There are so many things to discuss in the newly-released expenses papers. I suppose that there is enough material for seriously cutting up the ruling classes for the next 6 weeks.
They are still at it. You’d have thought that they would have been scared off by all the fuss that was made by the Daily Telegraph in the summer, but I suppose many of them are past caring now. They are only here for the next few months. They may as well go out with a bang. So, less than 24 hours after Darling announced tax increases on people earning as little as £20,000 a year, documents showing a complete lack of repentance on the MPs’ and Lords’ parts was sure to rock the expenses scandal back on to the front pages.
Among the things that amused me most were:
• Quentin Davies (Labour) (pictured), claiming £20,000 for the repairs on his bell tower at his country mansion. Well worth every halfpenny of tax payers’ money Quentin old thing. We can’t have his bell tower falling on the serfs and crushing them. OK, he was refused, but he had the nerve to ask and he did get over £5,000 for roof repairs.
• Gordon Brown (Labour) got his downstairs toilet done up, at an amazing cost of £2,700. If that’s what it cost to redo his toilet, imagine the cost of redecorating his living room! Prudence obviously doesn’t stint himself when we're paying. Apparently he offered to pay back £500 for the painting of his summerhouse, admitting it could be “questionable”. Yup, remembering the maxum that expenses must be vital to doing the job, I think I can imagine somehow being able to be an MP without having my summerhouse painted...
• Jackie Smith (Labour) managed to get a new TV, DVD player and a double bed for the price of only £1,400. I’m seeing a connection here to some of her older claims...... wink wink.
• Peter Viggers (Duck House) (Conservative) (You’re going to love this). £8,000 for lawn feed and gardening (he must have a massive lawn, there are OAP couples that live for a whole year on less than that), and £669 for shutters (well, you can’t help your constituents if you don’t have shutters now, can you?)
The whole nasty, embarrassing mess is spread over a wide range of newspapers, but I got my information mainly from the Daily Mail. (Always good for a bit of pursed lip, shaking head and tutting disapproval is the Mail).
A lovely additional piece of information picked up on a comment on Lobbydog’s blog was the cleaning bills for a certain Graham Allen, Nottingham North:
It appears that Mr Allen among other things gets his shirts dry cleaned, rather than bother with the nasty nonsense that the rest of us have to put up with, you know, washing them, drying them and ironing them and then hanging them up. Maybe something about the delicate skin of a member of the ruling classes that just couldn’t be doing with that nasty soap and conditioner that the rest of us ordinary people have to put up with. But apparently, according to the receipts, we also have the honour of pay for his, or his wife’s, or... whoever’s blouses! Well, don’t that beat all!
It’s nice to see in this world of rapid change that there are still some things that you can count on....