Thursday 21 January 2010


I don’t know that Harriet Harman's efforts to re-open the debate on class really matters so much when we read about George Osborne's treatment at the hands of the authorities.

The Parliamentary Standards Commissioner found that the Shadow Chancellor breached rules in two years in claims he made for mortgage interest on his property in Cheshire. Commissioner John Lyon conducted an investigation into Osborne’s claims after complaints that he claimed for the interest on a £450,000 mortgage on his farmhouse in Cheshire when the property cost him only £445,000.

Mr Lyon found that the mistake was not intended. Overall Osborne over-claimed by £1936 of which he had already paid back £270.

Needless to say a statement (which I could have written in advance) has been issued by Osborne. "I am happy to accept the Committee’s report. I am glad that they acknowledge that any breaches of the rules were not intentional, not major, and did not provide me with any significant financial benefit.”

Undoubtedly all of that is true. However, it was misappropriation of our money. Mr Osborne, like all the other MPs in the same situation, was not appearing in court, and was given the opportunity of paying the money back with no penalty whatsoever.

My point then is that a small businessman, who had incorrectly completed his VAT return with the same level of benefit, or a pensioner claiming housing benefit and forgetting that they had a savings account somewhere with £500 in it, would almost undoubtedly not have been so lucky.

I have no doubt at all that Osborne wouldn’t risk his career over £1,666. He’s a rich man and the sum is a trifle to him. But he, and the rest of the MPs who fiddled their expenses, have been treated incredibly leniently in the scandal whereas we still have rather draconian punishments for “ordinary” people who appear to have benefited from state money that they are not entitled to.

A separate thought though, given that Osborne expects to be Finance Secretary: it might be a good idea for him to go on an Arithmetic course.


  1. Why is he our shadow chancellor? Ken Clarke would be much better.

  2. oh, and i thought you'd mention this one! I was hoping you;d missed this story!


  3. The reason Ken Clarke won't be chancellor is that it would trigger a civil war on the EU within the Tories which might cost them the election, Cameron knows this and whatever else he is, he's not stupid.

  4. "Bloody eurobastards!"

    John Major was correct on that, these europhobes are as un-Conservative as they are frankly dangerous.

    Euroscepticism can be healthy, but not the John Redwood school of thought! A civil war? Bring it on, its about time my Party decided which side it is on; a course of sensible pro-european progress or dangerous isolationism at the fringes of Europe...#rant over#

  5. Osbourne is going to be a hopeless Chancellor.

    I am amazed that this far into a deeply unpopular and incompetemt government that the Tories (even in England) are not further ahead in the polls than they are. To the great advantage of us all especially if there is a hung parliament. We in Scotland would get all the advantages of a Tory Prime Minister with the boost that should give the SNP with none of the dissadvantegous of the really awful nasty SE England/rich centric policies.

    Unless of course Labour and the Tories realise that there is nothing between them and get together.

  6. Munguin, I'd prefer for a hung parliament, with a lib-lab pact administration.

    This comes from a nakedly selfish Scottish Tory viewpoint of course.

    As for Osborne, he wont be chancellor, Ken will from the buisness department!

  7. Dean: I completely agree. We need a clever, experienced man at the helm. Osborne won't cut the mustard.

  8. QM: I agree. That's the reason he won't be the next Prime Minister. Foolish really. He's a really sensible man. We need him now, not someone inexperienced.

  9. Dean: I'd prefer a Tory/Liberal administration. Labour are completely useless, worn out, reduced to the lowest, least capable cabinet ministers, or morons like Gladys Kinnock, appointed because they are Labour Grandees.

    We need the likes of Ken Clarke, woking with people like Vince Cable to try to sort out this mess that Labour has left.....

  10. Munguin: I think it is the fact that despite how awful Labour is, no one has any confidence in a bunch of inexperienced people who keep making mistakes... like Osborne and Cameron do...... all the time.

  11. Tris,

    My point about the self interest of the Scots Tory calls [selfishly] for a continued period of Lab-Lib government, this will discredit all of the alternatives at a British level to the Tories....and given a hung parliament reality...means another GE where an even bigger breakthrough than in 2010 can be achieved in Scotland.

    Naturally this is absurdly selfish. But its really the way soooo many Scots Tories are thinking [when they talk privately to me anyways].

  12. Dean:

    LOL... It a bit selfish to be wishing any more of this rubbish upon us. I suspect that, on the other hand many Scots are hoping for an English Tory government which will serve to prove for one and for all that Scotland is not served democratically by being a part of the UK

  13. BTW Dean... I was bound not to miss it matey. It's one of my pet hates is this. People are treated differently according to their class or status. I've seen it time and again.

    I have no problem with leniency as long as it is dealt with equal measure to John Smith who has a corner shop and who underpays his VAT (whether by accident or design it is hard to say). And the same for wide variety of people on benefits who get caught and punished for far less than some of these politicians have stolen.

    I'm not saying for a second George stole this money on purpose, although it's possible. As my Granny would say "mony a mickle macks a muckle". What I am saying is give these other examples the same benefit of doubt as the likes of Mr Osborne.....

  14. If he is guilty of wrong doing he should face the punishment appropriate.