I can't help feeling a touch of schadenfreude* over Derek Conway.
Some millenia ago I was shacked up with the offspring of an MP. Said MP is dead now, so no point in trying to figure out who s/he was.
There is a side of their life that the public doesn't see, and the truth is that family of an MP suffers enormously for, in theory, no reward. The MP is rarely at home; children grow up minus a parent, and if said MP's constituency is miles from London then it must be even worse. And weekends? Forget it. Apart from the constant rounds of fetes and WI meetings, there's the bloody telephone, and the damn thing never stops "my dog is stuck in the cat flap...", "my neighbour is shouting..." "I don't think the fire station is providing the right level of cover..", genuine concerns mixed up with irrelevant trivia. And who gets to answer it? The family. Because the MP is never at home. Or if there, asleep. Yes, thoughtlessly asleep in the middle of the night. Yes, even if your bloody dog is stuck in the cat flap and being shouted at by your neighbour and the fire service aren't there within 2 seconds. Even then.
I bet Conway's son had a good education at a good school. Great, but I also bet he'd have chucked that in to have a dad able to watch him play in matches, in concerts, in plays or whatever. A dad who turned up to parents evenings, and who, when he promised to turn up to something, anything, actually did. In my experience, calls from central office would have led to promise after promise lying in tatters on the floor.
I bet the boys would have preferred to have a dad who could take an active part in their lives, rather than leaving it all up to mum. A dad who was more than dimly aware of what class they were in, what GCSEs they were taking, who their friends were and so on.
And the 70 or so Tory MP's wives who work for their husbands do a hell of a lot for the money, even if they never go into the office, or write a single report. Children, post and that bloody telephone would be enough. Add-in fetes and so on and they really earn their money.
I lived with this young lady for some months. She was a cracker, really gorgeous (sorry, I digress). In all our time together, which included going out for a while, then finding a flat and then actually living together: a total of several months if not a year or more, I met the MP on about four occasions in the whole relationship, and that was for about three minutes each time. I bet if you'd asked the MP wouldn't even have known where said daughter was living, let alone who with.
So if you expect me to be pro- or even anti-Conway, you'd be half right. Of course no one should be allowed to break the law, but part of me thinks actually, you know what, they deserved a bit of something for the damage to their lives, and if a few grand helps a student get through uni, or a young man get off the ground then I don't think it's such a big deal when you consider the high price they have already had to pay. And they didn't get any choice in the matter.
The family of my MP all benefited in some pecuniary way as well as in many others; it can be very helpful to have an MP in the family. But I don't begrudge them. There have to be some compensations, and the truth is that a large part of me knows that the cost to each individual far outweighs any salary.
Dons hard hat, and ducks behind the barricade.
*You know, as I started to write this post I was going to be venal, and then schadenfreude would have been appropriate. But as I wrote and thought and wrote my views changed, so this line is totally innapproriate as the post stands. But I like it, so what the heck? I'll leave it in.