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Cameron/Clegg will be regretting their expenses sanctimoniousness

Posted on 30 May 2010 | 10:05am

Am about to leave for the Beeb to do my first broadcast interview on Prelude to Power, with Jon Sopel on The Politics Show.

So just a quick word or two on the David Laws fallout. As I tweeted last night, I feel some personal sympathy for Laws, (which didn’t go down well with my followers) but none for David Cameron and Nick Clegg, who both milked the expenses scandal for all it was worth, Cameron getting four stars for sanctimoniousness, Clegg the full five. If there is one good thing to come out of this, it might make them feel less prone to mount a high horse whenever a bandwagon is passing.

As I said yesterday, it is hard to see much of a defence for what Mr Laws did, but the investigation will decide on that.

But in their words of praise for him last night, Cameron and Clegg were thinking far more about themselves than they were about their departing colleague. Cameron had found the man he felt had what it took to take the axe to public services, whilst sharing the political pain between two parties, and will be hoping the inquiry clears him and perhaps he can have him back at a later date. Clegg just wanted to prevent any lasting contamination of the Lib Dem brand.

But as I read Cameron’s letter, and watched Clegg’s Soviet-style doorstep to a single, seemingly unmanned camera, I couldn’t help thinking of their previous contributions on expenses.

When we were preparing with GB for the leaders’ debates, Clegg was played by GB aide Theo Bertram. As Clegg did through the campaign, Theo played the ‘we’re cleaner than the old parties’ line brilliantly, never missing the chance to say they had had nobody getting their collar felt, and that they had been forced to pay back less than the other parties. Once, almost in unison, GB and I turned on him and yelled at him to stop being so f***ing sanctimonious (I did the f-bit of course, not GB)

So as they now try to turn this from a story of expenses to a story of a human tragedy – which it is – do not forget it is also a story about leadership. If Laws, in Cameron and Clegg’s eyes, did nothing wrong – and their statements would suggest that is their basic take – and if he is so brilliant, then they might have put up more of a fight to keep him.

But where it is really a story of leadership is in what the whole expenses issue says about Cameron and the Tories. Both he and George Osborne had their issues with expenses, but had the media so far up their backsides most people have forgotten what they were.

We then saw how eagerly and how easily he was prepared to see some of his colleagues thrown to the wolves. They will be clocking the difference in his tone about them, and his tone about Laws.

But also just think back a few weeks to the day when it emerged Labour MPs charged over their expenses were seeking legal aid. Cameron, ever the opportunist, tore up his plans for the day, got a little event organised, and piled into the issue (carefully overlooking any ‘innocent till proven guilty’ type problems), saying Labour were a disgrace, and this kind of corruption and legal nonsense would never happen under him.

He soared to the top of the bulletins. The commentators spoke glowingly of how he had ‘seized the initiative.’ And I turned to Philip Gould and said ‘he’ll regret that one day.’

Little did I know that would be within a matter of weeks.

Their past sanctimoniousness explains why the Cameron Clegg statements sounded so hollow last night.

Clegg should use this to take stock. He came third in the election. He did not do as well as he or anyone else expected him to. Yet he is now deputy PM. That is beginning to rankle with a few people, and requires him to strike a slightly different tone.

So calm down a bit, Nick. Underclaim and over deliver. When you go around saying a ragbag of constitutional proposals – which in scale come nowhere near a Scottish Parliament, Welsh and NI Assemblies, elected mayors, FoI, Human Rights Act – represents the biggest change since the Great Reform Act (women’s votes came after that by the way) people start to wonder whether you are not inhaling your own propaganda too much.

*** Amazon link to Prelude to Power below. Hope it works. Yell if not

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Diaries-One-Prelude-1994-1997-Campbell/dp/0091797268/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1275208265&sr=8-1

  • Robin

    Typical Campbell take on this subject. In pre-New Labour days, Government Ministers resigned with dignity and took responsibility for their actions. In Blair’s New Labour they clung on to power for as long as possible, Mandelson being the prime example.
    This issue is nothing to do with Cameron and Clegg. It is all about a Minister being found to be in the wrong and doing the right thing and resigning. A pity New Labour never possessed the principles to behave in a similar fashion. No surprise really given people like Campbell being so powerful within the Labour hierarchy.

