Island Labour have questioned the value of MP Bob Seely learning Russian at taxpayers’ expense and why charities are paying for his foreign travel.
The IW Observer reported two weeks ago that Bob Seely spent more than £2,500 on Russian lessons, to “keep up his conversational Russian”, which he claimed was needed as part of his parliamentary duties during a visit to Ukraine. However, he declined to give any details about the Ukraine visit, who funded it or how it formed part of his parliamentary duties.
We also revealed Mr Seely had accepted five trips abroad worth more than £16,000 and taken two Select Committee trips valued at more than £10,500.
Richard Quigley, chairman of Island Labour and councillor for Cowes North said: “They say travel broadens the mind, something that Bob Seely definitely needs. Luckily for us, as well visiting Washington DC and New York, Beijing, Hong Kong (twice), The West Bank and Israel, Bahrain (twice) and Turkey, he’s taken the opportunity to learn Russian at taxpayers’ expense. Apparently he’s also visited the Ukraine, but it’s unclear whether this was before or after his Russian lessons.
“Before anybody says, “that’s more times than he’s visited parts of the Island”, it’s important to point out that MP’s need to understand the political landscape of the countries they work with. We know Bob has lots of understanding of the situation in Hong Kong, as he just voted for the Immigration Bill to make it easier for a retired policeman from Hong Kong to seek asylum, than a qualified doctor from Syria. During a recent phone call with Bob it became apparent that aside from the amendment on Hong Kong, he had no idea what he was voting for.
“What is confusing is that some of his trips were paid for by Medical Aid for Palestinians, Conservative Friends of Israel and Syria Relief.
“I’m not sure people donating their hard-earned money to a charity, realise it pays for our Russian speaking MP to visit the West Bank. I’m sure there’s a good reason. Maybe Bob could share with us how he helped provide medical aid.
“Rather than learning Russian, Bob should put some effort into learning how hard it is for some Island residents to find safe affordable housing, access SEND assessments for children or the fragility of the adult social care system on the Island.
That’s a language that far too many people are becoming all too fluent in. “