18 June 2008
Why I am standing against David Davis in the coming by-election
This is a guest posting by David Craig, who yesterday announced his candidacy in the forthcoming Haltemprice and Howden by-election, caused by the resignation of David Davis.
Having written Squandered: How Gordon Brown is wasting over one trillion pounds of our money, I have become so incensed at how our leaders have lost touch with the lives of ordinary voters, that I have decided to stand as a candidate against David Davis.
Instead of seeing an MP’s job as public service, our MPs appear to think it is self-service; instead of helping their voters, they just seem help themselves; instead of spending our money wisely, they waste it on worthless schemes promoting their own dubious 'legacy' – the Olympics £14bn+, the NHS IT system £12bn+, Identity Cards £5bn+, MPs’ new offices and so on.
As I have to live on the average salary, I believe that what is important to taxpayers is that we are governed by a new elite of MPs and their subservient bureaucrats who are overpaid, out of touch and waste billions of pounds of our money when the cost of living is spiralling out of control. As taxes shoot ever higher, the Government has squandered over one trillion pounds on failed schemes to improve public services. As fuel prices rocket, MPs think only about increasing their own petrol allowances and not about reducing fuel duty for the rest of us. As the average family must live on about £24,000 a year, MPs want a pay increase of about £40,000 taking them to £100,000 for just 30 weeks work. As private pensions schemes wither away, MPs get the equivalent of £50,000 a year paid into their pension funds.
Because I believe our leaders are overpaid, I commit to giving half my MP's salary to charity. The 12 people who propose, second and sign supporting my candidature can choose the 12 charities for my money.
There are three main areas on which I will campaign:
Firstly our Government needs to respond to the concerns of the general public by such actions as holding a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, refusing to pass any more power to Brussels , bringing our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan and setting clear annual limits on immigration.
Secondly, as we move into difficult economic times, our leaders need to demonstrate that they are using our money wisely. They should deal with a few expensive white elephants. For example, they could scrap Identity Cards saving about £5bn, cancel the failing NHS computer system - another £10bn and halve the 2012 Olympics budget saving over £6bn. They should reduce waste in the public sector. Cutting the number of managers in the NHS could save over £2bn, halving the amount the public sector spends on management consultants would save about £3bn and cutting spending on pointless administrative quangos should save over £5bn. Action also needs to be taken to curb the runaway costs of senior civil servants’ salaries and pensions The Government should impose a three-year salary freeze on all public sector staff earning over £70,000 a year, tax the hitherto tax-free lump sum paid to retiring top civil servants and impose a special pensions tax on all public sector employees earning over £50,000 to make their pensions self-financing rather than paid for out of our future taxes.
Thirdly, I would campaign to stop politicians shamelessly filling their pockets at taxpayers’ expense. When this Government swept to power in May 1997, less than half our legislation was initiated and authored in the EU. By 2001 this had reached 55 per cent and, according to an answer given in 2007 in the German parliament (the UK Government has refused to provide the same information), 84 per cent of their legislation now comes directly from the EU.
If you owned a corner shop and you lost more than half of your customers, you might consider reducing your staff and even paying yourself slightly less. Yet, our leaders have never considered cutting their numbers or their remuneration to match their greatly reduced workload. In the last five years alone, the amount of money our MPs have taken in salaries and expenses has gone up by a satisfying (for them) 64 per cent, from less than £100m in 2001–2 to over £155m in 2006–7, the number of expense claims submitted by MPs has almost doubled from just over 30,000 a year to close to 60,000 and the number of staff employed to help our MPs do less and less work has gone up by over a third from around 1,800 to over 2,500.
So I would oppose MPs getting the pay rise they want to take their salaries for thirty weeks’ work from around £60,000 up towards £100,000, I would fight to make MPs submit receipts for all expenses as is normal practice in any other business and I would support moves preventing MPs from employing their own family members with taxpayers’ money.
The gap between our rulers and the electorate widens by the day, while the gap between our main political parties becomes ever narrower. The way our politicians club together to protect their own when the press exposes how they have misused their expenses clearly demonstrates their contempt for those who have elected them. It’s time for a ‘people’s revolt’ against our wasteful and self-serving rulers. I hope my book and candidature will be the first steps.
David Craig, 54, is a former management consultant who has now taken up writing books exposing waste, mismanagement and corruption in government. He is the author of Squandered: How Gordon Brown is wasting over on trillion pounds of our money (2008), Who cares? (2007) a book about the dreadful state of the NHS, and Plundering the Public Sector (2006) about how management and IT consultants are fleecing the taxpayer. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org