  • kitty-k8@live.com

    I agree it is very sad for him personally. But surely once we reach our middle years we should no longer be governed by fear of what our parents might say? I think his parents have at some point let him down. Our parental duty is to love unconditionally. He should have dealt with it before now.

    But I lose sympathy when I remember he is a multi-millionnaire and therefore had no need for any public money. Refraining from claiming it, against the rules, would have meant he had much greater chance of maintaining his privacy…

  • Charlie

    AC. How you have the bare-faced cheek to presume to lecture people, I do not know.

    The entire New-Labour project was the very definition of Sanctimoniousness (Prezza excepted).

    You should try harder to come to terms with being yesterday’s man.

  • Malcolm Kelly

    What goes around comes around … Cameron had his own questions to answer on expenses, only they were never really put because as you kept saying through the election campaign, he had the press mainly on his side. But it is always sensible to imagine different circumstances, and how you would react. I don’t share your sympathy for Laws, even at the personal level. He thought he could have it all – keep his parents happy, keep his partner happy, keep Dave and Gideon happy — and if it meant standing on his head and oveturning the polices on which I voted for him, so be it. Goodbye

  • Kathy

    Alistair, As I said in my previous blog politicians are all the same when it comes to expenses. They all saw it as a top up of their wages. At least David Laws did the decent thing and resigned which I don’t recall any Labour politicians doing. Gordon Brown claimed for dodgy cleaning expenses and when questioned by young people on Radio One he tried to defend them by saying they have to have two homes and are busy and need a cleaner. What never dawned on him was the fact that he should have paid for this himself. I have asked this question before but do politicians pay for anything out of their wages? Jacqui Smith should have resigned at once when her scam became public but she clung on until the wise people of Redditch turfed her out where she belonged. Hazel Blears flipped homes 3 times but unfortunately her constituents voted her back in rather than go for one of the other parties. Is this a woman you could trust? Very few politicians came out of the expenses scandal untarnished and I am not just picking on Labour politicians I think they are all as bad as each another. My point is, you can’t criticise Cameron and Clegg when the Labour leader of the time made all the right noises but did nothing to remove these two women from their posts. On all political sides all the leaders were selective with who they stood by or consigned to history. But that won’t wash any more all future governments must make sure their ministers or back benchers are not still milking the system and if they found to be they must go. Therefore, there is no point in Labour drooling over this story and hoping it means the Coalition is in trouble as there are probably some very big skeletons in the Labour closet waiting to be outed by the Media.

  • Ricky Sharma

    Well said. Funny how all Tories are now saying this is a Lim Dem issue. Guess what guys, you are all part of the same government and responsible for each other…that’s what coalition is all about, right, or did I miss something in the Rose Garden??

  • Trudi McVeigh

    I am intrigued by the changes to the Downing St comms team. Leaking the whole Queen’s Speech – that was a new one. Not putting ministers on debate programmes unless they can vet the panel. And now doing statemnts to camera without other human beings present. Oh, and is Andy Coulson doing your old job? If he was doing it for a Labour government, do you think we might be hearing a bit more about it and seeing a few phonetap cartoons? I can see you are trying to be charitable AC but I for one am loving every minute of seeing these smug tosspots squirm

  • Joanna Pritchard

    To all the conspiracy theorists who were saying yesterday that you knew this was all coming, which is why you had your photo of Laws on QT, I see in the Indy that Laws did not know the Telegraph were on his case till Friday. So conspiracy theorists go back to the Tory blogs where you belong

  • martin

    laws has just shown that ALL MPs and anyone connected to westminster are still corrupt. They do not tell the truth unless they are forced too. The government was right not to field a cabinet minister when the labour fielded YOU. An unelected liar. You performance on question time, which was just to promote your book, was terrible. You came across as a know it all who knows very little. You still cant get over the fact that labour LOST and they listened to you. You also cant stand the fact that everyone in fleet st ignores you and you dont have an ounce of power anymore. Must be hard for you

  • Bedd Gelert

    Joanna – Ah, yes, but where do you think the Telegraph got the story from ?? It has got Bad Al Campbell’s fingerprints all over it.

