Friday, May 08, 2009

MP Expenses (Once Again)

It is great news that the Daily Telegraph has begun to publish details of MP's expenses, I think it is fair to expect a lot more over the weekend and this will run right through May.

It is a frequent co-incidence that the most interesting political scandals tend to happen when I am busiest at work, alas I shall have to keep my comments short for now.

Yes, there will be new details emerging every day, possibly every few hours as the Telegraph drip feeds us snippets to keep the story alive - that by the way, is their prerogative now having paid what I expect is a princely sum for information Government officials had all along and would not publish themselves.

But, I think how I will read this is to try to stay consistent. I have always felt that MP's expenses are far too generous, and that it was a reward for those prepared to be crooked. I think we will see a picture build up in the next few days of exactly how many MP's have been too quick to charge expenses to the public purse.

The loose rules were there to stave off the supposed need for a lengthy process of refunding expenses, it was argued that MP's could spend that time in better ways. That has always been a flimsy argument, and from today we will see on a wide scale exactly why. If you offer up lunch, don't be surprised if people come to eat, and if you offer up what has been a shockingly unaccountable system of free money, yada, yada, yada.

Additionally, the initial anger, which I share, is actually a class issue. Not working class and middle class, but political class and everyone else. They are the only people in the country that make the rules up on these things and they have, over many, many years opted to line their own pockets first. Grand speeches from men and women who claim to have honour have bellowed out from buildings of proud tradition about the need to do more for us poor people. The whole time it was secondary to holding on to one of the best jobs on the land.

As much as it will become apparent exactly who has been troughing away, I hope to at some point pause also and look to those who did not. This expected scandal may actually turn up a few MP's who did not go to Westminster to build a property portfolio. They should of course not have claimed just because the others did, but they at least will have shown themselves to have demonstrated that they are there for the job, not the perks.

The feeling in the national stomach is akin to those lessons learned growing up; recalling being duped in the playground or mis-sold something by a slick salesman who won you trust or perhaps that early girlfriend who led you down a garden path. We have been robbed in plain sight.

When we say "Tax Payers money" we should be more plain-spoken and say "OUR money". They take it from our wages, we pay it when we shop and to our councils. With every car we fill, every pint we supp and cigarette we burn we have contributed to the national purse a proportion of our money earned through our hard toil. These hucksters asked for our money to build hospitals, educate our young and keep us safe.... more and more they cry they need; so the more we pay, and pay and pay. How are we repaid? What a price we pay when we allow accountability and proper representation escape our tender grasp.

Ultimately, all I have as a man in this country is one vote, and one voice. I shall exercise my voice until it leaves me in shouting down these petty crooks, and lend mine to the others who will cry out "shame" also.

From when I get home tonight my browser will be almost permanently open and on the Telegraphs website - perhaps the next General Election would be a good one to trial out local primaries and let us have scrutiny so as to cut the dross before it gets to Parliament and spends all of our money.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why, in appropriate cases, can't they be charged with misfeasance?

Daniel1979 said...

I agree, they should not be allowed to negotiate between themselves for no or limited action to be sought.

Have to admit, had to look it up before answering.

it's either banned or compulsory said...

Saturday Telegraph includes

• Ben Bradshaw, the Health Minister, switched the designation of his second home to a property he shares with his partner in west London. Although the couple initially split the mortgage costs, Mr Bradshaw now claims the entire interest bill on the property – despite owning only half the property.

Anonymous said...

I am trying to organise a peaceful political protest outside the Houses Of Parliament. If you are interested in joining and taking action please join the facebook event, and come along!

Protest about MP’s expenses!
Because the government need to know that clearing out their moats is not the job of the taxpayer!
Venue:Outside the Houses of Parliament
Time:12:00PM Friday, May 15th