Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Alice Miles: expenses are fine for the poor dears...

Via Iain Dale, who oddly describes it as "perhaps the most eloquent exposition for far of the case for the defence", comes this piss-poor Times article from Alice Miles.
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.

Yes... And?
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.

Ah, diddums...
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".

Fucking hellski...


no longer anonymous said...

Agree with your fisking except one point:

"Come on, Alice, prove that "all or most MPs" do not abuse their allowances."

Innocent until proven guilty is the libertarian way of doing things. If we have proof that the majority are taking advantage of us (and I suspect that they are) then it will be up to her to show otherwise. Suffice to say getting hold of that disk would assist us...

Anonymous said...

spot on.

It is offensive that media types breaking the stories on sleaze are charged with being the ones damaging the country and not the thieving fucks that perpetrate the troughing.

El Draque said...

There's a story that Gladstone once had an urgent private letter to send from his office.
He put it in the office out tray, where it was posted as governmetn mail.
He then made sure he bought a stamp and burned it. To do anything else was immoral.
That's the personal ethic we are lacking.

Dex said...


I saw this article in the times today and i really couldn't bring myself to see what shit she was going to come out with as a defense. I seriously couldn't force myself to read some crap article trying to defend what they've done. After reading your fisking, i can see she 's done a truly wank job. seriously what was she on when she wrote this article.

TheFatBigot said...

Methinks she is barking up the wrong end of the stick.

What is objectionable about how these "allowances" are manipulated is that they result in MPs making a profit out of a system which should simply reimburse out of pocket expenses.

An across-the-board pay rise won't make it any better. MPs who have to have a second home will still have to pay for one, those who don't need to will just pocket the additional salary. The MP for the back of beyond will, in effect, earn £20,000-odd less than one with an inner London constituency. What's the betting the result will be that the costs of a second home would will be allowed as expenses so as to level the playing field?

If none of them made a profit we could still complain about the pettiness of claiming for a sink plug or a Mark Oaten memorial oven glove, but it would be such a minor thing there would be no big fuss.

It's when they make thousands or even hundreds of thousands on a property paid for by taxpayers that the problem arises and there is simply no excuse for them being able to retain that profit for themselves.

Zaphod Camden said...

Re: the "Sarah Brown £9,000 top" thing.

Wasn't it the case that current First Lady Michelle Obama appeared in an outfit that was alleged to cost something like $350 in total, including her bra and knickers? ISTR much reporting of this as a counterblast to Sarah Palin's extravagant spending on designer labels in the run up to the US election.

As for the rest of this article - well, nothing more needs to be added, does it? The leakage if anything needs to be stepped up - this money, as so many have said, comes ultimately from the UK taxpayer, and as a UK taxpayer I want to know what the (expletive deleted) are doing with it.

Or maybe I don' constitution might not be able to stand it...

Boy on a bike said...

I think I have a solution for you.

The problem seems to be that your parliament is based in London. Here, we were silly enough to bugger up a perfectly good sheep paddock in the middle of nowhere in order to build Canberra. Apart from the 2 local MPs, every other MP has to commute to the office. That means all of them, bar 2, have a legitimate claim to a daily travel allowance when they are away from home.

As quite a few have a commute of 3000 or 4000 km - further than the distance from Moscow to London, we tend not to get too uptight about MPs being paid a travel allowance.

Our allowances must be worth much less, because it's fairly common for 2 or 3 MPs to club together to buy a flat or house, and they aren't always members of the same party.

So what you need to do is to move parliament to somewhere remote, where there are only 1 or 2 local MPs. Orkney perhaps? Then none can complain about their housing expenses being seen as unfair.

David Gillies said...

Let's not forget that Alice Miles is the trollop who gave birth to the bastard of that jug-eared fuckstick Andrew Marr. So clearly expecting sense from the addled tart is asking a bit too much.

Wearysider said...

What I don't understand (well I do, they are all a bunch of self serving corrupt bastards, but aside from that), ok so we the tax payer buy these lazy work shy bastards a 2nd home because to be fair they need to live in 2 places to serve our country, what grips my shit is why do they get to fucking keep it after they retire?

