Remember Margaret Moran, the Labour MP for Luton South who claimed a second home allowance in Southampton? It seems the strain of the last few months has begun to tell. Since the Labour Party Star Chamber summarily dumped her, and she announced she would not stand at the next election, she has gone on long term sick leave. So far, this has lasted for close on two months.
Naturally, one has every sympathy with anyone who is genuinely ill, but Ms Moran's constituents are starting to revolt. They are claiming they are not bein represented and that constituency casework is not being handled properly. Moran's staff say that her office is dealing with everything that comes their way but it is impossible for them to be getting proper service from an MP who is not present and is aparently too ill to pick up a phone to make representations on behalf of her constituents. Some of her constituents are now turning to Conservative candidate Nigel Huddleston, who is dealing with a whole series of issues which would normally be handled by the MP.
Often in these circumstances, a neighbouring MP will take over the casework, but Moran is known not to get on with Kelvin Hopkins, her neighbour from Luton North.
The local media is now starting to agitate for Ms Moran to vacate her seat now and cause a by-election. She is, however, unlikely to do that as it would involve losing the £30k resettlement allowance she would be entitled to if she waited until a general election is called.
Unfortunately for Ms Moran's constituents, there is little they can do to force her out. Even if Labour withdrew the party whip from her, she is perfectly entitled to stay until the next election, be paid in full, and do absolutely no work at all if she chooses to.