OK, it is stomach- churning. We can all agree on that. Some details of the expenses claimed by MPs to furnish and maintain their second homes - scatter cushions, patio heaters and moss removal - are grossly extravagant and stunningly inappropriate. I can understand why it makes the blood boil. Never mind the kitchen sink - this lot have thrown that in and claimed for the plug as well.
Yet it is time for this leakage to stop.
Why? This is our money that they are claiming: this is the product of our toil, ripped from us under threat of violence. I think that we have a right to know how it is spend, don't you?
To hear Jacqui Smith being barracked yesterday on the Radio 4 Today programme about where she stays the night, and to hear her feebly protesting that “I'm not in some box room in the top of the house” at her sister's, was to listen to democracy on its knees.
What? The fact that our MPs fraudulently claim money that they absolutely should not is nothing to do with demcracy, and everything to do with abuse of power, you moron.
But in a way, it is democracy: the people who have to pay for this fat slug's extravagances are taking her to task on why the hell she is abusing the system: what the fuck is wrong with that?
This is the Home Secretary, one of the great offices of State.
Yes; and this evil little shit has debased it with her petty larceny.
We should not need to know where she washes her knickers of an evening.
If we are paying for it, we absolutely should have that right. Sure, we shouldn't have to ask but, had Jacqui Smith not totally abused her position and her privileges, then we wouldn't have to, would we, Alice dear?
Fuck me, this is the case for the defence...?
I expect that Gordon Brown will be next. No doubt the little disc carrying all the details of MPs' expenses, which is being touted around for cash, carries some minor detail that could be used to embarrass the Prime Minister. The way that these expenses are being trickled out has become an affront to democracy.
Oh, do fuck off, you ignorant piece of shit: this is not an affront to democracy. It is, in fact, incredibly democratic: the people who vote for these cunts and pay for their lavish lifestyles now get to see exactly how these fuckers have been ripping us off.
How is that undemocratic, exactly?
MPs are now derided and reviled, and that serves nobody.
It's certainly true that they serve nobody but themselves. If MPs did not do things that made them "derided and reviled" then they would not be so.
These fuckers have broken our trust: and it is not we, the people, who did this—it is the MPs themselves. They have quite freely abused the expenses system; they have quite freely abused our trust.
No one forced them to do it: the only people who are forced here is us—the taxpayers—who are forced to cough up whatever these cunts demand that we pay.
It is not true, as two thirds of voters told The Times pollsters Populus this week, that all or most MPs abuse their allowances, and it is not right that people should think so.
Really? Prove it. And that these abuses are "within the rules" is simply not an excuse. Come on, Alice, prove that "all or most MPs" do not abuse their allowances.
Alice? Alice? Bueller...?
There have been examples of personal greed, but, above all, it is a systemic failure.
No, Alice: it is a personal failure. These people all, individually, decided to abuse the expenses system.
MPs have been enouraged by House of Commons officials, ultimately reporting to a committee of - yes - MPs, to treat the second home allowance as part of their salary, boosting it from £65,000 to a potential £89,000.
This. Is. Not. A. Systematic. Failure. Every single individual MP could have turned around and refused to stoop to stealing from the taxpayer. Every single individual MP could have decided not to abuse the expenses system; not to steal from the taxpayer; not to stick their fat nose in the trough.
Instead, each of them made an individual desicion to fill their boots at our expense.
These expenses were not just nodded through by lazy administrators: each one was checked and individually approved.
No, they were deliberately passed through—not by lazy administrators—but by corrupt ones.
One MP told me that a single item on a long bill was queried because the receipt described it as having an animal print, and Commons officials thought it might be for the children and thus disallowed. Everything was checked. This was the system.
With the odd exception, such as the Home Secretary's husband's porn films (you really couldn't make that up), this was all above board and within the rules, and MPs passed those rules only last year.
Oh, do fuck off.
All the relevant receipts should be published now. Official publication of the entire list, which is due in about a month's time, should be rushed forwards. MPs are taking their time to check everything on it, receipt by receipt. They should hurry up; the Easter recess is the ideal opportunity to get this done and have it published before the Commons returns in 12 days' time. Better a flood than the drip drip drip of water torture.
