Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Relax, take a pill, and wait for it to pass

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.


Obnoxio The Clown said...

You're apologising to an MP? You soft shite!

dizzy said...

Where's the apology?

Houdini said...

You are of course entirely right. A friend of mine is an MP, a LABOUR MP, who I should loath, but I don't because he is a good egg.

The whole strategy of Labour does seem to have changed to one of 'we may be sleazy, but at least we aren't the Tories' and staunch Labour supporting hypocrites, like Chris Paul, refuse to challenge Labour on their sleaze because they reason that Labour may be bad, but not as bad as the Tories.

I think the Tories should start an aggressive spin campaign and why not? Labour have lived on it for 15 years.

Letters From A Tory said...

You must be joking, surely. The disdain from the public towards the abuse of the MP expenses system is here to stay for every day of every year until someone actually sorts it out. The recession merely made the situation worse for those caught swindling the taxpayer.

Demetrius said...

Out here in the real world beyond the London Mediocracy and the mad bloggers spitting fury and insults at each other, things are getting rough. One group worst hit are the very old in sheltered housing. Any savings they had now give little income, any care costs they need have rocketed, and their pensions are not going up anywhere near at the same rate as utilities and council charges. Much worse is that the service charges they have to pay to fat cat financial property tycoons are going up most of all. These are the same fat cat tycoons that have been cosying up to all those fat cat influential politicians who are screwing us all on their expenses. Is it all that surprising that there is now actually hatred and detestation of the political classes?

Oldrightie said...

Lobbydog highlights Woodwards second home claim. One of the richest men in the world. How greedy is that?

Mark Pack said...

I think one of the problems is the use of the word "expenses" to cover things that aren't personal expenses at all; most notably, staff.

You wouldn't say that someone in another job gets x hundred thousands of pounds in "expenses" because they have several staff working for them.

Anonymous said...

Dizzy in attack of reasonableness fit. Are you quite all right?

T'old 'un said...

Dizzy, I think if you look at "Politics" in Roget you will find that, probably unknowingly, most of the population have got its practitioners fully weighed up, whilst the practioners themselves are actually "proud" to be called Politicians.
Says a lot for the erudition of MP's.