The MPs expenses scandal – based on nicked data ‘obtained’ by the Daily
Torygraph has become the talking point of the day. Around the country
people are furious that these same publicly paid MPs, who tell us all
to cut back and grandly complain about every minor infringement of
benefit claims, have taken expense claim fiddling to a level undreamt
off by most of us – and it’s not just a few ‘bad eggs’ either. Nearly
all of them seem to be at it! Mick Brooks now takes a light look at
this scandal and makes a few biting points at their – for once – expense.
your tip for the prize of "pettiest abuse of the MPs" expenses allowance? How
about the KitKat taken from a hotel mini bar and charged to Muggins the Taxpayer? Or maybe it’s the bathplugs? For
the weirdest – how about the mole traps? For the most stereotypically Tory?
That must be Douglas Hogg who lives in a medieval mansion house with a moat.
And of course he charges the serfs for the upkeep of his moat. The prize for
the most appropriate? That must be Heathcoat-Amory, another proper Tory MP
with a double barrelled name, who charged us for… horse manure. After all, the
revolutionary William Morris, in his utopian novel News from Nowhere, observed
that in the socialist future, the Palace
of Westminster would be used for storing horse manure.
Most shameless is probably Hazel Blears who "flipped" the nominated second home MPs from
constituencies outside London are entitled to claim for, no less than three
times in a single year! Basically this means getting us to pay for doing up a
home and then selling it on free of tax. This is not just taking the mickey out
of the taxpayer, it is borderline fraud. Instead of taking on the tax dodgers
in the City, she is so lost in admiration for them that she imitates their
All these people are just spitting in our faces. It may be argued that the sums involved
are not huge. That’s true. After all the Financial Times reckons the government
may have ventured up to £1 trillion on bailing out the banks. Beside that
amount, the expense fiddles are small beer. But that’s beside the point.
Two thirds of us are on £25,000 or less. 90% of us earn less than £40,000 a year. MPs are
on a guaranteed £62,000. Why do they need to fiddle their expenses on top?
These are the same MPs who are voting to hound people on incapacity benefit as
say, "they’re all at it." That’s true as well. But the scandal is bound to hit
New Labour hardest. They’ve presided over this feeding frenzy for the past
twelve years in office. Like the last years of the Tories under Major in the
1990s they are surrounded by a miasma of sleaze and squalor. Labour is at a
record low in the polls. Labour, some of us remember, used to be the Party on
the moral high ground.
The MPs glibly repeat the formula, "we’ve behaved according to the rules" – rules, that
is, that they made up for themselves. They don’t understand the hatred and
contempt they generate with their brass neck. It’s not just about expense
fiddles, of course. The political class is seen to have failed us. We are
staring at economic disaster and all they can do is fill their boots.
The expense account fiddle scandal follows the Damian McBride resignation story.McBride was a
spin doctor paid by us taxpayers as a civil servant to lurk in the dark and
help Gordon Brown traduce and rubbish his colleagues in office. The Blairites
squealed and got him the sack. In our view the Blairite sleaze bags and the
Brownite slime balls deserve one another. But we deserve something better.
Despite the panic measure of a 50% top rate of tax, New Labour continues its policies of
part-privatisation of Royal Mail, for instance, is politically unpopular and
profoundly stupid. It’s also completely irrelevant to the present economic
situation. The government seems to think that by crawling to the rich they can
restore the boom conditions that disappeared in 2007. And that’s the root of
the problem. The business of government, New Labour thinks, is business. Our
politicians it seems are as bent as our business leaders.
is now so completely discredited that it seems almost inconceivable that they
can win the next general election. They
face wipe-out at the European and local elections on June 4th. The
aftermath is really the last opportunity the plotters have to knife our
unelected Prime Minister.
there has "a lean and hungry look?" Harriet Harman? Alan Johnson? It’s possible
they are less bad-tempered than Brown, less prone to rages and sulks. But
politically you can’t put a cigarette paper between anyone in the Cabinet.
They’re all responsible for the present pickle. None of them looks like an
election winner. Every one of them has responsibility for the failure of this
government. And New Labour as a ‘project’ has been an absolute, abject failure.
That, and the need for socialist policies to dispel the mood of cynicism with
politics, is the real lesson of the present sorry situation. Socialist Appeal
has always argued that MPs should live on a worker’s wage. That would keep them
in touch with the problems of ordinary working class people. That would be part
of a raft of socialist policies aimed at addressing the real and urgent
problems we all face and transforming society in the interests of the working
Socialist.net will be returning to this question in the next few days, as the crisis deepens, looking at the consequences for the whole political system in general – with talk now of a repetition of the Italian ‘clean hands’ scandal of the 1990s which led to the total collapse of the long established Christian Democrats - and Labour in particular, with the June elections looming.