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New Rules On MP Expenses Emerges

Aug 3, 2009, 7:46 AM | Article By: Alhagie Mbye our UK correspondent

UK Ruling Party Loses Vital Election

The ruling Labour Party in the United Kingdom has lost a vital by- election in Norwich North constituency in favour of the opposition Conservatives, following widespread prediction that the ruling party may lose such position to its rivals. According to known experts, this is not due to 'incompetence by the current government but merely as a result of the expense scandal and the economic slow-down'.

Most importantly, the absolutely free and vibrant British Press continues to be a torn in the flesh of politicians scrutinising them in all aspects, including not only what MPs say or do, but also to see to it officials maintain their own responsibilities towards the masses. However, Parliament still maintains that it was the duty of the press to do so whenever it is suspicious of any wrong doing in government or society, and as a result, the scrutiny continues.

The by- election ended and the winning Tory candidate, a 27-year-old lady, called Chloe Smith, shocked the ruling party for turning a \t "_blank" Labour majority of 5,000 votes. She swept a majority of more than 7,000 for her party and became the youngest MP in the Commons. Labour hold on to second place with 6,243.

The Liberal Democrat candidate, April Pond came third with 4,803 votes, while the UK Independence Party came fourth. The Conservative leader, David Cameron hailed the Tories' by-election victory in Norwich North as a 'historic result' for his party.

Perhaps most interestingly and shocking for Labour is the fact that Norwich North was a stronghold for the ruling party and a seat that has been controlled by Labour for 45 of the last 60 years.

The constituency have some qualified voters of West African origin and a well-known West African commentator and broadcaster who spoke to the Point after the votes argues that most Labour supporters decided to 'stay at home in protest'.

Explaining such reasons he maintained that some are protesting against the expenses claim, while other angered by Labour's alleged treatment of Ian Gibson, who stood down as an MP. He popularly stepped down after Labour insisted that he would not be allowed to stand for the party at the next election.

The MP had a 5,459 majority at the last election in 2005, but was recently accused of 'using parliamentary expenses to fund a flat that he subsequently sold to his daughter at a discount'.

Even though he denied the charges and maintained that everything was done in a 'transparent manner and in line with the rules of Parliament' he soon resigned and paved way for the by-election. Reports indicated that his supporters believe he should have been allowed a second chance, and thus decided to stay home refusing to vote.

Despite the disappointing results for Labour, some experts are still supportive of its policies and defended that due to the current economic downturn; Prime Minister Gordon Brown was busy trying to resolve such important issue and had introduced a new Code of Conduct for such expenses claim, as well as trying to convince voters that the economic situation is global and must not be used against his government.

Responding to the by-election news few hours later, Brown admitted it was a 'disappointing result but no party could take a great deal of cheer from it because all three of the main parties had lost votes'.

However, if the same trend continues, experts predicted that this could mean that Labour may suffer a general election defeat in the future, prompting senior government minister calling a new 'strategy and tactic'.

Few days prior to the election, an official report from the House of Commons Members Estimate Committee reveals the current system of expenses claim. The new rules now get rid of what the press called 'the worse excesses'. Currently, the allowance for second homes is now far less than previously and the new figure is halved for MPs in outer London boroughs.

In her acceptance speech, Chloe Smith paid tribute to her predecessor and said: 'He was a strong independent voice' and pledged to represent the people of Norwich North with the same honesty and conviction as he had.

Despite some opinion polls against Labour trailing behind the Conservatives, many voters believe that such prediction cannot be entirely relied upon, as according to them, in politic a year or two ahead of election is a long way to go.

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