Saturday, February 02, 2008

Objurgation of overspending...

Update Sunday February 3rd: The race for transparency begins: Ben Wallace, a Conservative Party MP, "has broken ranks" with the seemingly all-party 'let's hope it goes away and people will forget how much we claim': he is the first UK Member of Parliament to publish a complete breakdown of his annual Commons expenses. [Times]
In this week's The Spectator Fraiser Nelson expounds on the nepotist shenanigans in the UK of ex-Conservative Party MP Derek Conway. Despite the news rumbling on all week, compared to other such circuses, the headlines and reaction could almost be described as a defeaning silence. Nobody is screaming; all parties speak in hushed tones of a need to perhaps introduce a ban on family members being employed by MP's. What it has also done is pretty much let New Labour and Gordon Brown 'off the hook'...they're not cleared by any means but they have been gifted the spiking a few opposition guns; as Nelson puts it:

"But the damage is nonetheless done. The word ‘Conway’ will now silence any Conservative seeking to chide Labour for financial impropriety. Mr Brown may well be struggling against the weight of five financial scandals (two now the subject of criminal investigations). But he can now say, as Jack Straw did on Wednesday morning, that all parties have trouble with finance. To the immense frustration of the shadow cabinet, they are in no position to argue."

To put it another way for an ex-tory boy like me: it's so bloody frustrating! That said I believe there should be a major cutting and capping of expenses: they've risen by over 50% in only 5 or 6 years (!!!) and of all MP's only 3 ...yes, THREE...have expenses below £90,000 (the average is almost £136 thousand!). Labour's Shahid Malik was highest at £185,421 and Conservative Philip Hollobone claimed the least - £44,551. Now....looking at that last figure, it's 75% of an MP's salary - surely that is enough? The second lowest is more than twenty thousand above Mr. Hollobone. Maybe you'd think he doesn't do a lot; you'd be wrong, he is well above average both in action/committees/voting etc. [They work for you] Check your MP's expenses claim HERE (opens Excel spreadsheet)

Back to Nelson Fraiser, "If Gordon wins next time, the Derek Conway case will be one of the reasons":

"The polite phrase used by the Standards and Privileges Committee was ‘diversion of public funds’. At a stroke, this gave Gordon Brown the words he needed for a narrative he has been trying to construct — to portray the controversies about Labour donations, which led to Mr Hain’s resignation, as a problem afflicting all parties. Meanwhile, the public simply conclude that all politicians are villains — and not just those with a red rosette."

Just to end on a counterdig...interesting point made on The Huntsman yesterday, 'The Porkers Gazette': "Cameron can steal a march here and respond swiftly to the public mood which is clearly and unambiguously in favour of complete openness on this topic. Labour will then be seen to be playing catch-up."

1 comment:

Paul said...

In at Number 323 with a bullet - Christopher Chope. I see our MP has lost his fight to get the Waterloo Eurostar terminal turned over to Network rail so that the platforms can be used for the new longer SWT trains - money was the reason it was turned down. Seems strange economics to me, why not run fewer longer trains than more shorter trains and all the problems that entails. The only additional costs would have been for signalling work at Clapham Junction - the busiest station in Europe. We still don't do public transport properly in this country do we?