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George, Vince and the plight of our fishermen

October 15, 2009 12:55 PM

It's the end of the 76 day parliamentary recess.

Yes, you read it right - 76 days.

MPs are returning to Westminster to pick up their letters from Sir Thomas Legg. The expenses debacle is back in the news again.

At a time when the public finances are so tight, and George Osborne has announced that a Conservative Government would require public sector workers earning over £18,000 to take a pay freeze, there will surely be another backlash - and political heads may have to roll.

It is inevitable. If the public is to start to regain any sort of trust in parliamentarians, 'retirements' may have to accompany fat cheques.

But back to George for a minute…

I know it's not fair, and people can't help the way they look. But don't you think he has a real B-movie-villain thing going on? Wrap a black satin cloak around him, and throw in a pair of party fangs, and - perfect: the Count.

Except, of course, that he can't count. So says the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. His planned efficiencies are £3 billion out.

Contrast George's message with that of Vince Cable - properly costed, and making real inroads into the structural deficit.

Whilst the Lib Dems have also bitten the bullet and agreed that a public sector pay freeze must come before cuts in services, Vince's main focus will be the colossal and undesirable expenditure that the Government has intended for schemes such as the renewal of Trident and the hapless plan for ID cards.

But let's be clear, it won't just be coal face public sector workers (like myself) that will be fuming as MPs plead injustice about the expenses repayments, and bankers continue to receive their bonuses. It will be every hard-working family who is struggling to bring home enough money in the recession.

Over the last few months I have been working in partnership with our local fishermen to lobby the Labour Government to give the under-10s a fair percentage of the quota - so that they don't have to throw dead fish back in to the sea, and so they can survive the choppy economic waters that surround us all.

Tim Farron MP, the Lib Dem Shadow on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will be putting down an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons on 20 October in their support; to bring this gross injustice to the attention of the nation.

With the uproar regarding MPs' expenses nationally, and the excitement of both Hastings Week and the 'Taste of Rye' Festival locally, we must not lose our focus on the fishermen.

At the moment, they must be our priority; and we must not rest until their future is secure.

[14 October 2010 Observer column by Nick Perry, Parliamentary Campaigner for Hastings & Rye - see]