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MPs need the shake-up, not their expenses

I have been watching the current frenzy over stories of MPs expenses with a growing sense of despair. We are already facing a crisis because of the lack of respect for politicians and political processes in this country which is causing an accelerating disengagement from the democratic dialogue between citizens and Parliament. This is a cause of huge concern and should be at the forefront of MPs' minds. Instead,it seems that all too many of them have their own pockets as their first concern.
Frankly, I think what Jacqui Smith's husband watched is almost totally irrelevant. What I want to know is why does an MP even think that they can submit a Sky TV bill as a Parliamentary expense? It almost beggars belief. This might seem small fry against the huge amounts claimed for so-called second homes that are often totally unnecessary but it really does expose just how totally divorced most MPs are from the rest of us. As much as I respect many MPs I deal with, I do think that we have a real problem with the type of people who are elected to Parliament. We need a massive change of personnel at Westminster, not just an overhaul of the expenses system. A huge reduction in the number of MPs to around 450 should be a key objective of a complete review of Parliament, its role in the 21st century, the way it works and the way it and its occupants are managed.
Anything less and we will quickly reach a state of total alienation between Parliament and the people it is meant to represent.
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