I have been deeply saddened by the conduct of MPs on expenses. It particularly hurts when MPs you had respect for, have been shown to have behaved badly. One of the Telegraph named individuals is someone I have known well (albeit as an opponent within the Party) and I regret I have little doubt from my previous knowledge of them, that they systematically exploited the system for their personal gain. That and other revelations have lead me to sign this letter. I hope grassroots activists in other Political Parties will take action to ensure their miscreants are unable to stand at the next election in their Party colours.
Here is the text of the letter:
Dear National Executive Committee (NEC) Chair,
We are writing to you to register our protest at the conduct of many Labour MPs, ministers and cabinet ministers in allowance and expense claims funded by hard working British taxpayers during the tenure of this Parliament. We are also gravely concerned that the Party Leadership has failed to take charge of a critical situation on an issue so fundamentally defining to the character and reputation of our Party, its supporters and activists.
We are particularly disappointed with a number of aspects of the leadership’s response including:
• The continued reference by Labour spokespeople to the 'system' being wrong and 'needing reform'. Undoubtedly this is the case. But the 'system' does not force LabourMinisters and MPs to make specific claims that abuse public trust and in some cases arean abuse of public money. Making an expense claim is a matter of individual responsibility. Our Party has been left looking incredibly insensitive and out of touch with hard-working and fair minded citizens.
• The Prime Minister, and the collective leadership of the Labour Party, have been negligent in protecting the reputation of the party by failing to speedily apologise for our MPs, by failing to take immediate and clear disciplinary action, and by regularly appearing to side with Ministers and MPs who have made excessive and exaggerated claims in the face of justifiable public anger.
• Many of the claims are for things that, in all conscience, 99% of Labour Party members outside of Parliament would never be able to bring themselves to claim, even if a 'system' allowed them to.
Therefore, we ask that the NEC:
• Organise a thorough review of suspected excessive and abusive claims - regardless of whether they were eventually signed off by an over-worked Fees Office.
• Support the immediate removal of the whip from individual MPs who have brought the party into disrepute over this issue and allow Constituency Labour Parties to trigger reselection ballots against them.
We write this in a spirit of solidarity and heartfelt concern for the reputation of the Party that we will continue to work hard for. We are a group of leading loyal activists from across the breadth of the Labour Party, who will not hesitate to defend the future of our Labour movement, which should always stand for fairness, compassion and integrity, no matter how inconvenient living by these values may be.
Cllr. Mark Nottingham and 120 other Labour Party activists