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PAY PEANUTS...GET MPS

20-05-2009

Dr David Nicholl and Julie Kirkbride MP

There’s a campaign to oust Bromsgrove MP Julie Kirkbride following revelations about her expenses claim, but one of her constituents Dr David Nicholl, wouldn’t be queuing up to replace her. He can't afford the pay cut.

My local MP, Julie Kirkbride, has been pilloried over the use of the expenses system by the way in which she and her husband have covered paying the cost of their mortgage(s), but would I be any better as an independent MP?

I certainly think I would be a better MP, and cheaper (Ms Kirkbride came out as 317th out of 645 MPs), whereas Dr Richard Taylor, the independent MP for Kidderminster came out as 640th out of 645 for expense claims.

No party whip system would put up with my outspoken views and I’m quite happy to take on any vested interest- whether that is the current Labour government or even my local Tory council.

My manifesto is available for all to see on the Stirrer web site (at no cost!), clearly I’m not scared to take on difficult subjects and stand up for people who have no-one to represent them as well as have a good debate. Yet, despite several people having suggested it, I would never stand as an MP.

Why would I want to be an MP, when I am doing a job I love, medicine. In my spare time, I get to highlight areas of political interest via the Stirrer. Bizarrely, I’m on the front page of the local paper over the Omar Deghayes story - I suspect Ms Kirkbride will be adorning next weeks copy for very different reasons.

Lets face it, MPs are now thought of as being the equivalent of fraudsters in the public’s estimation, and I’d rather have the respect of my patients rather than the scorn of constituents and a brick through my window.

However, isn’t that rather sad? After all one of the faults of the current system is that there is a distinct lack of people who have done proper jobs in Parliament.

If you have done nothing but a politics degree, worked as a Parliamentary aide and then got into Parliament in a ‘safe seat’, is it any wonder why so many of the current MPs have abused the system? (To be fair to Ms Kirkbride, she had worked as a journalist for quite a period before entering politics)

As one of my friends commented “Someone like Julie Kirkbride would be quaking in her boots if you ever stood against her”. Marina Hyde in the Guardian on Saturday said “imagine 50 Dr Taylors taking the seats of our bovine MPs”, Martin Bell on the Today programme argued that now was the time for independent people to stand as MPs.

On the other hand it is easy for someone like Dr Taylor to stand as an independent - he is retired from the NHS, so can manage quite nicely on an MP’s salary of £63,000 as well as an NHS pension.

For me, with a young family, that would be a significant cut in salary- this would be career and financial suicide - even if I could do the job at a fraction of Ms Kirkbride’s ‘expenses’ (£147,165 for Ms Kirkbride versus £86,484 for Dr Taylor for the last year that there are available records).

I appreciate that a £63,000 salary is a lot of money in the current climate - but would point out that it is a fraction of what many of the national journalists covering this story will be paid.

But if this is what is putting off decent ordinary people from taking on the current incumbents - shouldn’t we change the system? So would I ever stand as an MP - yes….but come back in 21 years when I retire, my wife would leave me for a second home if I did it anytime soon!

In the meantime I’ll stick with NHS politics and the Stirrer for now.

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