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11:27am on Sunday, 3rd February, 2008:

All in the Family


I rather like the fact that in the UK we can still get uppity about MPs engaging in nepotism. In the USA, Bill Clinton could make his wife a high-flying member of his administration and not only were people accepting of it, they liked the idea that the First Lady wasn't just a social ornament along the lines of Prince Charles. Here in the UK, though, there's at least some sense that employing members of your family to do nothing at public expense might be a little naughty. OK, so if anyone other than an MP had siphoned off money this way then they'd be looking at a gaol sentence for fraud rather than "stepping down" at the next election, but our great leaders have to draw the line somewhere.

It transpires that over 70 Conservative MPs employ family members (that is, over a third of all Conservative MPs). Even David Cameron himself employs his sister-in-law to deal with his correspondence, although that's out of Conservative funds, not taxes wrenched from ordinary people .

I do have to say, though, that I'm not actually against employing family members in general. If I wanted to set up Bartle and Daughter ("horses for slaughter") as a company, why shouldn't I? It only becomes an issue when the money used to pay employees is not that belonging to the person who decided to employ them. If I want to pay my wife to work for me and she does no work at all, then that's my loss; if I want to employ my wife to work for Essex University and she does no work for me, that's the university's loss and I should be called to account.

Besides, even MPs can fall in love with their secretaries. If they subsequently marry, should they be made to sack them? Well, no.

Hmm, then again...

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Copyright © 2008 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).