Wednesday, 30 January 2008

A tale of two politicians...and funding our kids education

Yesterday's news story abour Derek Conway MP took me down memory lane somewhere in Shropshire.

In 1994 I was elected as the county's Member of the European Parliament and tried to work with the sitting MPs, all of which with one exception were Conservatives. One of the MPs was Derek Conway who sat for Shrewsbury.

It was fascinating to see how different they were. Who couldn't like the late John Biffen? Conway though was different. Conway was not very popular in his constituency, and I often found myself dealing with constituency cases that were rightfully the perogative of the Westminster MP.

I met him a couple of times and didn't take to him, relieved when Paul Marsden took the seat in 1997. People have been quick to say what a decent bloke Conway is, that wasn't my experience.

As an MEP I often got flak about what the popular press called the "gravy train". This was always a reference to the expenses we needed in order to do our work. From the start I resolved that the expenses of our office would be entirely transparent and above board. Each year we produced a statement of income and expenditure.

I was content with the salary on offer and was delighted after years of self employment to be in a pension scheme. Apart from anything else I would have cringed with embarrassment if anyone could give the slightest suspicion that anything were wrong with my finances. There was no way I would do anything that I could not stand up in front of my local party General Committee and defend.

Like practically every other Dad I fund my kids through my salary. As things stand at present I have no parliamentary salary to fall back on, and having married late will probably have to work until I'm 65.

It makes me sick that anyone can so blatantly abuse the system.

We now find that Conway has been "manipulating" parliamentary funds to finance his kids through university.


Paul Martin said...

Clearly lessons will have to be learnt from the Conway fiasco.

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