The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Credit Crunch Corner

Posted by The Futility Monster on June 21, 2009 @ 10:52

Amidst all the flurry of expenses revelations, the claiming of cheap items seems to have caught the public’s imagination more than anything. After all, we’ve all been particularly excited about Jacqui Smith’s 88p bath plug.

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Somehow, that makes us just as angry as the rather curious cases of perhaps the only people ever to have forgotten that they’d paid off their mortgage. One would have thought that the date of the final payment of your own mortgages – the date of glorious freedom from the shackles of banking oppression –  is indelibly etched onto the inside of the eyelids. But not to these honourable gentlemen.

I digress.  The Daily Mail was even very kind enough to supply a list of all the cheapest MP claims, starting with a 1p phone call. You can just imagine the synthetic apoplectic rage building up in the old dears as they read this particular column. How dare they! How very dare they!

Perhaps the reason we find these claims worthy of note  is that it’s all just so stingy. Surely they should be able to afford all this kind of stuff out of their own back pocket? After all, that’s what the rest of us do.

But – beware. Because for every £19.99 comedy wig, there is a 38p Muller Crunch Corner.

For a start, as I’m a fan of Crunch Corners, 38p is bloody good value. But the offending item in question was charged to millionaire Shaun Woodward MP’s allowances. That makes it even worse, apparently. How dare this rich bastard have the brass neck to take our hard-earned taxpayer’s money for the benefit of their waistline!

On Sky News this morning, Shaun Woodward availed himself of the opportunity to explain.

The item was bought by his researcher and reimbursed as a subsistence expense.

That seems entirely reasonable to me. After all, when most people are out of work on a business trip, they’re quite happy to submit receipts and reclaim the cost of lunch.

Indeed, as a former MPs researcher myself, I even managed to find one of my own claims amongst the many details published the other day. The claim: a pub meal as I was out of the office, accompanying my MP on several visits all day (I’d brought my own packed lunch) and got home about 10pm.

With that in mind, Shaun Woodward’s defence sounds entirely reasonable. If it’s true, then there’s no problem. We have to pay for democracy somehow. Otherwise, the only people who will be MPs will be the rich and independently wealthy. I can assure you that that would be even less “representative” than our current so-called representative democracy.

So while some MPs are getting all they deserve, and the whole thing has made me more cynical than ever, we’ve gotta try to keep the whole thing in perspective…

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