08 April 2009

Sanctimonious tripe

I was feeling lazy today, Jacqui Smith's defence riled me somewhat, but it's old news - and then I found this little piece of rot from Alice Miles in the Times

She is defending MPs - of course she derides having to pay for the occasional miscreant and bemoans the system - but most are good, she claims, and she bleats on about how the system is wrong and how we need to put this behind us, all fine

But this masks her defence of MPs and ministers -
Political life is cruel to families. Imagine the life of a minister working 18-hour days in London (and often abroad), with a constituency in a far-flung corner of the country and a young family caught in the middle. Imagine the extra childcare costs they must pay when foreign summits demand a spouse at their side: the £8-£10 hourly rate for a nanny, plus up to £5 an hour in tax and insurance - and all for the privilege of not seeing your child all weekend.
Notice how she has referred to ministers, not MPs - very few MPs go to international conventions with their better halves, the senior ministers do, those who are paid more than double your typical MP and allowed first class travel

True it does split up families, and I have never begrudged those living in the far-flung corners of Britain their home comforts, but welcome to real life - many workers have to do ridiculous commutes, and spend weeks away from their families - they do not get such rewards, nor is their worklife so good, or influential

Remember that these are the 650 most powerful people in the country (in theory) - and that their work consists mostly of speaking and listening, there are no managers, overheads or targets chasing them around, just a 'review' after five years - the hours are flexible, and the bar cheap - this is not a bad price to pay for being away from home 3 or 4 days a week, especially considering the almost 20-week period where you can work from your constituency

This is complete fudge from Ms Miles - talking about childcare for when the parents are away on state business - this really only refers to a handful of members, and I repeat - those who are on far more than an MP's salary. Hell, have a childcare allowance - I don't mind

She then defends the renting out of London property for those in grace-and-favour homes, once again she distorts the facts - there is nothing wrong with renting out a property, what is wrong is claiming expenses on the other

As a normal citizen you should be expected to run one home, we all need a home, right? A second one is required to work in two places, so you have an allowance for it - if you are given this second home then you should not be claiming for a third - I don't care if Darling lets out his London flat, but he has no right to claim expenses for his Edinburgh home while he has a freebie provided

Miles shows her true colours when she continues:
It is all very well for David Cameron to promise to remove the second-home allowance from any of his ministers with grace-and-favour properties...and many of his senior colleagues can afford to keep two homes. Labour ministers, on the whole, are not as wealthy.

That old 'Tory elite' chestnut - unfortunately these days Labour is full of wealthy members, many of whom are second generation politicians, Harriet Harman for one, and as I pointed out yesterday - Geoff Robinson. The old argument that Labour MPs are all working class heroes no longer washes, (particularly when you compare Blair and Brown with both Thatcher and Major) there probably are proportionately more of the 'elites' in the Tory ranks, but unfortunately it is Cameron's image that has allowed Labour to claim they are the sole offenders - you will find a pretty similar picture in both these days (sickening isn't it?)

Then we get an impassioned plea for Sarah Brown - who apparently can't afford the £9,000 top she wore to the G20, and had to rent it

'She doesn't have a job so her husband can lead the world' - call me stupid but doesn't her hubby earn over £180k a year? Considering that's in the top 1% of earners and many housewives can live comfortably on much less, I don't think there's a huge issue here - maybe she can't burn nine grand on one top, but believe me she can spend a lot more than 99% of the wives in this country

I think the only point that comes across from Alice's sympathy is that Gordon is tight-fisted, or that she's a feminist and Sarah must not be allowed to live off her husband

This article in a well respected newspaper enrages me - it smacks of arrogance, of the sort that I've seen in several broadsheets recently - I think these writers are getting a little out of touch with reality

She brands the expenses as minor, and says that Jacqui Smith has far too an important job to do - unfortunately I disagree, ignoring the fact that Smith has never once shown any sort of use as Home Secretary, or evidence of being qualified for the role, she has deliberately abused the system - not a few bathplugs (which I'm willing to bet was on a plumber's receipt), but household furniture and decor, and a cable TV package - the porn was a mistake and is not the main issue here. What people like Miles don't seem to get is that it is not the porn that enrages us, it is that she has claimed her family house as an expense - it is not appropriate professional conduct, and the people will not stand for it - I have said it time and again, the fact was she was making personal benefit off expenses - you cannot deny that

Smith and Miles' defences are both a joke hidden behind a pathetic facade of 'the system'

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