  • Boudicca

    There are still plenty of expense-fiddling fraudsters sitting on the Labour benches. Laws could have claimed far more in expenses if he had declared his constituency home as his second home (like Jacquie Smith). He didn’t and in doing so broke the rules but has at least done the decent thing and resigned … the same can’t be said for many who are now ex-Labour Ministers.

    The LibDems may not have done spectacularly well in the GE, but Labour did appallingly. 29% of the vote – the lowest percentage since Michael Foot. The only reason you have in excess of 250 seats is because of the gerry-mandered devolution settlement and unfair constituency boundaries. I hope both are sorted out before the next election and Labour is consigned to the oblivion it deserves.

    In 13 years of NuLabour, we had the most incompetent and sleezy Government ever and all we have to show for the Blair/Brown years is a wrecked economy.

  • AdamR

    This post reeks of a smug sense of satisfaction at the downfall of an otherwise good man. A man who was prepared to deal with the mess that your Government left behind for the people of this country Alistair.

    I am a Tory. But I am not a consipiracy theorist. Frankly I don’t believe you had anything to do with this, very simply because your once legendary ability to manage the media in a distinctly Tucker-esque fashion is now long faded. As an earlier poster says, you are well and truly yesterday’s man. But this does not give you the right to be sanctimonious over Laws’ downfall. Especially not after your own actions in Government.

    Laws was a good man. Probably a better man than you.

  • Johny

    Why should anyone have sympathy for him….

    He is a millionaire, if he didn’t want people to know his relationship he didn’t have to claim rent. Simple as, simple greed on his part, he deserves to go.

  • Chris lancashire

    Well done. You can always be counted on to drip your own special brand of poison on any situation.
    Laws claimed way less than he could have done and acted honourably throughout. And criticising Cameron and Clegg for showing the leadership that Brown quite evidently lacked is hilarious.

  • Daniel Kelly

    David Laws and Peter Lilley spoke in unison earlier in the week and have much in common….both appear to be very right of centre, good witty public speakers and both have a willingness for savagery with regard to public expenditure.

    Whether Mr Laws took up the cudgel for these savage cuts with a heavy heart having decried the Tories for months in advance of the General Election we must now question?

    We should also be asking the media BBC, Sky, and the Telegraph in particular why this PUBLIC INTEREST story took so long to surface?

    Where were Adam Boulton John Sopel Andrew Marr and Andrew Neill when we find one of the most important roles in the cabinet is being offered to and accepted by an MP who for whatever reason..sexual orientation or otherwise it would appear has fiddled his expenses?..This for a man who with Mr Cameron and his twenty three independantly wealthy millionaires in the cabinet made much of the refusal of a pay rise for cabinet ministers…Like much of what they claim is a no impact gesture which compared to their plans to undermine family credits and other benefits to the less well off serves only to highlight their shamefaced hypocracy. Like the fiddling Tories of past generations they support their own and Mr Laws is one of them.
    Those who have praised this man who if proved guilty should be sacked from the commons for gross misconduct.

  • Ronnie

    Am I the only one mystified by David Laws’s sudden elevation to the role of ‘economic genius the country can’t do without’?

    Before the weird anomaly of the LibDems choosing the Tories, he seemed undriven, unambitious, quite happy to drift along in political obscurity with no real expectation or hope of power. And we were quite happy to leave him there.

    In the economic crisis, was he the number one guest wheeled out on all the shows because we needed him to give us the benefit of his incomparable wisdom? No. I can’t ever remember him being one of the the go-to guys as for example Vince Cable was on a daily basis.

