Every time I see a story about MPs and their expenses, the same thought occurs: why is the name in the frame never Edward Timpson? He’s represented Crewe and Nantwich since the 2008 by-election, he spends at least part of most weeks at Westminster, he parks in the station long stay (sometimes) and travels to and from London by train.
Timpson’s car – well, the last one I saw – may be a moderately upmarket brand, although not new. But he still has to put a few gallons of diesel in it once in a while, and weekday charges at the long stay are eight quid a day. Add to that his train fares and whatever accommodation he uses when attending Parliament, and he must charge a fair amount on expenses.
But Edward Timpson is never under scrutiny by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA). Contrast this with the news that (yes, it’s her again) Mid Bedfordshire MP Nadine Dorries (still sitting as an Independent) is under investigation by IPSA on two counts. They have declined to go into detail, but Ms Dorries has said she’s done nothing wrong.
She says the two items are a travel claim mistakenly claimed twice (ticket or petrol bill, depending whose report you read), and a suggestion of sub-letting which she denies. Ms Dorries also claims IPSA are only going after her because she is “a high profile MP”, but she is only a back bencher. She says “I have never misclaimed one penny on my expenses”, but in 2010 repaid around £1,000.
And she is now vowing to “go after” IPSA. Just exactly how this will be accomplished is not told. Meanwhile, the whips’ office must be looking on and wondering what to make of it all: Ms Dorries was told by George Young, the Chief Whip, that she would not be fully readmitted to the Tory fold until she has “rebuilt bridges” with the party. Kicking off at IPSA for doing their job may not help that process.
Moreover, there have been previous controversies, notably the claim that her blog was substantially fiction – or maybe not – and Ms Dorries having to remove the House of Commons portcullis logo from it. Peter Oborne was particularly severe about the former, which also involved her expenses. He asserted forcefully that Young Dave “should have stripped her of the party whip”.
Maybe Nadine Dorries has another career lined up, and so is not fussed about the possibility of her being kicked out of the Tory Party, which would mean political oblivion unless she jumped ship to UKIP and became an MEP, assuming the electorate haven’t rumbled Nigel “Thirsty” Farage by next year’s Euro-elections. It just seems an odd way to rebuild a relationship.
Meanwhile, Edward Timpson is still not under investigation by IPSA.