Monday, May 11, 2009

All MPs must say sorry - Cameron.

I've written before about my disgust at the expenses scandal exposed by the Daily Telegraph and, like everyone else, my disgust was aimed at the Labour recipients of such easy and unwarranted cash, because those were the people mainly featured in the Telegraph's list of wrongdoers.

It now transpires - why in God's name am I surprised? - that the Daily Torygraph were being highly selective in the expenses that they were being outraged by, and that Tory MP's have their snouts just as deep in the trough as Labour MP's. It's just that it took several days for the Torygraph to signal it's horror that Tories were also scamming the system. A system that MP's designed, which is why they are able to look us square in the eye and tell us that what they were doing was perfectly legal. Of course it was, they designed it for that very purpose.

Here's a short list of some of the Tory claims:

  • More than £2,000 received by Oliver Letwin to replace a leaking pipe under a tennis court. The shadow minister responded: "I was served a statutory notice by the water company to repair the leaking pipe, which runs underneath the tennis court and garden. No improvements were made to the tennis court or garden."
  • Shadow universities secretary David Willetts's claim of more than £100 for workmen to replace 25 light bulbs at his home. "We had problems with our lighting system which had caused many lights to fuse and needed the attention of an electrician," he said.
  • Thousands of pounds for renovations by Chris Grayling to a London flat 17 miles from his family home. He said: "In addition to serving my constituents, I have spent several years serving in the shadow cabinet, currently as the shadow home secretary. A second home enables me to meet those commitments." In response to an allegation that he delayed claims to maximise what he received, he said all claims had been submitted "at the point which I received the invoices".
  • Reimbursement of £4.47 for dog food to shadow Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan, who said the claim had been made in mistake and would be repaid.
David Cameron, whose silence on this subject had occurred to me as odd, has suddenly decided to speak, having watched in utter silence as the Labour party were dragged across the coals.

Mr Cameron called it "another bad day for Parliament and, frankly, a bad day for the Conservative Party".

"We have to acknowledge just how bad this is. The public are really angry and we have to start by saying, look, this system that we had, that we used, that we operated, that we took part in - it was wrong and we're sorry about it."

BBC political editor Nick Robinson said Mr Cameron was "trying to gain some credit for admitting that MPs designed the system that was flawed, and can't simply blame that system".

He has had days to come up with that response. Days in which we have had transmissions of both Any Questions and Any Answers. So he has had plenty of time to listen and to gauge the public mood and work out that the public simply weren't ready to accept the argument that "this is the system", especially as the system was designed by the same MP's now trying to hide behind that excuse.

I am seriously unimpressed by his silence and, as always, seriously cynical about his response.

He [Cameron] said MPs had to admit the system "was wrong and we're sorry about it".

It's notable that he has only chosen to speak once the spotlight turned on to his own party and that he was perfectly happy to stay silent on this issue as long as it was Labour who were being pummelled. He really does come across to me as an opportunistic arsehole.

According to the Telegraph, a £3,194 bill for gardening submitted by Mr Duncan in March 2007 was not paid after officials said it might not be "within the spirit" of the rules.

In a letter, the fees office said gardening costs were intended "to cover only basic essentials such as grass cutting".

But the paper said Mr Duncan, who oversees party policy on MPs' expenses, recouped £4,000 in expenses for gardening costs over three years.

In March 2007, he claimed £598 to overhaul a ride-on lawnmower, the Telegraph added.


Shadow cabinet office minister Francis Maude had claimed almost £35,000 in mortgage interest payments on a London flat that he bought, close to a house he already owned and then rented out, reported the Telegraph.

One really is left wondering what their wages were spent on, as every conceivable expense one can think of was passed along to the taxpayer.

I heard recently that one compromise proposed was that receipts would be required before they could feed at this trough. What century are these people living in? Is there anyone who can claim any expense these days without a receipt?

But Cameron's calls for a public apology strike me as too little, too late. He could have spoken up days ago whilst Brown was being mauled, but he chose not to. Only now, with his own party under the spotlight, has he decided that this whole matter is dreadful.

The man is an opportunistic, immoral tosser.

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