    I agree it’s a personal tragedy. But I’m not buying this ‘indispensible to the country’ tag. He seems to be a guy who was keeping his head down politically as well as personally, and I don’t think it will make much difference if we go back to simply not paying him much attention.

  • mike knoth

    Excellent from alistair, could have written it myself
    apart from this area of personal tradgedy
    who died?
    This phrase also used by Lord Ashdown is wrong a mother losing her son in afghanistan is a tradgedy!
    The spurious excuses coming fromMr Laws did him no credit it though he resigned with dignity in the end.
    The electorate only seek to see the law and principal apply toMPs as it does to them In David Cameron’s holy of holies the private sector very little if any conpunction
    would there have been before sacking all these fiddlers for gross misconduct they would very likey then go before the courts why is it so many clearly able people do such damn stupid things then expect no sanction is it naievity or pure arroganceIUf they are so bright they must know what they’ve been doing is wrong in principal never mind
    the’rules’

  • Mark Wright

    Why am I not surprised this situation has befallen David Laws so soon?

    I couldn’t help feeling when watching him at the dispatch box opposite Alistair Darling that he’d got just a little bit too big for his boots just a little bit too soon. His demeanor was smug and sanctimonious and his personal jibes against Gordon brown were petty and uncalled for.

    For a person who is a member of the 3rd largest party and only has his position of power due to the inability of ANY of the main parties to gain the support of the electorate I felt his arrogance at odds with the reality of his situation.

    As I watched the exchange (Darling retaining his characteristic dignity throughout) I thought to myself that if this misplaced hubris is displayed around colleagues and those he deals with in the press etc it won’t be long before somebody will be wanting to clip his wings pretty sharpish.

    Of course The Sunday Telegraph may well have other agendas regarding the coalition in general but Laws’ undeniably heartfelt resignation speech last night cannot detract from the fact that was coming across as a smug sanctimonious git who needed a slap.

    Well considered yourself slapped, Sir!

  • Louise

    David Laws made it worse for himself. I feel for him being outed but he, by his loose interpretation in his statement of what a partnership was, is responsible for any focus that there might have been on sexuality. Partnerships of all sexual persuasions retain separate accounts and have separate social lives, you cannot define partnership so loosely. Had he been a benefit claimant and used the same definition,his income would be stopped, he’d be interviewed under caution, be prosecuted for fraud, deception, making false claims and have to repay the cash too, not to mention being liable for a prison sentence of up to eighteen months.
    I don’t care whether he lives with James or Jane, the facts are he acted dishonestly in claiming, he continued with that dishonesty by not coming clean about the claim until the Telegraph approached him with the story and then he used his sexuality as a defence. If it had not been for the Telegraph story, and whoever gave them the story, we the public would be non the wiser, he would still have his job and he would still owe 40k to the public purse. There has been nothing honourable in Laws’ response at all. He bought it on himself. The defence that he could have made more money by declaring his partnership so therefore was not in it for personal gain doesn’t wash either. He didn’t need to claim anything, greed got him where he is today.

  • Charlie Reynolds

    Talking of running away from things – why have you not put any of my commentary up for the last few weeks? Too close to the bone?

    For us mere mortals out here we are all just rejoicing at the fact you and Mandelson are no longer in government. It feels great. Wow a minister resigns immediately even when he has potentially done nothing wrong! Wow – just like under Labour?! ahem

    Also – just cos youve got a book out – trying to milk money for yourself by destroying the Labour party even further – you think a spiel about the things you said when you were playing the part of Cleggy will distract loyal Labour members from tht fact. Don’t think so matey. You have only ever been out for yourself, Blair and now Blair’s heir. F*** everyone else.

    We don’t forget what you did or how you operate Ali. We will never forget it. If I were you I wouldnt be able to live with myself for what you did over Iraq and the humiliation of our country.

    I hope the money you get from your book is able to make up for some of your guilt, for your sake.

  • Gareth Williams

    As the Sun won’t say – “GOTCHA !!!”

