Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Lib Dems going that extra mile

Holyrood may not play host to troughing on the scale of Westminster, but it's still got that distinctive air of the gravy train about it, and one which hasn't quite hit the buffers yet.

The Sun got suitably worked up recently about former Lib Dem MSP Keith Raffan, who resigned six years ago following the exposure of his intergalactic mileage claim. He justified his departure on health grounds, which meant he receives a yearly pension of £15,000.

But he's back working on TV in Wales and as a writer, and the Holyrood authorities are powerless to stop his nice little earner, which of course is around three grand more per annum than someone grafting a 40-hour week for the minimum wage. Nice 'work' if you can get it.

Another Lib Dem in the news recently was former Scottish party leader Nicol Stephen, who resigned his position in 2008 to spend more time with his family, sort of thing. But now he's been handed a peerage, and will presumably take his seat in the House of Lords following May's Holyrood elections, when Mr Stephen is standing down.

But as the Courier's political diary points out, on resigning the Scottish Lib Dem leader position he claimed that as an MSP "representing a constituency well away from Edinburgh, I have been away from home at least four working days each week", but "the health and wellbeing of your family has got to come first" and "with four children between the ages of 4 and 12, my family has got to be my priority".

So what's changed in the intervening two years? Is the peerage just a frippery for services rendered, or will Mr Stephen's family be sidelined? Or will they be uplifted to London when they couldn't make the move to Edinburgh a couple of years ago?

As he said following his resignation, "That other cliché is for a politician to say he is looking forward to spending more time with his family. In my case it happens to be true."

So it was a cliché after all then?

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