One man, one job

MOST people remember from school history lessons, that the Chartists who marched on Newport 164 Years ago last month were fighting for one man one vote.
Less well remembered is their call for payment of MPs.

They believed that working people would be unable to afford to be elected to Parliament, unless they received a salary.

It took another 70 years before payments started, but for a long time afterwards, at least on the Conservative side of the House, parliament was regarded as a part time job to be pursued in the afternoons and evenings after a morning working in the City.

A few weeks ago I was astonished to discover that Oliver Letwin, the new Shadow Chancellor, was still employed by Rothschilds, the famous City of London Bank, despite speaking for the opposition on financial affairs.

It is a free country and there is nothing illegal about doing two jobs.

But I asked the question in the House of Commons and on Radio Four's Today programme,

"How can someone claim to speak in the interest of the British people on pensions, saving, privatisation etc, when he is also the employee of a major City Institution?"

In politics perception is everything, yet at first he refused to step down from his City job.

I then discovered, by putting down parliamentary questions, that Rothschilds has many lucrative contracts with the Government.

This week he gave in to the inevitable and gave up his directorship with Rothschilds.

It is a decision which one national broadsheet newspaper has speculated could cost him an incredible £300,000 per year.

It is a privilege to be an MP, not a hobby.

Oliver Letwin's belated decision is the right one, but I don't anticipate that I will be receiving a Christmas card.