Monday, 29 June 2009

Echo goes big on Milburn

Although the headline in today's Echo is, "MP 'not quitting over jobs scrutiny'", the subsequent articles, based largely around my letter published in the paper on Friday, various blog postings of my own, and an interview with Alan himself, should leave no-one in any doubt that the Echo clearly believes the second (and third, fourth, fifth and sixth jobs) scandal is at the heart of Alan's decision. They list his outside earnings three times in different articles this morning.

The expected clamp-down on Labour MPs' ability to rake in vast sums of money in outside earnings will hit our Alan so hard in the pocket that I'm sure this is a large reason for deciding this is the time to stand down. And, of course, after being at the centre of Government and so close to the action for so long, the thought of years in the wilderness in a rump of Labour MPs (assuming he were to be re-elected, which would have been unlikely, frankly) cannot have filled his waking hours with joy.

The Echo certainly believes MPs should be doing the job for which they were elected, not dallying with a variety of money-spinning outside interests.

To quote just one paragraph from the paper's Comment column this morning, "As part of the very necessary cleansing of Parliament's reputation, the country must be reassured that MPs are fully focused on working for the people who elected them, and that there are no conflicts of interest in their second, third, fourth or fifth jobs."

Alan's achievements are given appropriate coverage, especially his various fights for justice for local people and his work as Health Secretary to ensure that the scandal of year-long waiting lists for heart operations be ended. I remember all too clearly when the catalyst for this initiative, Ian Weir, died while waiting for his heart operation. It was just a few weeks before my wife died and my kids were at school (in the same class) as Ian's.

It's a shame that Alan's ability to "make a difference", as he describes it, has been tarnished by a later reputation around the town as someone who used his elected position for personal financial gain.

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