This week we mark the anniversary of the end of hostilities in World War 1. It’s a time to remember with gratitude all those who made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf, and the many more who suffered life changing physical or mental injuries. Many Remembrance Day services now remember all victims of war and conflict – it’s a difficult but important part of the reconciliation process to recognise the courage of some who were once our enemies, and to understand that they also had families who mourn their loss. And we remember the civilian victims who often make up the majority of casualties in modern day conflicts. This year, as I have done every year since being elected to Westminster, I’m sending wreaths to every war memorial in my constituency.
Last week saw some of the most shameful events ever seen in the British parliament. Tory MP Owen Paterson had been found guilty of 45 different breaches of the Code of Conduct that’s designed to prevent MPs from behaving in a way that is corrupt or brings parliament into disrepute. The cross-party Standards Committee interviewed Mr Paterson and recommended that he be suspended from parliament for thirty “sitting” days. The Government took the unprecedented step of ordering its MPs to vote against this and to support a motion that undermined the integrity of the whole process. Within a few hours scandal had turned to farce when the government made a humiliating u-turn. Mr Paterson then resigned as an MP anyway. At least two senior government ministers have been left in a position where no-one with any self respect could stay in their job. But the real scandal is that this attack on the Standards Commissioner has been orchestrated by Boris Johnson himself. He’s due to come before the Commissioner soon, so he had a very definite vested interest in discrediting her before she casts judgement on him.
A few days after this scandal it was revealed that fifteen recent Tory party treasurers had donated £3 million or more to party funds – and they all subsequently got jobs for life in the House of Lords. In my opinion the House of Lords has been so corrupted by political cronyism (from governments on both sides) that the only way to restore any kind of integrity to our political system is to abolish the house of lords entirely.
In the recent budget debate I highlighted the massive contribution the various Diageo plants in my constituency make to the British treasury. Cameron Brig distillery alone generates £3.6 BILLION in excise duties every year. Add to that the Income Tax, National Insurance and Corporation Tax (company profit tax) attributable to Diageo’s Fife operations and to the hard work of thousands of businesses and self employed people in Glenrothes and Central Fife and it’s clear that my constituents pay well over their share of taxes to the chancellor of the exchequer. It’s unforgivable that he’s cutting pensions and benefits to so many of them.