Three months before the country goes to the polls and David Cameron and Ed Miliband must be holding their heads in their hands at the return of sleaze in Parliament.
This time it is the turn of two Parliamentary grandees, political heavyweights and former Foreign Secretaries no less. The likeable Jack Straw and the prickly yet capable Sir Malcolm Rifkind were filmed by an under-cover Channel 4 Dispatches team agreeing to provide access and influence - for a fee of course. Both deny any wrong-doing although Sir Malcolm has resigned his chairmanship of the prestigious Intelligence and Security Committee and will stand down at the next election.
Following the cash for questions scandal in the nineties, the cash for access scandal five years ago and the explosive MPs expenses revelations what does this latest incident tell us about Parliament and the people we send there?
Well, unfortunately it reinforces what many believe to be true - that politicians are simply out of touch with the real world and their constituents, caught up and deluded in their Westminster bubble. Rifkind demonstrated this perfectly with his recorded comments of, “nobody pays me a salary.” Oh yes they do, and compared with most people in the country it’s a very good one.
Whether you agree or not that we have the right kind of people in Parliament or the pay attracts the brightest and the best – I do think we need to lance this boil of MPs and their earnings.
There is a simple solution. Make a Member of Parliament a full-time position. They already are you say – and you are right. But we need to really make them full- time. Pay them £250,000 per year that covers their salary, expenses including dual-housing, pension contributions and staffing costs.
It should also be the case that any payments for TV appearances, writing articles or participation in surveys should be donated to charities and good causes within their constituencies.
It should be illegal for MPs to have any other earnings or to hold Directorships, consultancies or any other paid employment or position whilst they are serving as MPs. Put simply, change the system to ensure that each representative the voters send to Westminster is 100% committed in time and effort to improving their lives and not their own.
If MPs do not think the ‘package’ is enough, then it is simple, do not stand for Parliament.