Thursday, 3 June 2010

Another Unionist strategy to defeat Sinn Féin? - Nigel Dodds' Hypocrisy

Before I get started, here is his statement:

“The Government has talked about rebuilding trust in politics and the DUP has strongly supported the reform of the expenses system, and would have liked to see further change than was implemented to ensure that trust in politics can be regained. There is a huge inconsistency however which remains whereby Members of Parliament who do not take their seat benefit from the payment of expenses.

If someone wishes to stand on an abstentionist platform then they are obviously entitled to do so, but if elected they should not be able to benefit from some aspects of being an MP whilst not representing their constituents in Parliament or carrying out the duties of an MP. The current Government has the opportunity to review this situation and I am glad that the Leader of the House did give a commitment to look at this.

The vast majority of people right across the United Kingdom want to see politicians carrying out the work they were elected to do and they do not want to see expenses paid to MPs who want to claim to be outside the British Parliamentary system yet still receive financial benefits from the House of Commons.”

This the same man of whom the Telegraph reported during the expenses scandal:

"Nigel Dodds claimed £750 over two years for four tables and a table top for his second home. In 2007-08, Mr Dodds had the largest expenses bill of any Northern Ireland MP and the 13th highest of all. The DUP deputy leader’s expenses towards travel, staffing and running an office totalled £171,609."

The same paper later, in May 2009, further reported in Dodds' furnishing claims which included "£296 for picture framing and £974.95 over two years on seven tables".

This all while also occupying posts in the Assembly, the Executive, and Belfast City Council, and claiming salaries/expenses for all three. So Mr. Dodds is by no means the moral authority.

So lets break down the nonsense he has said. In the first paragraph he equates the need for the public to regain trust in politicians with the removal of absentionists' parliamentary expenses. This is easily refuted. There is no Sinn Féin voter who was shocked and appalled to see that Sinn Féin claim expenses without sitting in Westminster, as DUP voters were appalled at Dodds' abuse of the system. Sinn Féin ran on a policy of absentionism as they have done for a long time and were duly elected to fulfill that electoral promise. Sinn Féin voters pay their taxes to the British treasury and as such the Sinn Féin MPs are entitled to receive reimbursement for any expense attributed to the carrying out of their duties. Dodds also equates not sitting in parliament to not carrying out MPs duties. The vast majority of MP's work is carried out in their constituency and elsewhere outside the House of Commons.

Sinn Fein MPs use some of that expenses money to hire constituency workers, as many other parties do. This is not pocketed money. Dodds should consider those constituents, many unionists as well as nationalists. Or perhaps Dodds is hoping to politically starve those constituents into voting DUP since unionism has so miserably failed to defeat Sinn Féin on the issues.

If Nigel Dodds' only constituency work happens whilst on his backside in Westminster then it is the people of North Belfast who I feel sorry for.

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