This blog is a political blog from a left-of-centre perspective. This is not specifically a party political blog, but does have a Lib Dem orientation. Constructive enagement with radical liberals, social democrats / democratic socialists and greens is particularly welcomed.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Torbay Tory PPC in a Pickle ? Herald Express Letter 270309

A letter to the Torbay local paper follows. Ironically this is after recent exchanges within it's letters pages between Marcus and Labour about integrity and funding issues in politics ! This is, of course, the unedited and as yet unpublished version.

Marcus Wood, from the Torbay Tories, has frequently been on these pages seeking to uphold integrity and honesty as a virtue in politics, whilst excoriating others to do likewise. So what does he make of Eric Pickles' statement that he needs a second home near Westminster, paid for by taxpayers, despite his Essex constituency being arguably less than 30 miles from London. Eric, lambasted by a BBC Question Time audience, protested that he had broken no rules, following the moral outrage from those present. This comes hot on the heels of Caroline Spelman,the Conservative front-bench shadow minister having to repay £10,000 in expenses after breaking parliamentary rules by using taxpayer-funded expenses to pay her nanny.

Further, the largely Belize based tax exile Lord Ashcroft, through Bearwood Corporate Services, donated in 2006 £5,000 to Marcus Wood’s campaigning funds in Torbay and The Guardian (November 28 2006) reports that Lord Ashcroft has already promised to ensure that the Tories spend more in marginal seats well ahead of the next election. This, of course, will seek to circumvent spending restrictions immediately before an election. How much more Ashcroft money has been pumped in Torbay Tories' coffers since ? Illegal ? No ! But morally defensible and anyone's idea of clean politics ? Surely not. Stop pontificating Marcus and address the failings of your own Conservative party before slating others.

Labour too, through obstruction of the Freedom of Information Act, sought for MP's expenses to be exempted from it's provisions. This was rightly described as 'outrageous' by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, with that party's MPs bound by a three line whip to vote against the measure at Westminster.

Unlike the large trade union donations received by Labour or big business interests backing Labour, there are no huge vested interests financially backing or influencing the Lib Dems. As Nick Clegg said "At a time when families are having to count every penny, it is outrageous that MPs are seeking to hide how they spend their money". The choice at the next election in Torbay will be one between a party and candidate of transparency and one whose rhetoric is not matched by actions. The choice is yours !

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