Labour MP resigns over expenses; second jobs scandal looms


8:24 am - July 1st 2009

by Chris Barnyard    


      Share on Tumblr

The Telegraph this morning reports that Labour MP Harry Cohen has announced his decision to quit as an MP by the next election.

The MP had come under heavy criticism for his decision to claim more than £100,000 in second home expenses on a house in his constituency of Leyton and Wanstead, east London, within easy commuting distance of the Commons.

He was able to designate the Leyton property as his second home after registering a house 70 miles away in Colchester, Essex, as his main residence.

Though Tory MPs have paid back over a quarter of a million in expenses so far, Cameron has avoided firing any close friends / shadow cabinet members over their expenses.

But that scandal is likely to be over-shadowed by revelations over second-jobs, details of which are to be disclosed today. The disclosure of outside interests is more likely to affect the Tories. Cameron has already attempted some damage limitation by announcing that senior Tories will have to give up second jobs by the New Year.

But here too, there have been quietly muffled scandals. Last week it emerged that Michael Gove was paid around £1,250 per hour for articles for the Times. It was later revealed that Gove had also breached party rules by accepting money for writing about their policy area. Once exposed, Gove’s office hurriedly stated that he would donate those earnings to charity.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
Chris is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He is an aspiring journalist and reports stories for LC.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Westminster

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


In what sense is writing articles for the Times “scandalous”?

2. Shatterface

If an MP is spending his constituents’ time on outside interests, or there’s a clear conflict of interest then it’s our concern; if its just the amount they are being paid it’s fuck all to do with us.

3. Denim Justice

Cjcjc do you have an automated alarm any time at Tory is attacked, and an automated response designed to completely miss the point when defending them?

£1,250 an hour for shitty articles is a scandal. That money could put some kids through school, which is, ironically, something Gove and his scum lot will cut down on.

“In what sense is writing articles for the Times “scandalous”?”

It gives rise to conflict of interest cases where the paper might hold off from holding its own journalists to account. I’m not keen on politicians having outside journalistic interests – more ambivalent on second jobs, where it’s a matter of time and money and conflict of interest more than hard and fast rules. I don’t think many people are arguing that the merger of politics and journalism has been good for either, frankly.

What on earth are you talking about?

The money comes from News Corp. How would it otherwise put kids through school?
Though, as Gove will pay 40% tax on it, it does in fact put kids through school!
Good news all round then!

As for the “shittiness”, as you are not paying for them yourself I would let the Times editor worry about that.

which is, ironically, something Gove and his scum lot will cut down on

Give me a f*cking break.
You haven’t swallowed the “no cuts under Labour” bollocks, surely?

It gives rise to conflict of interest cases where the paper might hold off from holding its own journalists to account.

That’s an interesting point – the DT did seem to play down BoJo’s expenses.
Fortunately we do have more than one newspaper, and generally there is nothing they like more than doing each other over, so I am not too worried about that.

At least Gove and BoJo write there own stuff.
I loathe the ghost-written platitude-stuffed articles which appear supposedly written by ministers.

Anyway, as Cameron is stopping cabinet second jobs we won’t have to worry about any of this soon enough.

Uhhh… what about the conflict of interest between being a member of the executive government and the representative parliament? Isn’t that rather more troublesome since it commits MPs to vote for government policy that they have been committed to by accepting a lucrative job? What exactly is so bad about outside interests compared with insider interests.

Not that the Tories are not (or will not end up) as crooked as New Labour. I am just feeling rather unexcited about this upcoming “scandal”. You may be barking up the wrong tree.

Put it this way, if writing for the Times is the great “scandal” which emerges then there’s not much to worry about.

Of course the biggest scandal is the jobs taken *later* by ex-ministers with firms with whom they previously had dealings.

The Tories did it in the 90’s and Labour are doing it now.

10. Denim Justice

You’re just as bad as New Labour, cjcjc, you and your stinking lot!

Still, your interventions on LibCon are entertaining! Don’t give up the day job as the head of cleaning services UK PLC though!

I always do my best to amuse.

Cjcjc is right on the Gove issue though, DJ. It’s not like he took taxpayer’s money. If anything, the taxpayer is gaining by his activity. Personally, I’m more concerned about the fact that MPs have time to have second jobs at all when their first job is funded by us.

