Those who look in regularly on Zelo Street will know that Rochdale’s still nominally Labour MP Simon Danczuk has had his share of problems with the expenses system in the recent past, not least that he had to repay £11,500 last year that had been wrongly claimed - and that the Metropolitan Police are still investigating the matter. Danczuk is one of Parliament’s top expense claimers (while smearing others over their claims).
There have been a number of creative excuses advanced for Spanker Si’s troughing: his caseload is one - also no doubt why he employed ex-wife Karen, and then more recently re-hired her, all at taxpayers’ expense - and his claim that his younger children “routinely” stay with him in London being two. But the authorities have finally run out of patience with Danczuk’s creative working of the system and called a halt.
We know this as the excellent Rochdale Online site - which has been expanding its readership in the past year, unlike local newspapers - has revealed the latest Danczuk money-spinner, or rather its failure to achieve lift-off. It seems Spanker Si has gone running to the Parliamentary authorities claiming he is short of dosh - and suggesting they see their way clear to allowing him to claim a little more.
How much more? “The MP requested an 'uplift to staffing budget' of £9,512.69. The budget for an MP outside London is already £141,400”. Danczuk is already allowed to claim staff costs up to a maximum of over £141,000. Given the employment situation in Rochdale - not good at the moment, and unlikely to be so for many years to come - securing staff to work in his office within that limit should be a doddle.
Not for Spanker Si, though, it seems. He wants the limit upping to more than £150,000. Not surprisingly, as Rochdale Online has commented, “Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk's request for an increase in expenses was not granted by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA)”. Coming on top of the row over Councillors’ allowances in the town, this kind of grasping behaviour will not reflect well on Labour.
Nor will it look good to those within Labour who are charged with investigating Danczuk’s past behaviour, and deciding whether to recommend he be re-admitted to the fold - or, as seems increasingly likely, expelled permanently. Spanker Si’s behaviour has already caused sufficient adverse comment on the doorstep for local party activists to become increasingly concerned that he could lose them council seats if he remains an MP.
Part of that behaviour is not just his shameless expense claiming, but his decision to re-hire Kazza after she had been previously found to be absent from the office - twice - when she was supposed to be there, and after Danczuk had fired her. Voters will see this latest attempt to extract even more money from the taxpayer - in other words, them - and wonder if it might be a better idea to place their cross against a different candidate next time.
Simon Danczuk never learns. Perhaps expulsion will turn out to be the only option.