Then the Committee for Standards in Public Life must step up to the plate, and swiftly. It cannot afford a languorous examination and a lazy conclusion, such as the dreadful idea that this problem can be resolved by giving MPs the same overall amount of money, only with the expenses changed into a daily attendance allowance. That will only confuse and annoy the public; do I get paid extra to turn up at the office when I already receive a salary, they will ask.
Well, maybe they should consult their consciences.
Oh, no, wait: they don't have to. They have, after all, revised the expenses "rules" as from the first of April—and the shifty cunts made them even more lax!
The committee should be far bolder, inviting a root-and-branch review of the role of the modern parliamentarian, including an increase in basic salary if appropriate. The present system is fashioned around the days when MPs were male and had wives who stayed at home in their constituencies with the kids throughout the week. Hence the two homes.
Oh, do, please, fuck right off.
That does not reflect reality any more. By insisting that MPs have homes in their constituencies as well as being available until 10pm at Westminster on up to three nights a week, we are forcing them and their families to trek up and down the country twice a week - spending most of the week in London, weekends in the constituency - and that is wrong.
These fucks knew what the job entailed when they stood for it: I have no sympathy whatso-fucking-ever.
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.
I'm sobbing into my highly-taxed wine here, Alice. Please, stop it...
Call me a sucker (and you will call me worse), but I really don't begrudge senior ministers, even those with grace-and-favour apartments, a bit of rental income from their London flats.
Nor do I, Alice. But I do begrudge them that rental when it is we who have paid for it. Do you understand that concept, you moron?
A minister in a grace-and-favour apartment, such as Alistair Darling, who could lose his job at any time, cannot afford to sell his London home. The alternative to renting it out is to do as the Browns have with their Westminster flat - leave it empty to avoid controversy, pay all the costs yourself and therefore make a loss, while paying tax on the use of the grace-and-favour apartment as well (about £5,200 a year, since you wonder).
I'm sorry, Alice—what tax? Council Tax on such a property will not be this high, so what is it?
Are you suggesting that they are taxed on the basis that said property is a benefit in kind? Because, yes, they would have to pay that tax—except that MPs have a specific exemption from this tax.
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; by the time he is in office it will have been scrapped anyway, and many of his senior colleagues can afford to keep two homes. Labour ministers, on the whole, are not as wealthy.
I heard a story this week that made me think about the extra costs and pressures that we pile on to our political families. I realise that the climate is not right to ask for sympathy for them, but have a think. There was an article in The Times during the G20 summit, applauding Sarah Brown for wearing a “£9,000 top”. Idly I wondered how she could afford to pay for that.
I doubt that she did, frankly.
It turns out that she couldn't. She has no income of her own, having given up all paid work when her husband was Chancellor to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.
Plus, of course, her PR company went bust.
She is not allowed to receive gifts, nor to borrow clothing, not even for a summit.
Oh my god! You mean that she even has to buy her own clothes? Dear fucking FUCK, how does she cope, the poor wee dear...?
So to look the part for Britain, Mrs Brown has to rent these outfits, the ones that we all scrutinise so brutally, paying a tenth of their value (excluding shop mark-ups) each time. She paid hundreds of pounds of her own money to rent that top, and returned it afterwards.
Well, that's kind of what you do when you rent clothes. And are you seriously telling me that Mrs Brown cannot represent Britain in anything less than a £9,000 top?
I don't want to live in a country where I am paying for an MP's plant pots.
I suggest that you stop defending them then, you twat.
But I don't want to live in a country, either, where the Prime Minister's wife has to negotiate rental prices out of her own pocket for clothes she needs for public occasions to avoid being branded a cheapskate fashion disaster.
I don't give a fuck what Mrs Brown spends her own money—or her husband's salary—on, frankly.
From top to bottom, this system is horribly out of date.
"Out of date"? I think that the word that you are looking for is "corrupt", Alice...
A lot of outdated rules could be flushed down that plughole.
They were. On the first of April. Idiot. God, I am so tired of this stupidity masquerading as "comment".