Monday, 8 November 2010

Thick as thieves these MPs

(Northern Voices understands Michael Meacher - here seen cavorting with bikini-clad young women and a shark (below), Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton, shares an office with Phil Woolas, the disqualified Oldham East Labour MP found guilty last Friday of lying about his Lib Dem opponent, Elwyn Watkins, at the General Election in May. Hence, it may well be that the current dodgy predicament of Mr Woolas may have a knock-on effect on the office running costs for Mr Meacher and that his concern for the plight of the staff may not be totally disinterested. Our readers must judge for themselves on the wisdom of Mr Meacher's remarks [extracted from Meacher's blog] below on behalf of his colleague Mr Woolas.)

'Of course MPs should tell the truth. It is not for me to determine whether or not my colleague Phil Woolas did so now that the court has reached its decision. I do however believe that he has been treated harshly, and that some of his traducers should take a wider look at this whole question of truth-telling because it could open up other embarrassing revelations. It has always been a good principle: let him who is innocent cast the first stone. I don’t of course have details of any other specific case, but it would certainly be surprising if among the other 649 MPs there was not a single instance where a Member had not strayed beyond the limits of truth and honesty in portraying a political opponent in an election.

'This is unlikely to be an isolated case – indeed the only reason why this case came to light in the first place is that Elwyn Watkins, the LibDem candidate, had the resources to bring it. He works for an Arab sheikh in the Middle East, so money was no object. Indeed, in the course of the one-week election court proceedings it appears that Watkins himself admitted that he had spent some £200,000 on the election, which is 7 times above the maximum permitted limit.

'Nor have Phil Woolas’ employees been treated fairly when they themselves cannot in any way be held responsible. They have been told by IPSA that their employment contracts terminated at 11am on Friday when the court gave its judgement. That would seem illegal by excluding the statutory period of notice, and it also means they will no longer be available for completing the constituency caseload even up till the judicial review in a fortnight, let alone till the by-election. Worse still, IPSA are now demanding that Phil Woolas pay back all his office expenses and staff expenses since the election in May, which could amount to some £70,000. This is gratuitously punitive and unfair when the money was used in good faith and for the benefit of the constituency, not the MP himself.

'But there are deeper questions about truth-telling raised by this episode. What about those MPs, including some on the Front-Bench of all three parties, who flipped the designation of their homes saying that first one house and then another was their second home when they knew that one or other statement wasn’t true? The cost the taxpayer in some cases tens of thousands of pounds, yet have never been brought to book. What about Nick Clegg (and he’s far from the only one) who solemnly declared he would abolish tuition fees and then voted to treble them? Or is it all right to lie to the electorate to win votes so long as you don’t lie about your political opponent to win votes? How about a right of recall for those MPs who deceive the electorate by their dishonesty?'

1 comment:

bammy said...

Michael Meacher's Wikipedia entry suggests he has identity problems: 'In 1988 he lost a libel action against the journalist Alan Watkins, who had pointed out that Meacher had invented working class origins by referring to his father as a farm labourer (he was in fact an accountant).'