Personally, I’m more concerned about the fact that MPs have time to have second jobs at all when their first job is funded by us

But where does this leave ministers? If it is accepted as an article of faith that the job of an MP is so all consuming that there is no time to spend an hour a week writing a column in the Times, how on earth can they find the time to run departments?

14. Praguetory

” But that scandal is likely to be over-shadowed by revelations over second-jobs, details of which are to be disclosed today. ”

Over-shadowed? You are joking I presume.

“The disclosure of outside interests is more likely to affect the Tories. ”

Because Labour MPs will be revealed as having no value in the private sector?

Tim J, v g point.

If it is accepted as an article of faith that the job of an MP is so all consuming that there is no time to spend an hour a week writing a column in the Times, how on earth can they find the time to run departments?

Either way, that’s still less incentive for a second job.

I have two problems with second jobs:

1) the time required on the side to work

2) the potential conflict of interest and outside influence.

In what sense is writing articles for the Times “scandalous”?

What about the fact he broke internal party rules?

17. Shatterface

Does it take them more time to write an article for a newspaper than run their own blog, responding to comments, etc?

When someone is being paid these large amounts, they are not actually being paid for the work that is in the job description. They are in practice being paid a retainer for other services. The question is one of outside inflence. The register of second jobs does allow us to begin to see some of these retainers, though of course sometimes the payment comes later (such as JP Morgan to Blair).

From the Waugh blog linked to:

“Mr Gove has been scrupulous about not talking about educashun in his Times columns. But he appears to have dropped his guard in Scotland on Sunday and Building mag. Will he now repay the dosh received?”

Not a red card offence somehow.

Isn’t education policy in Scotland the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament and so outside his remit as shadow education minister?

Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Christopher Wren , Admiral Cochrane and many of the great engineers and industrialists have been MPs. Surely this is the sort of expertise we shoud have in the House of Commons? One of the frequents comments about the House of Lords is that no matter what the subject is , there is normally a member who is world class expert who can talk on the subject.
If someone has set up a world class company is no that the sort of person one wants as an MP- Wedgewood, Boot, Boot, Pilkington, Cadbury, Cayzer ( largest shipping company in the World) , Guest, Keen or Nettlfield ( GKN) , Macdonald ( civil engineer and Royal Engineer ‘s officer), Heseltine( publisher and employer of Tariq Ali).

It would appear many Labour MPs have not had a career before entering politics and noone wants to employ them for their advice- only their contacts gained as a minister .

22. Charlieman

In previous eras, parliamentarians didn’t do a lot. Even for ministers, half of their working time was spent on government business and the other half was private. Whilst not doing a lot, those parliamentarians established our social service infrastructure, provided education for all, defended the nation through two world wars and the rest of it. In 1911, Churchill sailed the mediterranean in state funded cruisers for six months without attending the Commons; the result was funding of the Royal Navy prior to 1914 and the creation of an air force.

So what could parliamentarians achieve today by not doing a lot? The first thing is that they could stop meddling in local affairs (and with a bit of legislation, kill the quangos and give power to elected bodies). They could stop inventing new laws that are covered by existing ones. They could evaluate the extra-policiary bodies and the privatised policiary bodies, and clip their wings or kill them off. They could even make the police obey the law. The reality is that if government interfered less, it would achieve more, because it would only be debating real and relevant concerns.

BTW I am not convinced that MPs should spend x hours per week on casework. The fact that conscientious individuals spend time face to face with constituents or writing letters on their behalf is a symptom of centralisation; most of the problems in an MP’s post box shouldn’t be there and should be resolved by councillors (in extremis) or government officials or voluntary bodies. Thus an imperative for all MPs should be to create services that reduce their casework.

22. Charlieman. Good points. Those with experience can often warn of dangers, assess a problem and define possible solution very quickly while those without the experience miss the dangers; spend ages analysing the problem and then produce actions which wll make the situation worse. Vince Cable warned of the dangers of private, coporate and national debt in 2003. His vast experience enable him to assess the situation very quickly and his warning speech probably only lasted a few minutes.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Article: Labour MP resigns over expenses; second jobs scandal looms http://bit.ly/cYDtR





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.