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Just what have our MPs been up to?

You might have noticed political flyers coming through your door these past few months, brimming with earnest messages and pledges by MP wannabes in a bid to win your vote. We thought we’d take a look behind the political spiel at some of what our MPs have been up to.

Edition 3

Words by Joanne Ball. Design by Adam Wilkinson.

You might have noticed political flyers coming through your door these past few months, brimming with earnest messages and pledges by MP wannabes in a bid to win your vote.We thought we’d take a look behind the political spiel at some of what our MPs have been up to. This is by no means a comprehensive list of their work; it’s more a snapshot of some of the low-lights your MP might have counted on you forgetting.

Charlotte Leslie (Bristol North West, Conservative, MP since 2010)

(Standing for re-election)

“I believe politics should first and foremost be about _ getting _ stuff done – not petty party-politics”

  • Apologised to Parliament for failing to register donations of £28,000 to her local Conservative Association. Although Leslie was cleared of breaking parliamentary rules, questions were raised as to whether there was a connection between the £17,000 of these donations made by David Ord, of the Bristol Port Company, and the three parliamentary written questions she submitted about the Severn barrage – which Bristol Port Company hired lobbyists to fight.
  • Received donations from the United and Cecil Club – a secretive private club registered at a stables in the Home Counties. Not much is known about the club’s activities, other than its grand dinners and its vital role in channelling donations from often unidentifiable donors to Tory party constituencies.
  • In February 2015, reversed her pledge to give back £5,000 from hedge fund donor Hugh Sloane, after discovering he had merely tried to avoid paying tax, rather than successfully evaded paying tax. “Nobody wants to take money that’s not whiter than white,” Leslie said.
  • Voted in favour of fracking. In January 2015 someone grafittied “Fracking Whore” on her constituency office. “I understand why people are upset by fracking, [but] if we want to keep our lifestyles as they currently are we do need a new source of energy,” Leslie told the Bristol Post.
  • Received online allegations of nepotism when her father was elected as her party’s constituency Chairman.
  • Spoke out against community group TRASH’s opposition to the proposal for a new Sainsbury’s on the current Memorial Ground site. She said: “I am a champion of independent shops and I believe that in many cases they thrive because of supermarkets, not in spite of them.”
  • Voted against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices.**
  • Voted against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work because of illness or disability.
  • Voted against increasing the tax rate applied to income over £150,000.
  • Voted against a bankers’ bonus tax.
Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East, Labour, MP since 2005)
(Standing for re-election)

 

  • In 2010 Labour’s former ‘Twitter Tsar’ was cautioned by police for electoral fraud after illegally revealing postal vote results on the social media channel in April 2010. McCarthy, a qualified solicitor, said: “It was thoughtless and I didn’t realise it was official information.”
  • In 2013 claimed £625.26 for electricity – the highest of any Bristol MP. “I can see that when people are struggling to pay their own bill they see someone getting something paid for them and think it’s unfair,” she said. “I suppose it comes down to whether you think MPs need a second home to do their job.”
  • Between 2005 and 2008 often claimed a full allowance of £400 per month in food allowance and in 2005/6 claimed £4,344 on furnishing her London flat, which she bought in 2005. Her explanation? “When you get elected, you ask the older hands what you do and they were quite adamant that you should claim for this or that because that’s what you were entitled to.”
  • Voted against an investigation into the Iraq war.
  • Voted against measures to reduce tax avoidance.
  • Voted for a stricter asylum system.
  • Voted for the mass collection and retention of private communications.

Stephen Williams (Bristol West, Lib Dem, MP since 2005)

(Standing for re-election)

  • Despite sitting on the Members’ Expenses Committee, Williams was embroiled in a scandal after expenses were used to rent a flat owned by former Lib Dem MP Baroness Tonge. She in turn also claimed the mortgage interest for the property on her expenses before she retired as an MP. Her mortgage was apparently between £650 and £850 a month while she was in the Commons, but she charged Mr Williams £1,550 a month, which meant that ultimately the taxpayer contributed the difference to Tonge’s property.
  • Claimed £319.50 in 2014 for an employee’s designer glasses.
  • Despite starting a petition to end arms sales to Israel, Williams received donations from the Israeli government for trips to Israel and the West Bank in 2013.
  • Voted against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices.
  • Voted against paying higher benefits over longer periods to people unable to work due to illness or disability.
  • Voted yes to the bedroom tax.
  • Voted against spending public money to create guaranteed jobs for long-term unemployed young people.
  • Voted against increasing the tax rate applied to income over £150,000.
  • Voted against a bankers’ bonus tax.
  • Voted against the mansion tax.
  • Voted strongly for reducing the rate of corporation tax.

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