Saturday, May 09, 2009

Ministers Sweat It Out On Gravy Train Shame

More of Brown's greedy ministers have been caught with their snouts in the trough as MPs sweat it out in the expenses racket which continues to rock Westminster and fills the air with the rotten stench of corruption. 

For the first time, a little-known Tory has made it to the Gravy Train's hit-list of shame but that brings no relief to Brown's rabbit-eyed ministers who continue to be caught out in the headlights. 

Frantic efforts to explain away the rotten core at the heart of government is falling on the deaf ears of an increasingly angry public drip-fed a daily diet of damaging, damning deceit. 

But spinning efforts continue as ridiculous accusations of 'smears' and 'chequebook journalism' are the only lines of a weak and feeble defence and the obligatory police 'mole-hunt' a smokescreen for a public-spirited whistleblower.

The shocking extent of cabinet greed over parliamentary expenses is exposing Brown's New Labour ministers flitting and flipping their second homes without a by-your-leave and milking the expenses system for all its worth.

But no minister has had the guts to say sorry or even apologise. 

As the Telegraph's round up of sleaze shows no sign of abating, some MPs are reported to be on suicide watch as they break out in a cold sweat. Making them sweat is a start. A fitting punishment for their sins.

Time and again ministers are trotting out the pathetic excuse that they were only acting "within the rules" which is no defence in a war crimes tribunal and cuts no ice in the court of public opinion. 

Acting within a set of rotten rules without an ounce of moral dignity lays bare a greedy bunch of chancers who have become detached from reality.  

Punters meanwhile have to pay for their lavish lifestyles while forced to scrape a living and struggle to make ends meet out of their own pockets. 

Former chairman of the commons sleaze watchdog, Sir Alistair Graham, has said politicians have displayed a “lack of moral leadership” over their expenses.

The Orange Party goes much further. These greed merchants are nothing short of common criminals. They should be made to pay back their ill-gotten gains, hounded out of office with tails between their legs and force a by-election to clear the air of the rotten stench.

Today it's junior ministers who have hard questions to answer about their sordid little scams. 

And that reveals the corruption is not confined to the cabinet but spread through government like a cancer. 

Top of the dung heap is wealthy tourism minister Barbara Follett, who claimed more than £25,000 on expenses for security patrols at her home because she said she didn't feel safe in London.

The Telegraph reveals "street-wise" Follett, along with immigration minister Phil "nappies" Woolas, health minister Ben "changing rooms" Bradshaw and care services minister Phil "living in'' Hope, have all exploited the MPs' expenses system.

Questions are also raised about the expenses of two former ministers, Keith Vaz and Barry Gardiner. 

They come after the newspaper published suspect claims made by Brown and 12 members of his cabinet revealing that Brown paid his brother for “cleaning services” at his private flat.

Ministers are clinging to the hope that revelations over top Tories may take away some of the heat. 
But New Labour has the most MPs and created a whole gaggle of ministers and pay-roll-MPs with spurious fancy titles to keep them sweet, toe the line and stuff the commons with their cronies. They are the government. 

As the Telegraph's relentless crusade continues with its revelations, just one lowly Tory has been singled out so far:
• Greg Barker, the shadow climate change minister, made £320,000 after buying a flat with the help of taxpayers' money, and selling it after only 27 months. 

Meanwhile ...

• Phil Hope, the Care Services Minister, has spent more than £37,000 on refurbishing and furnishing a modest two-bedroom flat in south London.

• Ben Bradshaw, the Health Minister, switched the designation of his second home to a property he shares with his partner in west London. Mr Bradshaw now claims the entire interest bill on the property – despite owning only half the property.

• Phil Woolas, the Home Office Minister, claimed for items of women's clothing, tampons and nappies. 

• Barry Gardiner, the former environment minister, made a profit of almost £200,000 after buying a Westminster flat and claiming thousands of pounds to renovate the property. Mr Gardiner's main home is only eight miles from Parliament.
The Telegraph's investigation into MPs allowances from all parties should be applauded as a vital public service but at the centre is unsung hero, Heather Brooke, who started the ball rolling with the arduous task of using the Freedom of Information Act to try to find out the dodgy expenses. 

It was Brooke who fought a  long battle with the government ending in a high court victory which forced a very reluctant government and commons to finally act, while at the same time blanking out crucial cross-checking information needed to nail the second homes scam.

Along with Gurkha Avenger, Joanna Lumley, the Orange Party reckons both deserve Brown's Medal of Courage.

The Telegraph meanwhile is sure to have something juicy stored up for nice 'n sleazy Sunday. 

Will it be bad news for Balls? Or will the Telegraph's vindictive campaign against Tory-boy Osborne reach new lows? Taxpayers and the rest of Fleet Street's finest will just have to wait and see. In the meantime - make 'em sweat.

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