Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Suspended Labour MP Eric Illsley to resign as MP after being found guilty, Ed Miliband takes the time to be opportunistic to grab votes

Dear All

Eric Illsley is to quit as an MP after pleading guilty on Tuesday to dishonestly claiming parliamentary expenses.

For him, Parliament and the public, it is the right move.

Although the general rule of thumb is to make political capital out of this, there is nothing to celebrate.

And less we forget; the jobs of his staff are now under threat as well.

They done nothing wrong but they are paying a penalty for his actions.

The MP for Barnsley Central had come under pressure to step down after admitting £14,000 of expenses fraud.

Labour leader Ed Miliband was among those to urge Illsley, who has yet to be sentenced, to quit.

He did it to make political capital, sheer opportunism on his part.

Illsley has apologised to his constituents, saying he "deeply regretted" his actions.

In a statement issued by his office, Illsley said:

"I would like to apologise to my constituents, family and friends, following my court appearance, for the distress and embarrassment caused by my actions that I deeply, deeply regret. I have begun to wind down my parliamentary office, following which I will resign from Parliament before my next court appearance. I will be making no further comment."

Illsley's decision will trigger a by-election in the Barnsley Central constituency.

If Illsely hadn’t resigned then Senior Labour backbenchers had also threatened to use parliamentary procedure to expel him from the House of Commons unless he decided to quit voluntarily.

And given the nature of the offence, cross party support would be expected.

Commons Speaker John Bercow ruled on Wednesday that expulsion could not happen until after sentencing which will not take place for four weeks because the matter was still sub judice.

Under current Parliamentary rules, an MP would to forfeit their seat if they are jailed for more than a year.

I don’t think given the David Chaytor incident of him getting 18 months that Illsley could limp on because I don’t see a lesser sentence on the cards.

Eric Illsley is the only current MP to have been charged in relation to his expenses.

He leaves public office in disgrace.

Someone who had everything, a marvellous opportunity to do good but in the end was consumed by a culture of greed and entitlement.

Politics aside, it is a sad end!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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