Play the world’s smallest violin for Mark Simmonds MP

What planet does the MP for Boston and Skegness actually live on?

What planet does the MP for Boston and Skegness actually live on?

MP bashing can certainly go too far at times. Cynics enjoy lamenting our MPs for being ‘all the same’ when it reality they aren’t. Many work incredibly hard for their constituents and they really could earn more money outside of Parliament.

That said, what on earth is Tory Foreign Office minister (now ex-minister) Mark Simmonds thinking?

Simmonds quit his job at the Foreign Office yesterday over what he called the “intolerable” expenses rules that had apparently forced him to choose between his family and his parliamentary career.

Despite receiving a rental allowance of £27,875 a year, plus £2,500 for each of his three children, plus £89,435 a year (he also employs his wife at a cost of £25,000 of public money) Simmonds maintains that he cannot afford to house his family in London:

“The allowances that enable members of parliament to stay in London while they are away from their families – my family lives in Lincolnshire in my constituency – does not allow me to rent a flat that could accommodate my family. So I very rarely see my family and I have to put family life first and every single parent listening to this will hopefully understand,” he told the BBC.”

According to the Guardian, a spokesperson from the expenses watchdog Ipsa pointed out that Simmonds had never actually tried to claim for a flat, but had instead claimed thousands of pounds in hotel fees.

The paper also reports that last year Simmonds was the most expensive MP in Lincolnshire after it was calculated that he had claimed £173,436.96 in expenses.

Which all begs the question: what planet does Mark Simmonds actually live on?

Seriously though, last year one million people had to use a food bank to get something to eat. This year most working people are still getting poorer as inflation continues to outpace average pay. Simmonds also just happens to be a member of a government that is demanding disabled people pay a bedroom tax or move out of their social housing; and yet here he is demanding his own ‘spare room subsidy’ so his children can stay in a second home during the school holidays.

The sheer sense of entitlement is the thing that grates the most. Simmonds goes on to say:

“Of course if MPs want to get into the business of travelling extensively from Westminster to the outer reaches of London to rent a flat then that’s up to them but that’s not the lifestyle I want and it’s not the lifestyle I have chosen for myself or I want for my family.”

In other words, instead of getting on the tube or the bus like the rest of us, Mr Simmonds believes it would be perfectly kosher for the taxpayer to subsidise a ‘lifestyle’ that includes a top piece of Westminster real estate. It’s a bit like saying that driving a car has become ‘intolerable’ because it isn’t a Porshe, and then expecting people one low and middling salaries to chip in to make things more bearable.

Sorry, but this isn’t hardship. Nor is it ‘intolerable’. It merely ever-so-slightly annoying, but no more annoying than the travails experienced by the vast majority of Londoners on a daily basis.

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