Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Nepotism doesn't always work out.

Michael Martin seems determined to hang on to his position as Speaker until next year. A headline in the Mail says, "Michael Martin to quit, but not until after next Election to install son in hereditary seat and claim £100,000 golden parachute"

The story goes on to explain the thinking behind this plan, and how Mr Martin is determined to make sure his son, Paul, enters Parliament, through the route of a "safe" Glasgow seat. "Safe", Mrs Rigby presumes, because that constituency has traditionally returned a Labour candidate.

Mrs R has an inkling of how voters are thinking just now. She has a feeling that any politician who lets the media think they're "safe" is probably in for a very rude awakening. She's heard plenty of people saying they'd rather vote for somebody else, anybody else - even the Monster Raving Loony Party - instead of one of the few greedy, self-seeking individuals who see themselves above the rules of decent behaviour, and who aren't above pinching the petty cash if they think nobody's looking.

Mrs Rigby's notes to Mr Martin ...

* The electorate can see how you behave when you're at work - it was, perhaps, a sad day for you when they let television cameras into the House. Those with short memories can read your words in Hansard.

* Voters know you have been stubbornly refusing to change the rules relating to MPs expenses, they know you have spent vast sums of taxpayers money fighting a court ruling to make them public.

* The electorate knows you have been rude to MPs, they know that you yourself have seen fit to claim additional allowances when you already earn - according to Parliament's own FAQs here - £141,866.

* Voters might decide that you and your family have taken more than enough taxpayers money, and want to give somebody else a chance. Your voters might even choose an SNP candidate over Labour.

* Many people, Mr Martin, will have read or heard anecdotally, that you said,
"I have been a trade unionist all my life. I did not come into politics not to take what is owed to me."
There are people on a minimum wage who pay their Union fees knowing full well that a percentage of every single union subscription automatically
goes to the Labour Party - to pay people like you to represent them and their interests in Parliament. That money is not intended to help you do your job, line your pocket.

* Take note, Mr Martin, of what has happened to 22 year old Georgina Gould, who had set her heart on being Labour parliamentary candidate for Erith and Thamesmead. Georgina's Dad was given a peerage by that nice Mr Blair, probably because he helped found New Labour, and Georgina's candidacy was publicly supported by Alistair Campbell and Tessa Jowell. There were some shenanigans with voting, silly nonsense about a ballot box and postal votes, which seems to have been brushed under the carpet. But, in the end, even an all-female shortlist couldn't help her and she came last, so will not stand for election to Parliament - not in that constituency anyway.

So, you see Mr Martin, nepotism doesn't always work out the way you want it to. It isn't always possible for people like you to draw up the ladder behind you once you've reached the top.

Actually, Mr Martin, Mrs Rigby thinks you should go now, straight away, before you are allowed to do any more damage to either the position of Speaker, the UK Parliament or the way the rest of the world views this country. If you were a man of honour you would know this is for the best - for the country you claim to serve.

Mrs R doesn't think you should be able to work out a long notice, giving you the opportunity to cause whatever mischief you choose in the interim. She thinks you should be given a large cardboard box and be ordered to clear your desk - with a security guard watching - the same as can happen within the private sector.

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