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Yesterday's weather did put a bit of a dampener on things at yesterday's annual Linlithgow Street fair. Setting up in the rain on an near deserted Main Street is not something I have done before, although on occasion we have taken down in the rain.
So the actual number of residents we saw on this annual event was down on normal. As most of the people out and about were the people manning other stalls who we knew already. One highlight of the day was the cross party cooperation when the SNP's gazebo (the blue on at the start of the video above took off. While I held unto ours Kevin McPhillips our local convenor ran down to help and the Conservative Provost Tom Kerr who was down there at the time all helped to prevent any damage of injury from it fly up the vennel.
Other cross-partyness occurred when Kevin, Tam Smith SNP PPC for Linlithgow and Falkirk East, John Barrett Lib Dem MP for Edinburgh West and myself* were discussing amongst other things MP expenses. John raised the point that he himself is shocked by some of the travel expense claims of some of Scotland's highest claimers who are on the same flights as him (some from very nearby to where this discussion took place). He also find it rather shocking that they can manage to claim more for travel than Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael who only has one BA monopolised route to take him back to his constituency, and then has to use ferrys to get him about in his constituency.
Tam (who I've found out reads this blog) also complained that the attitude of those currently elected will be reflecting badly on those who wish to stand against those currently making big claims, such as himself and the Lib Dem candidate for Linlithgow and Falkirk East. The public perception can only be changed by transparency, this may well be a key election issue in the coming years that I can see being asked of all prospective candidates.
My answer to this question is that if selected for the Linlithgow and Falkirk East seat and if successful in the General Election I should take over Michael Connarty's residence in London plus all the furnishings that he has bought at taxpayers expense. After all the residence and its furnishings were bought for the MP for Linlithgow and Falkirk East not for the personal usage of an individual. The second homes allowance is there to allow MPs from outwith commutable distance of the commons to spend their working weeks somewhere close to their weekday place of work.
We also need the full disclosure of receipts not through the Telegraph and the illegally acquired expenses but as with the Scottish MSPs through the records office at Westminster at the end of the financial year.
It also wouldn't go amiss if 'sorry' was said my at least some MP who's expenses while under one part of the regulations, fail on another as pointed out by John Barrett yesterday. The fact that all claims should be "above reproach" and that "members should avoid purchases which could be seen as extravagant or luxurious."
*That is the other three as seen from left to right in the picture I took.