Sir Malcolm Rifkind and the Cash for Access Scandal
Should MPs really live on more than £67,060 a year?
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The Conservative MP, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, has resigned as the chairman of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Council (ISC) after allegations of him and fellow MP Jack Straw using their positions on behalf of a nonexistent Chinese company in return for thousands of pounds had been made by the Daily Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches.
Following the publication of this allegation, Sir Malcom Rifkind, had insisted that he “did not do anything wrong” in various interviews. Speaking after a meeting in Westminster, he continued to say “No, I don’t think I did anything wrong. I may have made errors of judgement but then we all make errors of judgement. We are all human beings in that sense.”
This statement, angered the public even more as he attempted to get us to sympathise with him because “we are all human beings in that sense,” however, the average tax payer does not earn £67,060 a year, or a live a life of relative luxury, so therefore Rifkind failed to get the taxpayer’s empathy. Rather, this scandal has hit the Conservative Party at a crucial time, especially with the general elections being so close. The Daily Telegraph published an article which shows that Conservative MPs had outside earnings of £4.74m whereas Labour MPs earn £2.05m outside of the office. Half of Labour’s expenses were accredited through the earnings of the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Ed Milliband, earlier this week had proposed to the Prime Minister a ban on MPs having second jobs. In his speech he said, “Let’s talk about a party bought and sold by hedge funds. A man who appointed a self-declared tax avoider as his treasurer. That is the Conservative Party. He has got one more chance. He talked big in opposition about change. He is going to be judged on the way he votes. He should vote for one job, not two- last chance, yes or no?” David Cameron, refused that proposal, claiming that it could ban MPs from continuing to run a family business after they have been appointed, and Milliband immediately ejected that it would still allow MPs to work as trade union officials. At the moment, the Labour proposal is unlikely to be passed.
Because of this proposal, Conservative MP, Rifkind has also expressed that he would stand down as an MP and would not be running in the general election. Outraged members of the public have said that Straw and Rifkind’s appeal that earning £67, 070 a year may not be enough for their luxurious living; however, charging £5,000 - £8,000 for half a day – more than treble their salary, highlighted the greed of these ex foreign secretaries, and has now been shamed permanently.
In these times, the expectation is now that our MP should be dedicated in their service to the people, and be paid a sum of money which is roughly equivalent to professionals and business people.