Friday, 8 May 2009

An Expensive Business

More revelations have emerged today about MP's expenses. The Daily Telegraph has published detailed accounts of the expenses claims of some of our top politicians with the promise of more to come, and what we already have makes interesting reading.
Several senior MPs are on record as having claimed twice for the same item or having claimed the full price for their Council Tax from which they then obtained a substantial rebate at the taxpayer's expense. Apparently these were 'mistakes' that were put right by the individuals concerned, but it makes me wonder how people we trust to manage billions of pounds of public money, our national security and our economic and social well-being can't handle such a simple matter as their own expenses claim.
It's also interesting that the mistakes were only corrected recently, which of course has nothing whatever to do with the current upsurge in public scrutiny. Other revelations include politicians switching homes so they could claim more in renovation expenses and furnishing grants. One well-known MP is said to have claimed on three different properties in one year and spent £5000 of public money on furnishings in just three months. And, of course, we can't fail to remember the outcry over the MP that claimed for two pornographic films and a new bath plug.
The most shocking thing is that when challenged over these excesses the MPs involved invariably respond "I have done nothing wrong; I haven't broken any of the rules". Perhaps not, but what about the rule of being seen to act with integrity and honesty while in a position of privilege and trust? It astounds me that our politicians are now wringing their hands over why the public has so little faith in them and wondering why they are "failing to get their message across."
Hmm. I can think of a couple of reasons.

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