Over the last few weeks, lots of people have told me that they’re not going to vote at the next election because “you politicians are all the same”.
I can understand people feeling like that - MPs from all parties have abused the trust we placed in them.
It isn’t actually true though. A few MPs appear to have committed fraud (if so, they should be charged just like anyone else would be). Many more have claimed for things that are not necessary to do the job even if they are allowed under the rules (which, let’s remember, MPs drew up). But some have behaved honourably.
Over the last few weeks, I have been thinking about what I can say to convince people - many of whom don't know me - that if they place their trust in me at the next election, I won't let them down.
I could say that I am just as angry about what has happened as you no doubt are. But anyone can say they’re angry.
I could tell you that I am not standing to be an MP for personal gain. But again, anyone can say that.
I have therefore decided to make seven specific commitments about how I would do the job:
1. Whatever the rules, I will only claim for what’s necessary to do the job well. Allowances are there to cover costs incurred, not as extra salary.
2. In particular, I won’t have a second home in Westminster. Lots of Croydon Central residents work in central London and they all have to commute - why should our MP be any different? Coming home to Croydon every night will be better for me and my family and it will enable me to do the job better because I will be using the same services day in, day out as the people I am elected to represent.
3. To enable you to check that I am keeping my promises - and what I am doing more generally - I will publish online:
- my income;
- details of every claim I make against Parliamentary allowances as I submit them;
- who I am employing with my staffing allowance and what they do;
- details of any meetings with lobbyists; and
- my diary so that you can see exactly what I am doing on your behalf. At the moment, websites like www.theyworkforyou.com allow you to check your MP’s voting record, questions they’ve asked, speeches they’ve made and Early Day Motions they’ve signed but you have a right to know what they are doing when Parliament is not in session as well.
4. I won’t use the staffing allowance to employ any members of my immediate family.
5. I’ll hold monthly surgeries in central Croydon and New Addington - and if people need to see me urgently in between surgeries, I will make myself available.
6. Since I was selected, I have knocked on thousands of doors across the constituency to introduce myself personally. I’ll continue doing this - and attending Residents Association meetings - so that I get to meet people face to face and hear any concerns they have.
7. I’ll hold regular public meetings at which people can question me about my performance, my voting record and my expenses.
I am standing to be an MP because, as a local resident and father of two young children, I want to make Croydon a better place to live. I hope these commitments convince you that if you place your trust in me I will not abuse it. Let me know what you think - and what else I could do to win your trust.