Surely if the taxpayer provides them with London based accommodation / housing whatever then once they retire from Parliament they should hand over the fucking keys so the state can recoup some of that money? or offer it to another serving MP., Just a thought.

Vicola said...

She's right, the way these expenses are trickling out IS an affront to democracy. If we had any sort of sensible democracy, the whole fucking lot would be available for public viewing as we pay for it, there'd be no need to trickling or leaking.

Vicola said...

Incidentally - If Mrs Brown is ever reading this: I suggest you try Coast. You can get nicer tops than that thingy you were wearing for about £60. I can afford to buy those and me and my other half between the two of us earn about a fifth of what your husband earns, plus we pay our own mortgage and bills so you should be fine. Oh, and Alice whatever-your-name -is: No one feels any sympathy for MPs so you might as well stop pissing into the wind with stupid articles like that.

FlipC said...

So to take the essential points of her defence.

MPs are expected to live in their constituency, but work in London.

Boo hoo it's called commuting; if they do live a long way away and have to stay for long periods then sure they need a permanent base, but just somewhere to crash not a new family home.

But think of the children.

So I'm assuming Alice will be pressing for new legislation that requires derricks and freighters to provide family accommodation and pays to have said families ferried back and forth? Oh wait those workers knew what they were letting themselves in for unlike MPs obviously.

Don't blame the MPs blame the system.

Ah so it's the system's fault for not only allowing this but encouraging this. A surprising libertarian philosophy whereby the assumption is that if free to do so an individual will work to maximise their own gain. All well and good until you consider that we are being forced under pain of imprisonment to provide that freedom for them.

Wow she really doesn't get it does she?

max the impaler said...

Providing we ALL get the same rule book and can claim similar expenses there isn't a problem.The State has managed to convince the people that the money they earn isn't their earned is yours NOT the States, who will only allow you to have some pocket money returned as a tax credit etc.Fuck the state...THEY are the cause of all our financial problems.Get up each morning and say to your self the money I grafted for yesterday and will do today is MINE.

Chalcedon said...

It has been made public that a lot of MPs are corrupt rip-off artists, abusing their position and taking lots of cash because.........they can as it's within the arbitrary rules they themselves made. They need to realise that just because you can do something doesn't mean it's right. In their cases, all 646 of them, their expenses and allowance claims should be in the public domain. It is public money they are claiming. This is really democratic. They have to answer to us and they are public servants. Unfortunately this gang of twats have developed customs and practices over time that put the great train robbers to shame. At least they were 'honest' criminals doing their thieving in broad daylight, not trying to hide it under a load of obfuscation, threats and police action.

If they stopped the fucking lying, answered questions with a straight answer and not an evasion or another question and stopped the arrogant thieving, they might just, after a few years, gain a little respect from the people they SERVE!

At the monent they are a bunch of scheming, lying crooks.

The Nameless Libertarian said...

The section on Sarah Brown's 9k top is really the peak of this incredibly crass article. Almost everyone in the known world has to buy their own clothes; why the fuck should Sarah Brown be any different?

And why can't she work? Cherie Blair worked. They're is a difference between can't work and won't work.


peter carter-fuck said...

Why are MP's "expected to live in their constituency"? By whom? I don't expect it. If I need to contact my MP there's the post or e-mail. He might come up to conduct a surgery once a fortnight, that doesn't mean he has to live here, why can't his agent put him up for the night? Parliament sits in London, what's so wrong with MPs living there, and spending the night at the Travel Tavern when they go to their constituencies? That would have saved us buying a house for Blair in Trimden or whereever the fuck it was, that the cunt sold at a profit the minute he left parliament.

FlipC said...

peter - "Why are MP's 'expected to live in their constituency?'"

Oo I don't know perhaps because those are the people they're supposed to be representing and therefore have a connection with; you know something silly like that.

