Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Welsh MPs’ snouts back in the trough - this time its legal!

Alun Cairns pockets another pay out

“We’re all in this together” was the Tories’ slogan to justify austerity. But some of us are more in it than others.

Alun Cairns, the Tory MP for Vale of Glamorgan, has just trousered a £29,000 pay off for losing his seat in the Assembly. The “resettlement grant” is intended to help defeated AMs be weaned off their pampered £54,000 salaries before being released back into the real world. Except Cairns didn’t lose his seat - he chose not take it up after winning in Vale of Glamorgan in the general election.

Cairns deliberately hung on as an Assembly Member until the Assembly election so that he could claim the £29,000 pay off.

Its not the first time Cairns’ snout has plunged into the trough. As an assembly member he claimed £12,500 a year for a flat in Cardiff near the Assembly despite living just 30 miles down the M4. He even had the cheek to demand the assembly changed its rules to allow him to continue to claim it when boundary changes made him ineligible for the pay out.The Assembly duly obliged.

Meanwhile Ian Duncan Smith, Cairns’ Tory colleague in charge of Work and Pensions, was castigating the unemployed in Merthyr for not catching the bus to jobs in Cardiff (about the same distance as from Cairns’ home in Ewenny). Not only was Cairns not catching a bus, he claimed he couldn’t even drive to work along with the thousands of other commuters from the Bridgend area every day! No doubt he made a packet buying a flat in Cardiff paid for by the Assembly.

Ross Saunders stood as a Socialist Party Wales candidate as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in the Assembly election. He explained why Socialist Party members pledge to only accept the average wage of a worker if elected to parliament or the assembly: “It’s vital that MPs and AMs who claim to represent working people live the same lifestyle and encounter the same problems as the people they represent. Life looks a lot easier to people on £54,000 living in big houses and with a nice fat pension at the end of it. That’s why all Socialist Party representatives promise to follow the example of the Militant MPs in the 1980s who only accepted the wage of a skilled worker and donated the surplus back to the labour movement that they represented.”

Every government since 1979 has ended covered from head to toe in sleaze. In the 90s it was the Tories ‘‘cash for questions” scandals. Before the last election it was the MPs expenses and New Labour ex-ministers selling favours.

This time the Tories have got off to an early start. Perhaps they don’t expect to be in power for long.

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