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  • Paul McMenamin

    Agree with AC on the Clegg hyperbole. Tristam Hunt made a point about new regimes instantly tarnishing the record of the previous this week and looking at the list of 97-10 achievements, I think future genrations will be much kinder as far as Labour’s constitutional record is concerned. Again, NI leaps out, and someone who grew up there, there can be no doubting the role TB/MM and others (AC included) played in creating the current, albeit imperfect, powersharing arrangement. Now that IS a coalition at work! Hope Con-Dems have a more nuanced approach than their electoral pact with the UU’s would suggest

  • Carl

    Cameron and Clegg had an opportunity to show real leadership and stand up for a man they believed in. They bottled it and happily sacrificed Laws. In my book, that is cowardice.

  • kathy

    Alistair, I have just been reading extracts from your new book in the paper. I guess you will be off Cherie’s Christmas Card list from now on. You only confirmed what we all guessed already about this horrible woman. However,do you not think these diaries will just confirm that you are two faced and constantly spinning? Before this you were praising Gordon and seemed to be Tony’s best friend. If what you are now writing is the truth, it proves that everything you said before was lies and you are not to be trusted. Or are you just sensationalizing to make more money. I’m confused. What is the real truth about The Labour Years? The picture you paint is certainly not a wholesome one and I would love to know Tony, Gordon and Cherie’s reaction to your portrait of them..

  • Mark Brierley

    I have the perfect solution to stop such an incident happening again. Why not means-test MPs expenses, as is done for older people who need care? The excuse that Flaws didnt claim that much on his expenses masks the fact that he was rich enough to not claim anything at all. And then his private life would have been protected. Or is the old adage still true, that the rich need to be paid more to work harder and the poor need to be paid less for the same result

  • anonymous

    One question that I have not heard askedis as follows

    How much do you stand to gain from the sale of the second property that you contributed to the purchase of and also claimed rent on expenses and secondly did any of the rent money go to repay the extended mortgage on your somerset property thereby giving the lie to the assertion that you have not benefited financially from the arrangements?

  • Theresa

    So Laws has gone. Good! I’m not buying all the, i did not profit crap. He did profit. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have claimed, which leads me to Gideon Osbourne. Didn’t he breach parliamentary rules when it came to expenses. From what i understand he is one of the worst offenders, yet he gets to slash our public services with great excitement and delight.

    This GLOBAL recession must be a wet dream for Gideon. I bet he’s having them on a regular basis right now on the run up to his emergency budget….Anyway, I’m glad Laws has gone. Gideon Osbourne loved having him there, simply because, He knew Laws was as excited about the up and coming avalanche as he was.

  • maxy

    Far from behaving honourably, I believe that David Laws was a coward for not coming out about his sexuality. He has been caught with his fingers in the till in that he has broken parliamentary rules about not paying money to partners. I heard the Liberal guard Oli Grenden and Simon Hughes et al rush to the defence of David Laws. Grenden even went so far to argue that he could have claimed a lot more money and was somehow more honest for claiming less. Let us be clear theft is theft and he has clearly broken parliamentary rules.
    If David Laws is such an honourable man then why did he not come clean about this form the very beginning. Hearing David Cameron and Nick Clegg describe David Laws as honourable is galling. Where is the honour in what he has done or failed to do. Were he an income support claimant, he would have been up before the magistrates court. He clearly sought to circumvent the rules in order to increase the private purse of his partner. What is worse is that he could easily have dipped into his own not inconsiderable purse and avoided drawing from the public purse. In that respect he has let down both the parliamentary system as well as his family.
    The supporters of David Law have often cited his exceptional cleverness. Does that mean that David Laws also viewed himself as exceptional and by implication above the law. It is not a question of David Laws being honourable by resigning his position, he had no choice, he had to resign. I would go one step further and state that he should resign his parliamentary seat. Lenin and Stalin were exceptionally clever but they also made bad judgements for which they have been roundly condemned and judged.

