In my previous post I noted that John Healey had an expenses/allowance claim to the valur of £137K. It was noted in the commented that this was not particular fair to single out because of the breakdown of those costs. Not only that it was noted by an MP friend who called me last night as well.
As I said to that MP last night, I actually only put the figure in because I assumed someone in the comments might make the connection between the post topic and the specific minister's own salary/perks etc. I was not making a judgment on him in particular rather a judgment on the timing of the press release in comparison to the other stories in the news.
I have to admit, having spoken to this MP at some length I do share sympathy with some of them. Of course there are some bad eggs that are taking the piss or couldn't give a toss about spurious claims (bad joke I know), and the result is a tendency to distrust the whole lot of them - a plague on all your houses basically.
There is, sadly, no obvious solution to the allowances issue. There will always be something that someone might have claimed for that other find wrong. Or there may be genuine mistakes where something in the middle of receipt is claimed for when it wasn't meant to be.
It seems to me that this will pass when something better to talk about comes along - Chaos Day tomorrow for example. No doubt there will be other MP's that have put a claim in to cover the cost of something silly that get 'exposed', but it will subside again. To those concerned about the devaluing of politicians though - including the MP who called last night - I'd say this.
Remember 1992 to 1995? Constant sex sleaze, dodgy deals etc? The Tories were the target of all manner of scandal, some of it was serious, much of it wasn't, it was the era of sleaze whipped up by a media sick of the government and useful aggressive spinning from Labour. I'm not sure how much spinning from the Tories is going on this time around but the point is that the "you're all the bloody same" tag ain't new.
The tag disappeared for a while during the good times, and has been dusted off now the bad times have come. Soon it will be put back in the cupboard again. Its a bit like the Premier League, politicians languished in third place on the most hated generalised group for some time beneath journalists and estate agents and right now they're having their moment and pushing for the title.
Don't worry though, just like Liverpool they won't win it, and soon no one will care to much about your allowance and expenses claim. This is all about the dying days of a Government. The 'damage' to politics has always been there anyway.