MPs: The good, the bad and the expense forms

Who can we trust and what can we believe? A dive into the behaviours of our MPs.

It seems like every other day there is new scandal within the world of the Houses of Parliament and, often, it can feel there is an extreme level of detachment between those in power, and those they represent. While it is true that there are people in government who do not treat their position with the respect it deserves, we at Voice of London feel it is unfair to categorise every Member of Parliament under this one banner because, as is the case with many stories, there are two sides to this one.

First, a quick explainer about the role an MP is meant to undertake. This is a profession created to balance the playing field, to offer a voice to those who would otherwise could not get a word in in the chaotic hearsay of Central London. They are elected to be the heart of the community, someone who attends every public event and represents everything that their constituency stands for. This sounds ideal, right? On paper this should be democracy at its finest and, for many, this is the case.

Take Sir David Amess, for example, who is a primary example of an MP doing his job right. A dedicated part of his community who always had time for his constituents, Amess was not using his role as an MP as a stepping stone to higher ranks, but simply for his love of the region. Though tragically cut short when he was stabbed earlier this year, Amess’ work as an MP is a perfect example of how the role should be carried out.

To look locally as well, Florence Eshalomi, the MP for Vauxhall in South London has been widely praised for her maiden speech based around knife crime and how she felt Londoners have been “desensitised” to it and has gone out of her way to ensure that face-to-face surgeries (meetings with constituents), despite warnings from the police not to due to worries of a racist attack, to make sure she can serve Vauxhall properly. There are countless examples of MPs who work tirelessly for their area, but the sad reality is that they will never make headlines for doing their job well.

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Then there is the other side of the story, the current “sleaze” scandal that is ongoing, the second jobs debate and the housing issues surrounding MPs making income from renting their homes out while using taxpayer money to live in London. The current salary for MPs, according the Parliament website, is £81,932 per year. Over three times the average for the UK which stands at £25,971 as of 2021. The Guardian reported earlier in November that some MPs are making up to £400,000 on top of their salary while using government property to work as a consultant.

The claims made during lockdown by MPs for personalised Apple products and then putting their heating and electricity bills on the taxpayer despite rising costs and job shortages shows that there is a disconnection between many of these officials and the people they represent. Skyrocketing expense forms that many critics say are unregulated leave MPs free to claim thousands in taxpayer money back on a wide range of general costs of living.

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Voice of London has reached out to both Florence Eshalomi and the MPs for East and West Harrow, where we are based, for their comment on the issues mentioned here and we will update you when we hear back.

Words: Peter Trythall | Subbing: Marion Pichardie

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