Here's a press release I have just issued before setting off to Wells for a campaign day. I'd love to hear comments on this. By the way, my fingers are being crossed for a West Ham win in the playoffs this afternoon!
In a speech this evening (Saturday) to more than 120 Blakeney Conservatives Iain Dale, Conservative Candidate for North Norfolk will make a Pledge of Integrity to the people of North Norfolk. He will become the first party politician ever to make such a pledge
In his speech he will say:
"People have lost trust in politicians. There are two comments I hear time and time again, which are not directed at me personally but to politicians in general. They are "We don't believe a word any of you say" or "why should we vote, you're all the same". Politicians from all parties have got to address this growing cynicism otherwise we will end up like a banana republic. This week we have had the unedifying sight of a Conservative MP being sacked over expenses claims and a Labour Party Political Broadcast for the European elections which did not mention the subject of Eurppe but instead devoted itself to the bitterest personal attack on a party leader seen for years. So much for fighting the European elections on a positive agenda.
"I have given a great deal of thought in recent months to how I can personally address this cynicism about politicians and show to people that in me they will elect someone who is different - who has a high personal moral compass, a person of obvious integrity and complete openness. I have therefore started drawing up a Pledge of Integrity which I will make to the people of North Norfolk. I will publish it in full in a future issue of my newspaper, North Norfolk Matters, and people can draw their own conclusions about what sort of person they are voting for. I will pledge:-
* never to solicit or accept a company directorship while serving as an MP
* to publish in detail any expense I reclaim while in the pursuit of my parliamentary duties
* to tell people my real views even when I know they will disagree with me
* never knowingly to claim credit for something when the credit is not mine
* never to employ any member of my family in my parliamentary office
* to live in the constituency (as I do now) and make my main home among the community I serve
* never to promise what I know I cannot deliver
* never to waste taxpayers' money by tabling pointless Early Day Motions or asking Parliamentary Questions for the sake of it (Note: each written PQ costs the taxpayer £250 and EDM's at least £500)
* never to use taxpayers' money via the Parliamentary Office Cost Allowance to promote party political activity
Iain continues: "I make these pledges so people can see that I intend to be honest and transparent. As public figures our conduct not only has to be impeccable, it has to be seen to be impeccable. By making this pledge to the people of North Norfolk I am doing something that no politician has ever done before, so far as I am aware, and I realise I am setting myself up to be judged. I will not let people down."
Will you be encouraging neighbouring MP's to sign up to your pledge?
I note that all Norfolk Tory MPs with the honourable exception of Richard Bacon, are currently in breach of your first pledge according to the latest Register of Members' Interests: Keith Simpson (Mid Norfolk) is on the board of Eric Morris Consultancy Limited; Gillian Shepherd (SW Norfolk) is on the board of Coventry Building Society and is paid as "senior political advisor" to the D Group; Henry Bellingham (NW Norfolk) lists directorships with Glencara Estate Co, White Knight Investments PLC, Lansdown Advisory Ltd and Longborough Capital PLC. I further note that your former leader, Iain Duncan Smith famously employed his wife in breach of another of your pledges.
I am sure you are personally sincere on this matter, but I am not sure what your pledge says about your colleagues.
James, Obviously I speak for myself. I have thought a great deal about this. I know that the way I will do the job will leave no room for any outside interests. I know people will be cynical, but I mean it. It's almost a full time job being a candidate so I can't imagine there will be any more time as an MP! I'm happy to be judged on my actions.
Iain, I was not questioning your personal integrity at all. My concern is what it says about your colleagues and their numerous paid outside interests. Are you saying that they lack integrity? Or that their constituency work suffers due to their paid outside interests? Or that their duties as company directors cannot be carried out properly? I would also be interested to hear about what you intend to do about your existing business interests. Finally, although you speak for yourself (as you say) you are also a Conservative representative speaking for your party in Norfolk and nationally. Have you taken up your concerns about colleagues' outside interests with Mrs Shepherd, Mr Simpson and Mr Bellingham, and with Central Office? If so, how have they responded?
James, As I say, I speak for no one but myself. Each MP does his or her job in their own way and I am certainly not criticising any of my Norfolk colleagues for the way they do theirs. Of course I am not saying they lack integrity - don't try and be clever. Gillian S and Keith S are very good friends of mine. We do not operate a Stalinist control system in the Conservative Party. Just because I choose to do one thing does not mean it should be mandatory for everyone else. I think all of my Norfolk colleagues are regarded as assiduous constituency MPs. As I have no concerns of the kind you mention I have not talked to CCO. This initiative is entirely off my own bat and something I have been thinking of doing for some time to address the growing cynicism among the electorate about politicians of all parties. Rather than nitpick in this way it's a pity you don't find it refreshing that someone in my position is prepared to do it!
As regards my own business interests you may be aware that I part own and run an online bookshop business, something which has no conflict with any parliamentary duties. I sold my publishing company a year ago and have resigned as a director of a website company, which I retain a minor shareholding in. I also have an income from the media as a political commentator and radio presenter. Can't be more open than that, can I?
Gosh. I don't mean to touch a nerve, but you did say you'd love to hear comments. I guess a lot of people reading your pledge might wrongly come to the conclusion that you plan to give up your existing business interests and paid radio work, so you might want to make it clearer in your constituency newspaper.
On a lighter note, any views on Eurovision? A fair result I thought (though sorry to see a decent Belarussian song go out in the semis). Tel was on form, but I think he was off the mark with his remarks on Turkey's entry, which I found refreshing.
James, no nerve touched. I'm nerveless! I don't think anyone would expect me to give up totally a business I have invested a lot of time and effort in. It's more a labour of love than anything else anyway really. And the day to day work is done by others anyway nowadays. All my time is being spent up here! Tonight I am making the ultimate sacrifice by attending Tunstead Parish Council rather than go to Upton Park to watch West Ham thrash the a**e off Ipswich!
Thank God youve introduced a lighter note. Personally I liked the Cypriot entry, although when I heard her being interviewed on 5 Live on Saturday morning she was monosyllabic. The Ukraine performance reminded me of the German entry in the early 1980s (1980?) by a group called Dschingis Khan. Quite liked the Polish one too. Ours was awful. Again.
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