A CONSERVATIVE MP has opened his heart on the pain of being branded ‘shameless’ for accepting a £29,000 ‘golden goodbye’ after he stepped down from the Welsh Assembly.
Alun Cairns told WNN he wished his jealous political opponents would stop targeting him for simply accepting the rewards of his dedication to public service. The Vale of Glamorgan MP has previously been criticised for collecting a second home allowance while a member of the Assembly.
Political rivals have now rounded on Mr Cairns after he explained that he had accepted a £29,000 pay off when he left the Assembly ahead of May’s elections. The hard-working MP had been doubling up at both jobs – while selflessly only accepting his MP’s salary – following his election to Parliament at the 2010 general election.
He told us: “I have not taken an AM’s salary for the last year but have received the resettlement grant after 12 years’ service. It’s no different to what we’ll see over the coming year as public spending cuts see lots of other unnecessary public servants asked to take a redundancy payment.
“Nobody would begrudge a bin man or one of those home help carers a similar redundancy payment based on the number of years they’ve worked, and I doubt many of them would work a year for free as I’ve done,” said Mr Cairns who since the general election has mainly concentrated on his Parliamentary duties rather than attend the Senedd.
It’s a good point well made by Mr Cairns, who despite his diminutive height, has made his mark as a political force, successfully lobbying his AM colleagues in 2008 to change the rules over how AMs qualified for a second home allowance.
Sadly this achievement was portrayed by political rivals as intending to benefit himself as at the time he lived in the village of Ewenny in the Bridgend constituency.
That entitled him to claim £12,500 a year for a flat in Cardiff Bay. But when boundary changes shifted his home into the Vale of Glamorgan, he would have lost the allowance if the rules had not been changed to enable him to carry on claiming.
Neither is Mr Cairns’ success confined to the political arena. He has the sartorial elegance of a banker, and the charm to match. He displayed his quick wit when he described Italians as ‘greasy wops’ when asked to give his thoughts, on Radio Cymru, on the teams competing at the 2008 European Football Championships.
That sparked another row from the ‘professionally offended’. It’s this kind of political point scoring that has prompted Mr Cairns to speak out.
One newspaper had reported a Labour source as saying Mr Cairns’ refusal to take his AM’s salary was an ’empty gesture while he waited for his golden goodbye’, while a Labour councillor had also accused Mr Cairns of being ‘shameless’ for accepting the payment.
“I’ve had to put up with these snide remarks for a while now, calling me shameless or suggesting the payment is intended for unpopular politicians who aren’t successful enough to get elected to two well paid jobs at the same time. Why should failure be rewarded?
“I know what’s behind this, people don’t like to see the short guy succeed.”