The continual drip-drip of allegations and snout-in-trough exposures of the recent weeks doesn't damage a single political party - they damage the reputation of politics and with it, democracy as a whole. Voters I have spoken to on the doorsteps in the recent weeks want us to tackle anti-social behaviour, improve school standards, strengthen our society and repair our economy - so the more time we spend on the issue of MPs expenses the less time we are working on the "big issues" and the "tough choices". So come on Gordon, sort it out and do it fast. And to help, beause Gordon is currently keen on advice from the Conservatives, are my plans.
1. Abolish all MPs expenses - don't give MPs a penny more than that which they earn.
2. Cut MPs salaries by 5%, and then link them to the pay rises offered not to a high ranking civil servant but to our nurses and teachers. Might make our MPs think rather more about the impact of their decisions on hard working families rather more.
3. Abolish money for second homes. Parliament - or rather, the taxpayer - ought to buy a big block of flates near to Westminster, do them up and provide them for free to MPs (not unlike Halls for students). There could be larger flats for MPs whose families come and see them during the week. They would all be furnished to a minimum standard (think Travelodge); any extras come from the MP themselves. The flat is owned by the tax-payers and would switch to the new MP should a member lose their seat.
4. Judge the qualification for these flats by the avergae time taken to get to Westminster by public transport (the real journey time, not those claims made by rail companies). Anything up to an hour door-to-door is a reaosnable communte. Anything more qualifies the member for a flat.
5. Put a complete ban - and I mean, complete - on family members working for the MP.
As a Tory, the free market is very much in my thinking; there are no shortage of MPs and there are many, many very good candidates without seats who would do the job. If people don't like the pay and conditions they shouldn't out themselves up for the job. A big bit of being an MP is public service, and that may include taking a pay cut to do the job.
I am a staunch defender of MPs - the overwhelming majority are decent, very hard working and honourable men and women. They deserve our respect as a population and I personally am grateful for the work they do. MPs expenses get in the way of recieveing that respect and should be sorted out as soon as possible.