Sunday 10 May 2009

Unfriendly fire

Today's polls show the scale of public anger about MPs' expenses. With the expense claims of MPs from all parties to come under further fierce scrutiny in the days ahead, the most worried will be those whose claims and conduct are seen as indefensible by their own supporters.

Some of those concerned have challenged the accuracy of what has been alleged or reported, so the caveat that we may not in all cases have the full story is necessary.

But you will find very few Labour voices defending Margaret Moran MP, the Luton MP who claimed for a home in Southampton. The Additional Costs Allowance was clearly designed to support MPs balancing constituency and parliamentary duties: any MP who has used it to subsidise a house far away from either - in some cases holiday homes - is clearly in breach of the spirit of the system, even if it is claimed to have somehow within the letter of the old system.

And Conservative voices are especially scathing about James Gray MP, who complained about the rejection of his claim for Remembrance Day wreaths. The usually mild mannered Iain Dale calls Gray a "class one copper bottomed shit" and wants the whip withdrawn. ConservativeHome thinks he must stand down at the next election. Gray ran into a good deal of local difficulties over the circumstances in which he left his wife, eventually being reselected, but it sounds like the unfriendly fire is about rather more than that.

This 'unfriendly fire' test might, however, rather let Sinn Fein MPs off the hook. There may even be some grudging respect among republicans for how they have played the system, by charging what seem to be ludicrously over the odds rents to the taxpayer without even taking up their seats.

In other cases, innuendo does not seem to be backed up by the substance of the stories: Saturday's report about Ben Bradshaw seemed questionable. The Sunday Telegraph today is at pains to point out in its editorial that "There has never been any suggestion of any impropriety on the part of the Prime Minister or his brother", which is hardly what the Telegraph's front-page on Friday, so widely followed up elsewhere, implied.

1 comment:

FloTom said...

The Labour Party is finished it is rotten to the core. It no longer has any moral authority to govern and I have no moral obligation to obey any laws it enacts.