This took me a little by surprise. The last three Led By Donkeys video films about MPs trying to get an extra job with a fake foreign firm, ignoring the plight of their poverty-stricken constituents, have been released over the last 24 hours.
Here they are. Firstly, Tory Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond, who already has two extra jobs that make as much money for him as his Parliamentary salary. The (relatively recent) saying is true: money isn’t earned any more – it is a commodity that may be demanded in greater or lesser amounts according to circumstances…
Here’s the clip:
It’s fascinating how he talks about his price range being at the lower end of the scale suggested – then he readily agrees to suggest remuneration at the middle-to-top end of the scale.
Next up: Sir Gavin Williamson, who left his last Tory government job under a cloud of bullying accusations:
Interestingly, he at least took a more sceptical attitude toward the fake company, seeking to establish that it was bona fide. But he still joined a Zoom call to discuss the fake job being offered to him.
And when he found out the firm wanted to meet government ministers, he made his excuses and hung up. It seems he did not want to be involved with an organisation that may seek to influence government policy.
It provides a curious footnote to Williamson’s career. After years on the wrong side of the headlines, he suddenly did the right thing.
That being said, and as with all the other Tories, the well-being of his constituents still took second place to his own comfort as he has since taken a second job with an education firm, for which he takes £50,000 per year.
Finally: Matt Hancock – described by Led By Donkey’s as an independent MP, having lost the Tory whip due to his appearance on TV’s I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, and by a commenter on the video clip as the kind of person you have to admire: “Imagine waking up as Matt Hancock every morning and not simply throwing yourself into the ocean.”
He was interviewed in the week his damning WhatsApp conversations about the Covid-19 crisis were publicised in the press, and announced he would be standing down as an MP at the next election.
He still seemed to have time to discuss a second job with a foreign firm – although, let’s be fair: he was the only MP in the Led By Donkeys investigation who mentioned any responsibility to his constituents at all.
And, again, he stressed he’d stick to Parliamentary rules about meetings with government ministers.
Surprisingly, Led By Donkeys did not sum up their findings at all.
Well, I have a few – and here they are:
Firstly, it is clear that all five of the MPs who interviewed for the fake job were quite happy to have such a position alongside their work as MPs and for their constituents; they all wanted to get on the gravy train.
Four of them had no concerns about security – doesn’t that make them security risks?
Three of them did not have apparent concerns about being used as conduits for a firm to talk to ministers. Another one, who said he could not lobby directly, said there was a way around the rules. Only one refused to have anything to do with behaviour that might be used to attempt to influence government policy. So it seems the majority were happy to help influence the government by these means.
And only one MP – possibly the one who might be least expected to do so – actually mentioned a duty to constituents.
So the intention of the investigation is proved: it seems clear that, among some MPs at least, the well-being of UK citizens comes a distant second to the opportunity to use status as an MP to rake in pots of cash.
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