    Let us not forget also that before the parliamentary rules were changed on claiming for items less than two hundred pounds, David Laws regularly submitted large claims for utilities, maintenance etc. Correct me if I am wrong but most tenants do not pay a maintenance charge. That is the responsibility of the landlord. Notably such claims fell dramatically once the parliamentary rules were changed. I wonder why……….. A clear case of false accounting methinks for someone who could easily have footed this bill!!

  • Dr Olu Ojedokun

    At the last election David Laws placed in his publicity leaflets the following words:

    “David was recently given a clean bill of health by the independent Legg inquiry and was not asked to pay back any money. David was the lowest-claiming MP across Somerset and Dorset, while some Tory MPs had to repay money for moat clearances and duck houses. He is an MP we can be proud of.”

    The leaflet was not created by the Labour Party or Alastair Campbell.

    Both Cameron and Clegg maximised Labour’s embarrassment whilst in government over the issue of expenses. In particular Clegg painted himself as a saint and an apostle of new politics.

    By all means one may criticise the old government for past ‘sins’ but surely not for David Laws hypocrisy, corruption and greed. Furthermore no one cares what he chooses to do behind the four walls of his shared residence, surely that his his business and its not in issue.

  • Baig

    I agree about Cam/Clegg but on Laws. The man is a criminal for theiving tax payer money and spending it on his boyfriend. adding to insult is that he is a millionaire and 40k is a bit of change for him.

    I find it sickening the way Cam and Ckegg are praising him when before the elections they said they would go like a ton of bricks on anyone not being straight about their expenses, Cameron saying he would sack anyone found doing so, Clegg saying the expenses scandal caused a massive distrust in politics (not his party though. But oh yes, this was when they wanted votes and were not in power!

    The media have behaved despicable too, are they forcing me to cry for him? Imagine if this was a Labour MP? They never said a good word about Brown despite his tremendous qualities and good work. But this is coalition of Cam and Clegg and we must do everything to keep them in power. He should just be paying his expenses but the holier-than-thou man should be punished as should all millionaires in power who misuse the hard-earned money of the poor. Filthy I call it.

  • Ben Taylor

    great to see cameron with egg on his grinning face. what’s insulting (even more so than clegg being dep pm which still makes me want to kick chairs) is the fact that after all his apparent indignation over expences, and now this, the press commend him for his decisiveness? as if he could have done anything else for god sake! the bloke was a gonner and a very silly one too. all this new government shows really to the voters is that these days you don’t need anything appart a nice smile, acting lessons and over earnest proclamations to gain power. who’s going to be the next PM Darius??

  • Mike

    Watching you on Question Time was like hearing truth for once. I would like to thank you for continuing to be forthright and show courage in the face of the machine that is the right wing media and for calmly, articulating what many of us outside the media bubble know to be reality.

  • Chris Mendes

    Hi Alastair,

    Just wanted to say that I thought you were very interesting to listen to on Question Time, and although I understand that you are probably retiring from politics now, I hope you remain as a political commentator to continue to offer your pragmatic, common-sense, impact opinions.

    You’re an excellent debator with all the passion that has been so compelling about Labour during the last 13 years.

    And on this thought, I realised very quickly that this is exactly what is still needed in the next leader of the party. Someone with real passion, like Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, but someone who is far better at expressing that passion and fight which was definetely lacking in our last leader.

    Do any of the current leadership contenders have these two attributes? I’m really not convinced. If I’m wrong and one of them does, David Milliband for example who you’ve said you are backing – then it really won’t take much at the next election to persuade people to support Labour as opposed to the Conservatives, David Cameron who has the ability to express but clearly not the underlying passion.

    Not caring at all how other readers might feel about this next sentence – but I just wanted to submit my complete respect and gratitude to you personally, and wish you all the best in the future what ever you end up doing.