Yeesh if all the MPs all lived in London the next legislation out of the door will be be an effective ban on private transport, because public transport is just soooo convenient (in London); and large subsidies for the Arts, to allow everyone (in London) to enjoy them.

Oh wait... yeah alright they might as well all live in London.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I really thought Toynbee was one of a kind but it seems she has a clone. You could easily fertilise the lawn with that pile of horseshit. What a stupid cunt.

NuLab OldLies said...

It's always someone else's fault, moan the lefties. Except for this of course.

This time it's the system's fault.

But now NuLab are working hard to put the system right, bless 'em. Still, you have to hand it to Gordo's Goons: milk the system, screw the people, benefit personally as much as you can and then soberly pledge to make it all better.

cookie said...

From her wiki:

' ...qualified as a barrister.'

'Miles won the What the Papers Say Columnist of the Year award in 2007'

Damning indictments of the standards of education and journalism in this country.

peter carter-fuck said...

"Oo I don't know perhaps because those are the people they're supposed to be representing and therefore have a connection with; you know something silly like that."

What sort of connection? Have you ever met your MP? I've never met mine, but I have written to him several times. I don't care where he lives, but the fact is he's an MP, and parliament is in London, so why this fiction that MPs have got to live in their constituencies? It only serves to perpetuate the idea that they "need" two homes. Frankly, I don't think they do.

Robin said...

Look you have to make things fair, you have to equalise everything. An MP from Yorkshire would have to spend more than an MP from harlow to get to London. So you have to equalise . On the other hand the MP from Harlow doesn`t have the nice scenery as the MP from Yorkshire, so we must harminise that. Mind you they both wont have the nicer climate of the MP in Cornwall, so that must be equalised. The MP from Walsall wont have the cleaner air of the MP from Suffolk, so that needs equalising. And the MP from Southampton has more ugly people in his constituancy, so we must do something about that.

Anonymous said...

It's really quite straightforward. Nobody objects to MPs claiming actual expenses, honestly incurred. You know - the sort of expenses that you or I would claim if we were required to travel by our employers.

We do object to deceitful games such as declaring your main home to be your sister's closet, or changing which one of your homes you identified as "main" every couple of years simply to maximize your take.

Here's a simple rule: an MP can declare that he lives in London or in his constituency, at his choice. For nights that he spends in that place, he claims nothing. For nights spent in the other place on official business, he may claim the price of a hotel room. Some government clerk can ring round once a year to set an official hotel room price for each location. Expenses will only be available whilst parliament is sitting (in recess, you go home...) and will only be paid for a maximum of half the days that parliament sits in any one year. It's up to the individual MP whether he wants to stay in a hotel, buy a flat, or a third mansion or whatever.

No second homes allowance, no submitting bills for washing machines, TVs or porn films.

Or maybe we should scrap the whole lot and have the government build a tower block somewhere nearby (Vauxhall, maybe?) with lets say 680 or so identical one-bedroom flats, and assign one to each MP.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the State just buy a load of crash-pads, one for each non-London MP. You can't have them all together like a Hall of Residence as that would make it too easy for us to blow up, but scattered around town. These pads belong to the State. When the MP is out of Parliament their successor takes it over. Then what they do with their actual homes in their constituencies (commute, rent it out etc) is up to them.


They won't do it though as it'll cost them three quarters of their "salary".

Corrupt cunts.

Jon said...

I can't even get to see my MP

I must be on a watch list for speaking my mind I shouldn't wonder.

British life don't seem to be what it used to be eh?

FlipC said...

peter - "What sort of connection?"

A shared situational connection. They walk in the same town centres as you do, and see the vacant properties; they drive the same roads, and clatter about on them; they listen to the same sirens night after night; and pay the same level of council rates (or at least see what they are).

It's an attempt to keep them directly connected with the people they are supposed to be representing; that they can see the situation first-hand and not represent by remote using the missives of only those vocal or pushed enough to contact them.

Anonymous said...

Apparently after seven years of CSA payments Marr had realised he was not the father after all.
Is it Mephisto?

Anonymous said...

Apparently not. (The paternity.)