Few rent-a-quote MPs are more reliable than Andrew “HS2 ate my house” Bridgen, who represents North West Leicestershire for the Tories. He is reliably quotable, and in his latest attack on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, reliably wrong, in addition to exhibiting that combination of shamelessness and hypocrisy so prevalent in his party today.
Andrew Bridgen - wrong again
After the ruckus over Jezza’s visit four years ago to Tunis, where he was commemorating those killed in an Israeli air strike in 1985 - an act that was condemned at the time by the United Nations, and indeed by Margaret Thatcher - Bridgen came up with an excellent wheeze: he would accuse Corbyn of not declaring the trip.
Thus he would garner lots of that press coverage that serves his electorate not one jot, but raises his profile with the press establishment and scores brownie points with the whips. And the result was all he might have wished, with Sky News reporting “Jeremy Corbyn has been reported to Parliament's sleaze watchdog, accused of failing to declare his controversial wreath-laying trip to Tunisia or reveal who paid for it.”
There was more. “Tory MP Andrew Bridgen has written to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Stone, alleging ‘a serious breach’ of Commons rules and demanding an investigation … In his letter, seen by Sky News”. Yes, it was seen by Sky News because publicity whore Bridgen showed it to them. And everyone else.
So it was no surprise that the Murdoch Sun also had the letter, along with the potentially actionable claim that Corbyn was honouring those who carried out the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, which would have been difficult as they are buried in Libya, not Tunisia. But there was a serious problem with Bridgen’s claim.
As the Guardian had already pointed out before Bridgen made his claim, “Labour said that Corbyn stayed for two nights and that the value of the trip, including flight and accommodation, was less than the financial threshold required for a declaration”. Our free and fearless press has failed Fact Check 101. Or they knew, and smeared him anyway.
What is worse is that anything coming from Andrew Bridgen on the subject of expenses should have been subjected to extra scrutiny: this is because of his own record. The Guardian told back in 2016 of “one glitzy hotel, not far from the Houses of Parliament, where dozens of MPs choose to spend the night”. And then?
“When his marriage broke down a few years ago, Bridgen ditched his Westminster flat and adopted the hotel as his new pad. One year, he stayed here for 45% of the time – a total of 165 nights. Inevitably, Bridgen racked up a huge bill, amounting to nearly £25,000”.
And he was terribly sensitive about it. “When I ask Bridgen if it is acceptable for MPs to claim £150 a night for hotels, I hit a nerve. ‘I mean, what do you want?’ he snaps. ‘We could get some cardboard boxes and kip out on the bridge at Waterloo station. That would be handy, although we might look a bit of a mess when we arrive to work the next morning… Where do you want us to go?’” What an ocean-going hypocrite.
Corbyn, once again, has done nothing wrong. The press, once again, has failed to check its facts. And Andrew Bridgen, once again, is not fit for public office. No change there.
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