclusive drinking club in the world”.
The second story was about the proposed MPs’10% pay rise.
This was signalled long before the election and both Conservative and Labour had promised to legislate to stop it. It now looks like David Cameron is going back on that promise.
Being an old cynic I had thought this might happen so I had resolved that if I was elected I would refuse to take the pay rise.
This is in line with what we’ve done on the Borough Council where two independent reviews have said councillors’allowances should be increased but we have not implemented either of them.
This has nothing to do with the merits or otherwise of whether MPs or councillors deserve a pay rise.
Our doctors, nurses, teachers, police, council workers and civil servants have had zero, or below inflation, pay rises for years. Not because they don’t deserve higher pay but because we are told we can’t afford it.
If we can’t afford to pay more to them, then we can’t afford to pay MPs and councillors more.
If David Cameron won’t act then individual MPs should do the right thing and refuse to take the pay rise.