Page last updated at 14:32 GMT, Wednesday, 27 May 2009 15:32 UK

Expenses row boosts small parties

European Parliament in Brussels
Smaller parties distance themselves from the expenses scandal

Smaller parties contesting in the European elections in Wales have urged voters not to discredit all politicians over the expenses row.

Jake Griffiths, 43, lead candidate for the Welsh Green Party, said: "Don't tar all politicians with the same brush."

"There are still many honourable people left," added the third candidate for the Welsh Christian Party, Clive Owen.

Both say they expect to do well at the polls because of declining public trust in mainstream political parties.

Mr Griffiths, who works as an environmental business manager in Cardiff, said: "It is important to see how many, and what proportion of MPs have been affected. Don't discredit all."

'Distraction'

While expenses should be dealt with "as a matter of urgency", Mr Griffiths said that major issues have been sidelined because of the recent scandals.

"We've been totally distracted by this row for the last two weeks, but there are big problems in the environment and economy to deal with," he said.

Smaller parties in Wales have noticed an increase in public support since the expenses row broke out.

Mr Owen, a pastor in Newport, said: "The lack of trust in MPs is probably at its lowest ebb ever. As the Christian Party, truth and justice are focal. I think we are gong to pick up many votes."

It's time to put the honour back into the word honourable gentleman
Jeff Green, lead candidate for the Welsh Christian Party

He said: "I'm not here to throw stones at other parties. But they could have done better.

"A lot of MPs, though, are having a terrible time. They've given up a large amount of their lives, and now many people don't think they're credible."

Jeff Green, 44, lead candidate for the Welsh Christian Party, said: "It's time to put the honour back into the word honourable gentleman."

The expenses row had affected the campaign for the European election, he said.

Mr Green, who runs a guest house with his wife in Llandrindod Wells, Powys, said: "The trouble is people are expecting MPs to be dodgy now. The challenge is to get those names out who didn't partake in it.

"But then they are almost guilty by association as they knew it was going on."

'Clean alternative'

Paul Sabanskis, lead candidate in Wales for the Jury Team, a new umbrella group for independents, said it was set up as a "clean alternative" to the current political system.

In his campaign flyer he asks constituents if they have "had enough" of MPs using them "like a cashpoint", asking them instead to vote for "honesty and integrity" on 4 June.

"I would have liked to campaign more on specifically European issues but given that we are set to clean up the system, it's very difficult to get away from expenses," he said.

Mr Sabanskis, who has pledged to have his expenses annually audited by an independent accountant, said people fed up of current MPs are much more likely to give independents a chance.



SEE ALSO
Parties' hope over expenses anger
26 May 09 |  Wales politics
Independents pledge more openness
22 May 09 |  Wales

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