They’re all at it! Have they no shame? It’s taxpayers’ money – sofa beds, wide screen televisions, adult films, bathplugs ... bathplugs? Er, OK, bathplugs it is.
Now, as a freelance worker getting round to settling this year’s accountant’s bill, or to describe it in the appropriate “speak”, fee note, I might be thought of as one of those baying for blood at the parliamentary expense business. After all, Gordon Brown was at 11 Downing Street when IR35 came to plague us all. The temptation is certainly there. But I am also trying to think the whole thing through – Andy Coulson would hate voters like me, trying to think before acting.
Once upon a time, MPs didn’t get a salary. So it is hardly surprising that those prepared to serve had another income, whether by work or inheritance. David Lloyd George – yes, him again – changed that, quite possibly speeding up the decline of his own Liberal Party in the process. Do we want to go back to the time before LG’s action? Erm, not really. Neither, I suspect, do we want to have “your member of parliament sponsored by MegaCorp (tm)”.
But they’re claiming all those expenses! Yes, yes, I got that one. Because that’s what they’re allowed to do. There’s no mystery about it. MPs get into parliament, and they get told that they can claim for this, that and t’other. They then claim for them. And have been doing so for decades. So why is all the froth being generated now?
Ah well. Now we not only have Freedom of Information, we also have hacks who have figured out how to use FOI, and whose bosses need to keep up their circulation. And nothing keeps up the circulation like a little sleaze. Or even a lot of sleaze. And do the proprietors care about the fallout? Bears, woods, you get the picture.
So I’m not going to join the baying mob. Sure, there may be a need to give the whole system a good shaking. That can’t happen overnight. In the meantime, I would commend the wise words of Churchill. That’s the dog on the adverts, not Winshton.