    Regards,

    Chris

  • Celia

    I agree that MPs’ expenses claims should be means-tested. This is not just to do with David Laws, as his situation seems like a technicality to me. But the fact that already wealthy people are allowed to claim taxpayers’ money seems unfair to me – especially when many of these same Members are complaining that some of the poorest in society are spending too much of taxpayers’ money on such frivolities as eating food and living in a house. Many of these people need to step back and take a good long hard look at how much privilege they have, and there should be a serious public discussion about whether they should be afforded some of it. I mean to say, as a person on Incapacity Benefit, I have to beg and grovel for the money I receive, and I don’t think I’ve had as much as £40K in all the years I’ve been claiming.

  • Speccycol

    I’ve been enjoying your ‘never happened under labour’ tweets. You need a hashtag, such as #NHUL – could take off.

    @speccycol

  • Lynn Lloyd

    I hate journalists and spokes saying that he didn’t do it for financial gain because he is rich and doesn’t need the money! So it’s ok to break the rules and fiddle if you are rich but if you need the money and are relatively poor then you should be done in!

    If Laws wanted to be honest he shouldn’t have charged anything and said he stays for free with friends.

    I am gay and I know how hard it is to come out – I did it and have never regretted it. It is everyone’s individual choice but he is very arrogant to think he could have the power and hide his lover away.

  • kathy

    Celia, I am sure that no taxpayer in the country and I include MPs of all political pursuasion wants to see any genuinely ill people being deprived of their incapacity benefits. I am sorry you feel you have to beg or grovel for it, this certainly is not right. However, there has to be some way of checking that people are genuinely incapable of work.In some cases it must be perfectly obvious that people with certain conditions/illnesses cannot work and they should receive all the help we can give. For the others unfortunately the only way to check they are genuine is to test them and I’m afraid that has always been the case no matter which government is in power. It is the same for pensioners trying to get benefits they are entitled to is an uphill struggle with a ten page form asking stupid questions. There must be some way of simplifying applications but unfortunately until someone comes up with a better way this is the only way to check claimants are genuine. As a country we can no longer afford just to pay benefits to everyone who claims them without proof they deserve them.

  • Baig

    Absolutely, expenses for MPs should be no different to benefit claims. Both come from taxes so they should be treated the same. In fact, claiming expenses as MPs should be much tougher and only given when necessary. This is because they already receive a decent wage whereas the person on benefits is usually only getting enough to get by.

    I cannot fathom how and why millionaires are allowed to claim expenses. Without even fiddling it gives a sense that they do not care about the well-being of this country and its economy but only care about their own pockets and fame. At a time when the coalition is talking about asuterity, cuts and job losses for the ordinary, what the hell are the millionaire pack in Downing Street doing claiming all these expenses?

    Child Trust Fund which helps poor families is gone but expenses for millionaires stays. They will cut tax credits, school funding, sure start and other things that help the less privileged but frivolous expenses for millionaires stays. It enforces the idea that they are all the same!

    I understand some MPs are in need of it and the job is quite demanding, but for people like Cameron, Osbourne and Laws to be in receipt of this money is what I call wasteful and crazy spending!

  • Baig

    Just read Ronnie’s post: Am I the only one mystified by David Laws’s sudden elevation to the role of ‘economic genius the country can’t do without’?

    I felt exactly the same. I had no idea who this man was before election day.

    How dare he use the privacy card, he did not show much care for privacy when he paraded Liam Byrne’s private note to the press, sign of a man who is chilidish and hungry for media and Tory applause. He should not be surprised that the same press has now exposed him. What goes around comes around hey. Why do some politicians use these sympathy tools only when it suits them? Well time to feel like Liam for some time, but many times worse.

    I was wary of him the day I saw him in the coalition talks and his arrogance became more apparent with the note exposing and mud-chucking on the previous govt. He fought his seat by ripping into the rival Tory MPs in the area not being straight about their expenses whilst he was so clean. But this was before he had the whiff of power which led him to share a bed with the Tories. I cringed everyime I saw him with his new found love Osbourne and everytime he spoke about the u-turned Lib Dem economic policy on cuts.

    More people like him should be out of politics and I want to see politics cleaned up in proper terms, not just rhetoric by two-faced smugs who want our votes so they can eat our money and reap the blessings of ministerial honour.

