The SNP are standing as they say at this election your local champions, saying that more Nats will get a stronger voice in Westminster. However, one of the answers from our local SNP candidate throws serious doubt on their ability to achieve that.
One of the questions asked at the Linlithgow hustings last night was is £180,000 in expenses an appropriate amount for an MP. This was £7,000 short of the greatest amount our Labour MP had claimed when he was the UKs most expensive member.
As I pointed out none of the four of us sat at the table would have a say in what was the appropriate limits of your MP's expenses from now on, or on their salaries, this was a matter for an independent commission.
Before me however Tam Smith plucked a figure of £60,000 out of the air. He was going to save money by not running a local constituency office and only holding one surgery a week. It would also appear from that amount that he would be hard pressed to employ more than one member of staff whether that was at Westminster or locally to help him out. He had already agreed with me that answering all the election correspondence by yourself was a time consuming matter, so one wonders just how he would survive on such a tight self imposed restriction.
There are ways to save money under the independent expenses cap and I will be aiming to do that. Booking travel tickets well in advance to save money. Looking for London accommodation that is accessible from Westminster but not necessarily within walking distance of the Commons where rents*are extortionate. So that would be somewhere that is within cycling distance, having cycled in London as a student I know that things have improved since then. I'll also use panniers to carry my papers etc not a chauffeur driven car like David Cameron.
Yes there is a limit, but that is not what you should spend to. You can be frugal within the rules and within the limits and that is what I aim to do if elected. But you also need to provide a suitable level of service to your constituents.
That is why if I am elected on May 6th I will also run a local office. Just the one mind, I don't agree with Michael Connarty that you need two to be able to deal with two different council areas, two health boards, two police authorities etc. You merely need staff that are able to pinpoint which part of the constituency someone is in and deal with the correct authority. I think it is important to have a staffed local office so that local constituents do not have to call a London or mobile phone number to get hold of you during working hours.
What Tam is looking to do is cut the service you would receive from an MP if he were elected, rather than aim to give you value for money. He is also going to be cutting the effective voice of local people.
* Yes under the new rules I would have to rent once elected, no more buying of second homes.