WHEN I first started teaching in 1970 I was advised it was not a good idea to keep the whole class in detention for the misbehaviour of a few.
The same is true of politicians today. We should be careful of dismissing all politicians for the indiscretions of a handful.
When I was first elected to Parliament in 1992, senior Labour members recalled the days when the only expenses they received was their travel to and from their constituency.
There was no second home allowance so they boarded the night sleeper to their constituency and returned on the same train in the morning.
Hardly an ideal way of arriving fresh in the Commons to represent your constituents’ interests.
Wealthy MPs had second homes in London and secretarial help that they paid for themselves. But the system heavily favoured the moneyed classes who objected to MPs having any form of extra assistance.
In that way, poorer people were put off becoming MPs and were less effective if they were elected.
In the present debate about MPs’ expenses let us not forget that the majority of MPs, including our local members, are decent people working long hours for the interests of their constituents.
So in whose interests is it that some commentators would have us believe ‘all politicians are the same’?
I would suggest it is the same people with personal wealth who objected years ago to ordinary working people being represented in Parliament.
So let us be careful in this current debate. Yes, we should condemn wrongdoing but we should not assume that all our elected representatives are the same. If we do, then the good and decent may decide that politics is not for them. The question then would be, who would replace them?
David was a Labour MP and Government Minister who now lives in Olton