It emerged earlier this week that Maria Miler, the Tory Culture Secretary, was discovered to have stolen £45,000 from the public purse for expenses on her second home. Despite this she has been ordered to pay back only £5,800 of the money. This comes in the wake of countless other scandals that have rocked all sections of the establishment and exposed the bankruptcy of the coalition government.
It emerged earlier this week that Maria Miler, the Tory Culture Secretary, was discovered to have stolen £45,000 from the public purse in over-claimed mortgage and council tax expenses on her second home. Despite this she has been ordered to pay back only £5,800 of the money, as well as to issue what was a half-hearted apology. This comes in the wake of countless other scandals that have rocked all sections of the establishment and exposed the bankruptcy of the coalition government.
Miller is guilty of defrauding the public for her own personal gain. Not only did she over-claim £45,000 of expenses – nearly twice the average yearly wage – but this was for a ‘second home’ that in actual fact housed her parents full time. Furthermore, taxpayers forked out for the interest on her £575,000 remortgage, taken out for the cost of extensive renovation. This renovation allowed her to sell it in February for £1.47m, the sale paying for a luxury Tudor barn worth £1.2m. Her new property has five bedrooms, three reception rooms and a study and comes with several outbuildings including a summer house and an annexe barn, all set in 1.6 acres of private gardens, and all funded in part by blatant embezzlement and fraud.
When exposed, Miller showed little remorse, demonstrating childishness typical of out-of-touch parliamentarians with her arrogant apology. Her 30 second speech showed nonchalance rather than genuine contrition. Miller had previously refused to co-operate with the investigation into her expenses, refusing to hand over details of her mortgage agreements and, according to sources in Westminster, ‘coming out with lawyers and guns blazing’. She avoided all questions from the independent Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, threatening her with referral to the ‘supervisory jurisdiction’ of the MP-composed Commons Standards Committee and falsely claiming that she was acting in a manner ‘unwarranted, unfair and contrary to all standards of due process and legality.’ It also appears that during a phone call with the Daily Telegraph, Miller’s special adviser, Jo Hindley, “flagged up” a future meeting between Miller, responsible for implementing the Leveson report into press standards, and the paper’s then editor. This was understandably interpreted as a threat.
Conditions create consciousness
Miller’s attitude should not come as a surprise. As Marxists often say, conditions create consciousness, and Miller’s working life takes place in the den of corruption and scandal that is Westminster, her friends the parcel of thieves that make up our government. These events come in the wake of the expenses scandal, in which eight politicians from both houses were jailed for fiddling their expenses for private gain. She is part of a political class that is completely removed from the conditions facing ordinary working people and that reeks of remorseless corruption.
It should be obvious that representatives of this group would be unlikely to punish her with any severity. Indeed, the Commons Standards Committee, the members of which are appointed by the crooked parliament it is supposed to regulate, ignored the already weak recommendation of the independent commissioner to simply retake the £45,000 Miller stole, reducing the fine to a pathetic £5,800.
In the wake of this, various figures from across the political spectrum have been calling for a overhaul of the way in which parliamentarians are regulated, with Labour vaguely announcing that it would reform the current system if elected. Whilst David Cameron is trying to drop the issue, Sir Ian Kennedy, the chairman of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, has called for an end to the right of MP’s to sit in judgement over their colleagues. But this would mean giving power over the composition of the commons to an external regulator. This would be a dangerous and anti-democratic path to travel down. Instead, we must demand the democratic right to recall any of our elected representatives at any time. If this was the case, Miller would be long gone.
In addition, we must demand that all MPs take no more than an average worker’s wage. Such a measure would help to rid parliament of the careerists and crooks who currently reside there and would ensure that elected representatives have the same material interests as the people they are elected to represent.
Tension amongst the Tories
Senior Tories have come running to Miller’s side, with David Cameron begging all involved to ‘leave it there’, and Ian Duncan Smith blaming the scandal on ‘media antipathy’ due to her role in implementing the Leveson report. Telling the public that ‘the sooner we can get rid of this nonsense the better’, IDS claimed that it was the ‘the gay marriage stuff’, not her embezzlement – Miller was responsible for steering the gay marriage bill through parliament – that had left Miller in the lurch.
Inside the Conservative Party, there may be some truth to this. Since the introduction of internal member democracy to the party in the mid-60’s, it has been seized by the blue-rinse hang’em, flog’em brigade of Tory backwoodsmen and women that constitute the lay membership. Passionately Eurosceptic, anti-environmentalist, and – as alluded to by IDS – a bunch of nasty bigoted homophobes, they have increasingly pushed the party to the right. With an average age of 68, these layers have primarily been battling the leadership over Europe, with the movement towards UKIP warning of deep dissatisfaction in the party and the opening up of deep splits in the future. 82% of Conservative Party members – marginally more than the 78% of the general public – want to see Miller’s resignation, perhaps in part due to their hatred of measures (such as gay marriage) that she has pushed in the past.
The reek of hypocrisy
Perhaps the clearest stench from the Tory leadership is that of hypocrisy. After the London Riots in 2011, sparked by the unpunished murder of a local man by racist, classist police officers, two young men were jailed for inciting disorder – disorder which never actually materialised – and have yet to finish their sentences. Another, Anderson Fernandes, a 22 year old father of one, faced a 16 month prison sentence after stealing two scoops of ice-cream, all but one lick of which he gave away. He has since been deported and carries a 10 year ban from Britain, the home of his wife and child. Nicolas Robinson, 23, was jailed for six months for the theft of a case of water costing just £3.50 from Lidl supermarket. Ursala Nevin – a mother of two – was jailed for five months after receiving a pair of shorts that had been looted from a city centre store.
We should ask Maria Miller – how much ice-cream can you buy for £45,000? How many bottles of water? Nobody gave her the money – she stole it, from the public purse, and has shown little to no remorse for her actions. She should be in prison, yet the Tory leadership will not even force her resignation. Perhaps most shockingly, she is not even being asked to repay all of the money, and walks away with nearly £40,000 in profit. Such is the reality of justice under the bourgeois state – one law for the rich, another for the rest.
Rotten from the top
Here we have it – the whole establishment is ripe rotten with greed and corruption: The press, the police, the clergy and the commons; the phone-hacking enquiry; the Stephen Lawrence investigation; the Orgreave scandal; the Hillsborough disaster; the murders of Mark Duggan and Ian Tomlinson; the ‘rape by the state’ committed by officers maliciously infiltrating activist groups; the paedophilia at the heart of the BBC; the state and the church; and expenses scandal after expenses scandal after expenses scandal – every section, every nook and every cranny of the ruling class stinks to the high heavens.
But a rotten apple will not fall from the tree of its own accord. It has to be plucked. It is high time we overthrow this rotten ruling class, which day by day shows itself to be unfit to rule, and organise the creation of a genuinely democratic socialist society in the interests of the many, not a corrupt and vicious few.