Friday, May 08, 2009

Lies, Damn Lies And Ministers' Expenses

Shamed Brown and his greedy ministers are left wriggling after their sordid expenses scams laid bare the rot at the heart of the cabinet. Caught with their snouts in the trough and without a shred of morals, they are left hiding behind rotten 'rules' blatantly exploited to fund lavish lifestyles.

Brown and his cabinet are under fire after the Telegraph blew the lid off the sordid expenses scandal dogging greedy ministers in the fag-end government.

How can any of them ever look their constituents straight in the eye again?

Released with immaculate timing to hit the 10pm TV news, wrong-foot newspaper rivals and send Downing Street into a spin, the explosive revelations are a welcome public service for the poor punters who have to pay for minister's expensive expenses life of luxury.

Put up as the 'acceptable' face of government and untainted by a flipping 'second home', cheerleader Hattie Harman's feeble attempts to justify the outrage with the usual claptrap on the BBC's Today programme cuts no ice with voters and should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

New Labour lackeys are falling over themselves to put up smokescreens. Expect the usual indignation over the alleged mole who allegedly leaked to the Telegraph and pathetic bollocks over 'chequebook journalism'. The belated back-lash from spinning Mandy has already started, having the gall to attack it all as "smears". But if ever there was a public interest justification this is it.

Tory, LibDems and lowly Labour MPs too are sweating. But that's not the issue. At the heart is Brown and his bunch of greedy cabinet colleagues without a shred of moral dignity between them.

They are members of the cabinet. Top of the heap. Bleating about "just following the rules" doesn't cut any ice with voters. MPs set the rules. Where's the moral dignity? Why make those dodgy claims in the first place? Just because you can and think you can get away with it because everyone was at it, doesn't make it right.

Why can't a minister just come out and say sorry? What I did was foolish, it was wrong. I just went with the flow of the gravy train. But instead the country has to put up with the usual NewLabour speak lines, trotted out to try to justify greed with feeble excuses.

Guido has published a handy pork-busters guide to the lies and double speak.

Of course the whole rotten, squalid sham needs cleaning up and no doubt it will after parliament's independent sleaze watchdog comes up with a plan all parties can sign up to.

But why has it taken so long to get round to doing anything about it? And what kind of example is the cabinet setting, with its culture of greed that breeds a bunch of chancers who think they can get away with it.

So far Brown and 12 of his ministers have been named and shamed by the Telegraph. Right in the firing line of damaging headlines, Brown is being forced to explain away some of his claims, which included the bare-faced cheek of paying his brother for "cleaning services".

Many MPs from all parties were already breaking out in a sweat as five years’ worth of expenses claims were due to be published in July, under the Freedom of Information law.

That would have exposed the naked truth and allowed journalists and the public to cross-check who was doing what, where, when and with whom and exactly how much taxpayers were having to stump up to feed the greed.

But there was outrage from the media as it was revealed crucial information on the receipts would have been blacked out, making it difficult for taxpayers to get the full extent of the parliamentary scam and cross-check expenses with second homes addresses.

The Telegraph's uncensored copy of the receipts, laid bare the extent of the fiddles and how some ministers used every trick in the book to exploit the rotten system.

Desperately trying to put a lid on the whole sordid affair and limit the damage ahead of July's publication, Brown suffered a humiliating commons defeat last week when he was forced to drop his half-baked plans for a quick fat cat bonus fix, announced on his foolish YouTube video in a blatant piece of party political posturing.

The Telegraph leader sums it up: "The systematic misappropriation by MPs of the allowance paid to defray the expense of keeping a second home is one of the great scandals of modern public life."

This goes far beyond the sniggers of taxpayer-funded bath-plugs, barbecues and busty babes. This is a sustained and shameful abuse of taxpayers money which has been going on for years to fund another bunch of fat cats. All officially sanctioned.

The explosive revelations take time to digest. The Orange Party's silliest so far? Two-Loos Prescott claiming for new toilet seats.

Of course it all boils down to public trust. But now the government is trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted, leaving the filthy state of the stables behind them.

This is another fine mess ministers have got themselves into and have only themselves to blame.

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