It has only been a few days since Liam Fox announced his resignation as defence secretary, but no doubt there have already been questions over the government's transparency as well as their private financial habits. Mr. Fox's strategy of keeping his officials in the dark whilst liaising with his corporate friend Adam Werritty only reaffirms the murky waters in which the government conducts their tasks.
It is not the first time the expenses have been exposed in such an explosive manner. In 2009, the Telegraph Group published details of the alleged misuse of the permitted allowances and expenses claimed by Members of Parliament. There have been subsequent disclosures of MP's expenditure, with an alarming £3,154,182.29 spent by the parties since the Conservative inauguration from May to August 2010.
The average annual salary of an MP is currently £65,738 as of 1 April 2010 according to the UK Parliamentary website; however that is the minimum wage and can exceed up to £142,500. Essentially the government acts as a civil service, as servants of the Crown working for the UK government in accordance to the parliamentary definition. In actuality the pay should start at £22,850, and similar to senior civil servants, should rise in accordance with the higher end of approximately £78,088.
It seems only fair that the salary should surpass the civil service wage by a slight amount in order to regulate expenses, and ensure that the government stay a public service and not a privatised banking system.
With Prime Minister, David Cameron forecasting £83 billion of public sector cuts; it appears that the first reductions could have come out of the government's own pockets. During the leadership election debates in 2010, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg had claimed that "We can create a fair society [...] an economy no longer held hostage by greedy bankers, decent, open politics," which no longer applies to the current coalition.
"I think you deserve the right to sack your MPs when they're corrupt, but you also deserve a politics where we finally get the big money out of politics altogether," and perhaps they should have taken Mr. Clegg's initial word, as the policies have now fallen to deaf ears.
In 2009, according to BBC news magazine, treating the MP's expenses as income then the average expenses alone would place the MP household above about 30% of the population or 17 million individuals. And on salary alone, the MP's household is above about 91% of the population - 55 million individuals. About 9% have household incomes higher than this. It is unlikely that the government can really empathise with those facing public sector cuts, as long as they remain in the top percentile of wealth.
No doubt that leadership of an entire country is a charge not to be taken lightly, however with Britain facing its highest rate of unemployment in 17 years; it is not the time to be flaunting money in front of those who are living on the breadline.
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