Monday, 23 March 2009

My Other Home's on Expenses

For those of you living without any form of media stimulus because you can't afford newspapers any more, or if your television has been repossessed along with your home, recent news regarding the clever personal accounting of some of our MPs must have come as a bit of a nasty shock. We have learned that it’s apparently a widely accepted practice amongst our elected representatives to claim expenses for whichever of their several residences yields the most dosh, and it doesn't seem to matter whether it's the constituency home of the MP, or where Mum and Dad live, or a sister's house in London as long as there's money to be made from it. By performing this devious switcheroo, some MPs are taking huge amounts of cash from the public purse to which they are not morally entitled. It appears that the lax guidelines (I won't call them "rules" as there obviously aren't any) allow claims regardless of the true validity or necessity of that claim as long as the criteria is loosely met. We are told by the newspapers that it's actually possible to charge for alternative accomodation in London when an MP's actual home is itself only eight miles away, something which must really piss off thousands of rail commuters who strap-hang every day on sweaty overcrowded trains for many more miles than that and pay a large chunk of their salary for the privilege of doing it.

For us ordinary people who have to pay our own bills (no John Lewis list for us, unfortunately) and are trying to survive the current financial balls-up (or "down-turn" as it is quaintly known) imposed upon us by a sleep-walking government and a criminally greedy financial sector, news that some of our very own public officials are apparently shafting us via their expenses claim forms is, putting it mildly, a bit sick-making. For the thousands of people facing eviction from their homes having been lured into borrowing more money than they could ever hope to pay back should the financial climate change, as it has, learning that some of our own political masters are allegedly raking it in by means of some very nifty financial footwork is somewhat galling, to say the least. If only they could have managed our economy as efficiently as they've managed to line their own pockets, we wouldn't be in the monetary mire that we currently find ourselves splashing around in. It really pisses me off to think of our student children racking up massive debts in order to get an education which many of these public servants got for free, yet with tuition fees set to rise again those self same government officials are still receiving way more than their rightful share of public funding. It just doesn’t seem fair. How can they take this unearned money when it is so badly needed in very many more deserving areas? Hospitals, schools, pensions? Impoverished public services? Many people in this country can't even afford to see a dentist, let alone run a second home to make going to work a bit easier. It makes my blood boil. But even more seriously, my heart breaks for every young service man or woman sent to war on our behalf, ill-equipped and vulnerable and put at risk because of cost. Put into this context these expenses' fiddles become, quite frankly, obscene.

So far, outed MP’s say they’ve done nothing wrong when what I think they actually mean is that they haven't broken any laws or fallen foul of any party policy. However, there is a difference between being regulated by law or adhering to an expected code of decent behaviour, a distinction which is obviously not understood by some. As dear old Eric Morcambe used to say "they can't touch you for it", so this type of monetary manipulation has become common practice and is therefore deemed by some creative thinkers to be OK, simply because until now it has been allowed. A blind eye has been turned, thus giving credence to the scam. Worryingly, many more MPs than we know of are probably getting away with this sort of thing on a continuous basis and are legitimately, if immorally, helping themselves to public money - grabbing seats on the UK gravy train even as it runs out of steam, dipping their bread into the fat of the land which is oozing out of Great Britain plc as we, the tax-paying public, face the most serious financial roasting of our time.

Now the excrement has hit the rotating blades and the newspapers have got hold of the story, is anyone going to stop this dodge? Can these people be shamed? And, if not, within a self-regulating system who is going to stop them? We are told there’s going to be a full review, but I for one won’t hold my breath to see if this legalized pocket-picking is going to end any time soon.

One thing's for certain. I'd really like to ask any of the guilty parties to stop pretending that this abuse of position is all right when it definitely is not OK. I'd like to say "C'mon chaps, do the decent thing." I'd like to feel that elected Members of Parliament know the difference between right and wrong and that the trust put in them by their electorate wasn't misplaced.

And I'd like them to stop taking the piss.

That's it. Rant over.


The Finely Tuned Woman said...

It was an excellent rant and read like a fast moving train. I became indignant for you and I am Dutch and should not care. But by God, the balls of these people and to claim it is all legal. I can imagine very well how angry you are and righteously so. The whole country should be in an uproar and I hope it is.

Norman said...

There was a time when those in power "did the decent thing" and resigned for far, far less. Remember the Profumo affair? The Suez crisis?
At least our leaders were men of honour then.
Unlike now, alas.

Norman said...

Welcome back BTW. I was getting a bit worried. Where ya been?

Swearing Mother said...

Hello, FTW. Nice to read you. I really hope people are angry about this, but sadly I think we're getting used to this sort of thing unfortunately. Thanks for visiting, next time hopefully I won't be in such a bad mood!

Norman, hi. I do indeed remember when people understood about saying sorry, and meaning it. Nowadays the only time they apologise is when it's politically expedient to do so. Am I getting cynical? Think so.

I haven't been anywhere really, was just considering whether or not to continue with my blog, start another one or give up altogether. Then recent events really annoyed me and I just had to write a rant. You know how it is....

Lovely to talk to you again.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

And if you cannot rant here about injustice, where can it be done more safely? Take care, you!

Mopsa said...

Hmm, I've been wondering how to blog about this as it makes me entirely mad too, but what with lambing, other things have been taking my headspace. Unbelievable behaviour - how DARE they even pretend that the smallest knuckle on their smallest digit is socialist. Bunch of hypocritical greed guzzlers (can you guzzle on greed - yup, they've proved it).

Swearing Mother said...

Hi Mopsa, yes indeed greed can be guzzled in the same way as piglets guzzle greedily at the trough.

You must be busy with lambing right now, just think of what percentage of your flock goes to supporting MPs' dodgy expenses!

Think it's about time we got the gribbling irons out?

Phidelm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cath said...

Ranting is good for you, but not when a neighbour up the road keeps trolling in your blog and reading all your emotions. Consequently, I have had to go "private" on the blog.
So, would you mind sending me an email address so that I can "invite" you to read my blog? Please?

Phidelm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maggie May said...

A jolly good rant that and one that we all sympathize with.
Good to hear from you again!
Please don't give up! You are a b----y good blogger!

Expat mum said...

Send 'em over here to Chicago - they'd fit right in. Our ex-Governor is being impeached for all sorts of racketeering charges, is still proclaiming his innocence even tho' we have everything on tape, and yesterday hosted his own radio show. No shame whatsoever!