  • kathy

    Means Testing MPs is something that is never going to happen. All parties had their snouts in the trough. In all parties you will find millionaires and a lot more than you think in Labour. They may claim to be the party of the working class but you will be hard pressed to find any of them struggling to pay their bills because none of them paid any bills. Politicians have been claiming for at least 20 years for everything from food, travel, mortgage interest and even poppy wreaths. The majority of them all who have been MPs for a long time must all be millionaires courtesy of the taxpayer. Property portfolios, second homes, patio heaters, porn movies,duck moats, they have all been at it. There is no point in saying millionaires don’t need the money, most of the MPs in parliament didn’t need the money but they still claimed. They are all the same and now we can only move forward and make sure they are never allowed to do it again. If justice were done there would be about a dozen MPs left in parliament, the rest would be in prison for fraud. Unfortunately that is not going to happen so now David Laws has resigned and it was the right thing to do. If we are going to have tit for tat leaks of expenses claim then obviously the promised clean up hasn’t happened and needs to be addressed again. All MPs need to know that the public will not tolerate any more making money and gaining property portfolios from dodgy expenses claims. Some of them are already moaning about the new changes, well perhaps their constituents could use the recall law that the Coalition are talking about and recall call them and kick them out. If Hazel Blears constituents had done this at the election, it might make MPS think twice about trying it on again. Instead she is back on the gravy train again and making more money by appearing on BBC This Week. I repeat again they are all the same, there are no whiter than white ones in any party. They all fiddled and most of them got away with it.

  • Louise

    Kathy,
    I agree with you that there should be a better way but there isn’t. The system needs a whole change but the nature of the beast is such that sticking plasters get applied in an effort to make changes.
    I too am on Incap, I am under 6 consultants and have a chronic incureable illness. I’ve been kicked off benefit, I’ve had to appear before tribunals to appeal the kicking off decision. Those doing medical assesments consist usually 3 on a panel and only one has to be medical and that medical one is often no better than the old S.E.N. qualification.(2 yrs nurse training)
    People who are defrauding the system know how to play it, know how to act their ‘incapabilities’ out. I have a neighbour who has been off with depression for twenty years, if she was depressed fair enough but she isn’t, it’s a way of getting a better benefit to her, she committed 30k worth of fraud in holding down five cleaning jobs and she received a suspended sentence, she still gets incap benefit, she passes every medical whereas I, and many more like me, don’t.
    It’s not the fraudsters and fiddlers who get kicked off, it’s people like me and Celia.
    A major point also that should be addressed, if you have been getting state sick pay for 28 weeks, you automatically go up to a higher rate, you get put on the higher rate by default – no one actually applies for it. People then see that sickness benefit pays more and that’s why so many people want to be on it who actually aren’t really sick. Anxiety and depression is the highest reason for sickness for benefit claimants, now a lot will be genuine but there’s an awful lot more just using it to swing the system their way because – as they say – no one can prove I’m not depressed.
    I am dreading what lies in store for me with this new Government.

  • Scott

    What Laws doesn’t appear to appreciate is we’re not interested in his partner, his sexuality or anything else – other than the fact he fraudulently claimed 40,000 of taxpayers money.

    My other irritation is this “we see a role for him in the future” – if I was to steal 40,000 from my employer (the NHS) I suspect I wouldn’t be being offered a new job anytime soon even if I did offer to pay it back immediately. To say the man has integrity is the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time!

  • Jane A

    I agree with Scott, and I also work for the NHS.

    David Laws may have a number of talents, but firstly, if you do not want your private life to be transparent, public service & politics may not be the career for you.

    No one cares any more about sexuality, tho I guess family & friends may feel let down if this has been kept from them.

    People do care about £40k of taxpayers’ funds being paid to a (clandestine) partner of a public figure (who is coincidentally a millionaire.)

    Still, David Cameron thinks he is “good and honorable.”

    I hope not to meet his dishonorable friends…