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26 February 2015

Leader: Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw have shown contempt for their constituents

We want MPs to have experience, but the office is not a part-time job. The comments from Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw deserve no sympathy.

By New Statesman

Shed no tears for Malcolm Rifkind or Jack Straw. The Conservative and Labour MPs, both former foreign secretaries, fell for a Telegraph/Channel 4 sting that showed them willing to use their positions as politicians to act on behalf of a fictitious Chinese company for £5,000 a day. In doing so, they exposed themselves as naive, greedy and contemptuous of their office and constituents.

Mr Rifkind, a politician of considerable gifts, told his fake suitors that as an MP he was “self-employed” and had lots of free time (perhaps because his Commons voting record is so poor). Though he has agreed to stand down as an MP and as the chairman of parliament’s intelligence and security committee, he says his conscience is clear. Getting by on “simply £60,000” – an MP’s basic taxpayer-funded salary is £67,060, two and a half times the national average – is unrealistic, he says. (He neglected to mention his significant outside earnings.) We want our MPs to have wide experience and hinterlands. But being an MP is not a part-time job, nor one that should be undertaken for the money. It is a public service. Anyone who thinks otherwise should vacate his or her seat and follow Mr Rifkind out of the House in May. 

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