Earlier this week the news broke, that Rochford & Southend East’s MP James Duddridge claimed £11,000 in the last year on accomodation costs. This was, apparently, split between renting a flat and hotel bills. Except, James Duddridge not only lives within an hour’s train journey of London, but he owns two flats in the capital, which he rents out.
Since then I’ve been trying in vain to get a response out of Mr Duddridge. He is happy to tweet insipid lines-to-take straight from CCHQ. But answering constituents’ questions? Not so much.
Fortunately Ian Gilbert, the Labour candidate for Rochford & Southend East, has had the fortitude to actually say something on this matter: Ian has promised that, if elected as the constituency’s new MP, he won’t claim accommodation expenses.
“At a time when the people of Rochford and Southend East are struggling through the cost of living crisis, the extravagance of James Duddridge claiming £11,000 to stay in hotels, despite owning two properties in London, is almost beyond belief. MPs are public servants, and it is not right for them to live the life of luxury on taxpayer’s money.
“There’s no way on earth I would claim accommodation expenses whilst my constituents were being hit by the bedroom tax. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.”
Now, on the one hand this is pretty obvious. Southend is not by any stretch far from London; the commute is one which I and many other residents make every day. But, apparently, this level of entitlement has become standard for James Duddridge.
The other day I highlighted a number of facts, including the welfare ‘reforms’ and other regressive measures which Mr Duddridge has happily voted through, making life all the more difficult for ordinary people. And yet he feels its his ‘right’ to claim an amount of money which would be life changing for most people, so that he can live a life of luxury.
I know Ian Gilbert. I know he is sincere when he says that he could not contemplate claiming such money whilst the people he represented were struggling. That’s a rare commodity in politics these days — as James Duddridge is demonstrating.
It’s still a long road to the elections next May, but it is clear that Ian Gilbert, and the Labour Party, are the best and only alternative to James Duddridge and Tory entitlement.