An honorable start has been made by a small number of backbench Parliamentary Labour Party members to help restore trust with their constituents. These include:
Margaret Moran MP for Luton South is reported to have agreed to repay in full money claimed on her Southampton home, some 100 miles from her constituency.
The Press Association reported that said she was repaying the full amount claimed for the house in Southampton that she shares with her partner as a result of "constituents' anger at the current fees regime".
Her husband works in the south coast port.
Meanwhile in the North, the Newcastle Journal reports:
Blyth Valley MP Ronnie Campbell apologised to his constituents for using allowances to buy furniture for a second home in London, which he moved into around five years ago.
He declared: “I am very sorry, I shouldn’t have claimed for it.”
Neither featured yesterday in the PoliticsHome 100 'Sleaze Meter' poll.
The reputational bar was raised for the 'flippers' - MPs making capital gains from exploiting the current Parliamentary Allowances regime for second homes - by Labour MP John Mann, who has spearheaded calls for expenses to be reformed. He has been widely reported warning in a thinly disguised reference to Labour cabinet minister, the right honourable Hazel Blears MP:
'I tell you what: any Labour MP who isn't paying capital gains tax should not be a Labour MP.
Tax avoidance in the Labour Party is unacceptable.'
Personally, I am not impressed by Conservative Party leader, David Cameron's bravado in reportedly threatening to withdraw the whip if excessive claims are not repaid.
I think the first test should, rightly, be individual conscience. That will help both the electorate and local party activists decide what sort of person they are either voting or campaigning for as their representative in Parliament. Action to deal with those sitting Labour MPs who fail it should follow swiftly, irrespective of whether they are seeking re-election. It is less than 3-1/2 weeks until the Euro-elections.
That is why I think Moran and Campbell deserve a modicum of respect. The real hero of the whole sorry tale is Moran's constituency neighbour Luton North MP and Campaign Group stalwart, Kelvin Hopkins - his home is in Luton and he commutes to London daily to undertake his parliamentary duties.
UPDATE 1400 For a peek at the Opposition see what ConservativeHome addicts are saying here. Note the centrist personalised headline. I wonder if we, in the Labour Party, can be more democratic?