Incidentally, Guido has been busy gathering evidence of LibDem and Labour MEPs using European Parliament expense funds in a systematic way to fund their party machines. So don’t expect to hear much complaining about this from them…
Such is the strength of feeling in the Conservative Party that outraged Tory councillors and activists in Giles Chichester’s own constituency plan to go public with their disgust if he goes unpunished. There is unlikely to be much mercy shown to troughing MEPs from Tory MPs in Westminster who resent the luxurious gravy train of their continental counterparts. In CCHQ Andy Coulson “wants a bloodbath” in Brussels…
Image courtesy of The Lakelander
Tory MEP Sir Robert Atkins Flew to Son’s Wedding on EU Expenses
His wife, Dulcie, is employed as a secretary and his son, James, worked for him in Brussels until 2004.
Ed Balls & Yvette Cooper
This morning on Sky Adam Boulton asked Ed Balls about the double claiming for mortgages by him and his wife, “it’s complicated” was the reply. Tell us Ed, where is your primary residence really Ed? (He is a reader of this blog).
Boris uncovers Ken’s Wasted Millions
So here are four points her defenders need to answer:-
- The nanny’s latest statement (being distributed by CCHQ) matches almost word for word Spelman’s carefully drafted statement. Coincidence? All her own words? In Court that would be called “coaching the witness”, for obvious reasons judges don’t like it.
- If Spelman was doing nothing wrong, why did she stop the arrangement? If she later thought it wrong, why did she not pay back the money? Either it was proper and there was no need to stop the arrangement, or it was improper and she should have paid back the money.
- A lot of low income single mothers are jailed for fiddling benefits. A year’s salary for a nanny is a significant sum – circa £20,000 – more than a single mother gets on benefits. Why should this benefits fiddle at the taxpayer’s expense be treated differently? Why should a struggling single mother fiddling benefits go to jail, but a powerful, wealthy married mother doing the same be praised for her integrity?
- What kind of “constituency secretary” doesn’t type a single letter?
Answers in the comments please.
In 2003 she told The Observer “Sleaze was a particular turn-off to female voters and I can quite understand that. They also, in 1997, felt that the Conservative Party was out of touch and arrogant.” It would be a full four years before she took the first chance available to fiddle her expenses…
UPDATE : Those claiming that the children were at school in May 1997 so the nanny was free for six hours during the day should note that the youngest son was pre-nursery age (2 1/2 years old, born December 1994).
It is just not at all credible, stop pushing this line, it compounds matters.
Can Spelman credibly lecture wayward MEPs on their expenses now? Can she now credibly defend and advance Cameron’s genuinely hardline policy on expense fiddling? The answer is a resounding “no”. If senior Tories publicly defend her or make excuses, as Osborne has just done, they will re-contaminate the Tory brand.
Caroline Spelman should first of all admit the truth and apologise. Pay back the money defrauded. Accept that she can’t after this credibly be the public face of the Conservative Party’s anti-sleaze agenda. It was only three months ago that Cameron gave a keynote speech blaming the loss of public faith in political institutions on the loss of trust in politicians:
Our Parliament is scorned. Our parties are shrinking … Let’s be clear what they think of us: “you lie and you spin, you fiddle your expenses and you break your promises.” To describe this disengagement and cynicism as a ‘mood’ is to underestimate both the depth and the intensity of the breakdown…
Dave needs to “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk”. In Ireland in the mid-1990s the Progressive Democrats, a liberal centre-right party, came from nowhere to a decade of power on the back of a “clean hands, anti-corruption” platform. In the government coalition with Fianna Fáil they ended up turning a blind eye to Bertie Ahern’s personal financial fiddles. They were consequently wiped out electorally after voters lost faith in their “clean hands” brand. Don’t underestimate the danger here…
No messing about, as soon as she got elected to the trough she started pigging out. It is endemic in the political class regardless of what colour rosette they wear. Geoff Hoon fiddles his mortage allowance, Tony Blair too abused it (as Cherie implicitly confessed in her new book), Nick Clegg amazingly makes an expenses claim that – to the penny – matches the maximum legally allowed. Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper fiddle their combined allowances and lie about their primary residence. They are almost all at it, they see it as a perk of the job. None are prosecuted, so it will go on. Let us be clear about this, it is not another “technical breach of the rules”, Spelman was stealing from the taxpayers.
“I have asked the Quaestors to investigate the reason that I did not receive clarification from the European Parliament about my arrangements for paying staff, even