Archive for June, 2009

Jeremy Hunt tried to claim for a 1p phone call

The Conservative MP for South West Surrey won the award for the most penny-pinching expense claim, as all the national newspapers told us today. Jeremy Hunt, who last summer was estimated by the Spectator Magazine to be worth £4.1 million, tried to claim for a 1p mobile phone call.
And it wasn’t some technical error. The claim was actually hand written!
Like my mother would say, “Look after the pennies ….”

See the actual claim by clicking here

For the Spectator report estimating Jeremy’s wealth click here

Speaking at the hustings in Farnham

Over the last few weeks it seems that the whole country has been consumed with the MPs’ expenses saga. Many people are now growing weary of the whole thing.

There are grave issues raised and the South West Surrey MP has many questions still to answer. In a democracy it is crucial that the opposition challenges and questions vigorously and I will continue to do so.

At the same time we need to present our positive policies for the way forward.

A Positive Way Forward

Our country and indeed the whole world faces very serious matters, including the economic crisis and climate change to name but two.

I would love to see the main political leaders in our country coming together to address some of the more intractable issues, but the nature of our current political system works against such a consensus approach. You might expect me, as a Lib Dem, to say that we need a new voting system, but more and more people of all political parties and of none, are calling for ‘electoral reform’. Click here for the campaign for electoral reform which is gaining such momentum.

The current system of voting is a kind of ‘winner takes all’ system which usually leads to huge majorities in Parliament for one or other of the main parties. If they think the mood is swinging their way then, of course, they don’t want to change the system! Labour obtained a large majority at the last election on the back of just 22% of the electorate voting for them (and only 35% of those who actually voted). That can’t be right.

But it’s not just unfair on the 65% who voted for other parties. It is also bad for our country, because it leads to disenchantment with politics. This is because it appears that the only voters who really matter are those in a handful of marginal constituencies where the election could go either way. “What’s the point in voting. It doesn’t change anything”, many people say across the rest of the country.

I believe the time is ripe for major reform and the core of that reform must be a fairer voting system.

My Reform Agenda

There are some major reforms needed. They include rolling back the ‘Big Brother’ state, stronger privacy laws for ordinary people, scrapping ID cards, enshrining freedom of speech and religion, a fully elected House of Lords, making the government much more accountable, fixed-term Parliaments and dispersing power to the most local possible level. My speech to secure my selection by Lib Dem members in South West Surrey in March was almost entirely focussed on these issues. After the last few weeks I think the case for radical reform has never been stronger in my lifetime. I would love to hear your views on these matters.

Click here for Mike’s main website