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A nice little earner

DSC00116“When will they ever learn.” MPs, that is. Their snouts are still in the trough.

This time it’s two former foreign secretaries, namely Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Snouts up for hire. Mind you they’re not cheap. It seems the going rate is at least £5000 a day.

A sting operation organized by the Daily Telegraph and the Chanel 4 Dispatches programme caught the two attempting to fill their pockets.

The two ex Foreign Secretaries offered to use their positions as politicians on behalf of a fictitious Chinese company in return for cash. Cash for access.

Straw boasted that he used is influence to change EU rules “under the radar.” Apparently he used his influence with the Ukrainian prime minister to change rules in that country to the advantage of a firm that employed him.

Sir Malcolm, who oversees Britain’s intelligence agencies on behalf of Parliament, said he could arrange “useful access” to every British ambassador in the world because of his status.

Both tried to defend themselves on the Today programme Shaw by saying he was setting things up for himself for when he leaves the Commons in May. Rifkin by saying it was impossible to live on an MPs salary. To live on £65,738 a year is so difficult,eh.

Don’t feel too sorry for them having to slum it on an MP’s salary. Last year Straw earned £112,777 from his outside business activities.

Rifkin’s registered earnings was £69,610 for 43 hours work, an hourly rate of £1618. Not a bad little earner, you’d agree.

And it’s just not them. According to the Members Declaration of Earning register in the last year alone almost half the MPs declared earnings of more than £7.4 million from outside work and second jobs. Some making more than £1,600 per hour.  A living wage for sure.

Their respective parties have now suspended both Rifkin and Shaw and the two of them have referred themselves to Parliament’s standards watchdog. Well, they had little choice.

But Rifkin still chairs the intelligence and security committee (ISC). What do we make of a man that is clearly up for hire being in charge of such a sensitive committee? Shouldn’t warning bells be ringing when he was approached to help a Chinese firm. But clearly the prospect of money in the pocket deafened those bells.

David Cameron promised five years ago to tighten the rules on lobbying. At the time he said it was the “next big Scandal”. He was right, it is. He promised to tighten the rules, clearly, he  failed.

Little wonder that many voters are moving away from supporting the big parties, they just don’t trust politicians to behave responsibly. How often  is it said on the doorstep “they’re all in it for themselves.” Today’s news makes it hard to disagree with such sentiments.

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