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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Eric Pickles on Question Time

Eric Pickles may be the darling of the Tory grassroots, however he was not the darling of the Question Time audience last Thursday in Newcastle upon Tyne. Eric lives 37 miles away from the House of Commons, yet he has a flat in London which he stays in during the week. When he bought this flat, the Commons was still sitting until the wee small hours of the morning. He defended his decision to use the second home allowance by stating if he returned home he would have to set off at 5.30 am and not get back until after midnight. There was much booing and jeering from the good folks from Geordie land. Welcome to the real world were the comments he received not only from the audience, but from members of the panel, which included the infandous Michael Winner. 

I have sympathy with Eric. MPs regularly work 15-plus hour days. If they can get back home to their constituencies in a reasonable time, then they should; but this is not always possible for those who - by most standards - do not live that far away in miles. An MP has a split working life. They spend most of their time - quite rightly - representing their constituents in Westminster and they also have much work to do in the constituencies on a weekend or when parliament is in recess. There does need to be reform of MPs allowances and expenses. There needs to transparency. The public does not have confidence in the current system and it is open for abuse. There are times MPs act lawfully, but are not seen as acting in the spirit of the law. 

Those who heckled Eric Pickles in Newcastle do not leave work at 5.30am and get home after midnight on a regular basis. It was - as Eric said - hang an MP week. Hopefully a reformed and transparent system will be introduced. I also think the public need to be educated on what an MP's working life is like. MPs should not benefit financially in the long term from a second home; renting accommodation, not buying it, should be one measure introduced. 

It was not Eric's finest hour, but we are all entitled to our cock-ups. Those who think he should be replaced as party chairman are talking complete bollocks. He didn't get his point across very well, but those who were jeering him don't fully understand the role of a Member of Parliament either.  


Anonymous said...

What a complete pile of claptrap!

You really think it's acceptable for a member of government to throw around that type of commentary whilst the majority of UK residents are struggling to survive? Wondering if their job will be safe from day-to-day and how they will cope as we continue to be plunged further into turmoil.

Okay, he works long hours as do 1000's of other people in this country who aren't privvy to such benefits and luxuries.

You have further proven how out-of touch you all are with your stupid, thoughtless and insensitive comments!

Thankfully I doubt that many read your blog so hopefully they will be spared the aimless waffling of an overpaid and overfed oaf!

You sir, are an arse!

Andrew Allison said...

Anon: Thank you for your comment in the name of democratic debate. I have been called worse by many in the past and I am sure this trend will continue well into the future, although in my defence, there are many who would disagree with your assessment of me.

I must take you to task on some points you make:

1) Eric Pickles is not a member of the government. He hopes to be, but at the moment he receives a standard MP's salary.

2) You are correct to assert that many people work long hours. Indeed they do, however, I do not expect someone to set off for work at 5.30am and get back home again after midnight, four days a week, and still be alert whilst doing their job. We have already had this argument in Britain over the hours junior doctors used to work. They have - thankfully - been reduced and junior doctors have accommodation provided for them close to the hospital they work in. I do not think it unreasonable to provide accommodation for MPs, although as I have previously stated, the system needs reforming.

3) I am not an MP, or a paid employee of the Conservative Party. I am not overpaid or indeed overfed. I am an activist who enjoys writing and entering into debate with people like yourself.

Anonymous said...

I accidentally tripped up on this blog. Shouldn't think I'll be coming back soon.
Thanks Andrew for such an insightful point of view on this, I can really now fully understand the depth of utter moral disparity between yourself and the British public.
Don't reply, I'll not be back to read it.

Billy said...

your joking..
eric pickles did not only explain the need for a second home he "elaborated" on what time he would need to leave home to catch the train. some may call it lying.

also the fact that he said he needed to be on time and that the house of parliament runs like clockwork... what do the rest of us layabouts do then.

shows that mp's have no clue about life outside the gillded cage.

MP's need to be cut by half and put up in dorms.

Anonymous said...

Stumbled across this blog. It would be an amusing post if it wasn't so out of touch with the wider public feeling, and so dripping with arrogance. I quote:

"Those who heckled Eric Pickles in Newcastle do not leave work at 5.30am and get home after midnight on a regular basis."

..and you know this how? Followed everyone home did you? He works long hours. Cry me a bloody river. We all do. And let's put it his way - ol' Eric finds enough time to eat plenty.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, what planet do you live on? Do you honestly believe that MPs actually go to Westminster Mon-Fri? And even if they did, the late night sessions are such a rare thing these days, why hasn't Mr Pickles got ride of his London Pad. A Good hotel would work out cheaper on the very rare occasions he's there and it runs late.

Maybe you should have a look at Mr Pickles' vote attendance figures before you start making such claims.

Oh, and one last thing... I live 10 minutes from him in Brentwood, and I don't have a second home in London.

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