It certainly seems that way….
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has claimed more than £116,000 in Commons expenses for a ‘second home’ while effectively lodging with her sister.
Ms Smith claims the maximum parliamentary second-home allowance, currently a tax-free £24,006 a year, on the detached house in her West Midlands constituency, where her husband and two young children live and which she bought for £300,000 five years ago.
Click through to read the article and you’ll see that this stinks to high heaven. Guido immediately detects the loophole she’s driving a coach & horses through:
Her SpAd claims “It has been cleared by the Commons Fees Office.” The Fees Office don’t clear anything, they take an “Honourable” Member’s word. The property records indicate sole-ownership of the property she claims is her “main home” is in her sister’s name. If she is in fact merely lodging with her sister, who is pocketing the taxpayer’s £500-a-week tax free? Can we have a Home Secretary who steals £116,000 from the taxpayers?
Handily, Guido also reminds us that her husband is paid £40k as her assistant, to write supportive letters to local rags.
UPDATE : Don’t forget her husband is also on the payroll (£40,000) doing “research” – when he isn’t sending letters supporting her to the local paper – without mentioning his financial and marital relationship.
Now, you’d think this sort of thing, if proven, would lead to apologies and resignation. Morus at PoliticalBetting.com has a sophisticated and plausible explaination for the theory that Smith will be able to brazen this out, principally on the basis that (a) she stands no chance of retaining her seat at the next election, (b) she doesn’t want to succeed Brown as party leader and (c) no other fucker wants the poisoned chalice that is ID cards, 42 days, anti-terrorism etc.
As has been noted, she stands almost no chance in the eyes of PB.com’s commentators of holding onto her Redditch seat at the next election. Luke Akehurst was adamant that the Labour Party’s rules against Chicken Running (changing seat without boundary changes, to avoid being ousted by voters) made the suggestion on this site last week that she was being lined up for a safe seat in Wolverhampton impossible.
For me, this has always been the reason that Brown wanted her in the job. Unless she moves seats, or goes to the House of Lords, Jacqui Smith has no political future to lose. She is able to take on a politically-toxic agenda of ID cards, 42 days, prison populations, and terror legislation, knowing full well that it has no impact on the likelihood of her losing her seat. She is able to give the PM absolute loyalty, and he has no concerns that she will be squeamish in implementing his agenda, because unlike many of her Cabinet colleagues, she will not be angling for the leadership after Gordon Brown steps down.
Were she to be forced out, I’m not sure who would take the job under Gordon Brown. Charles Clarke and John Reid would surely not be invited back. John Prescott would not be interested, I suspect. Alan Johnson, Ed Balls, Ed Miliband, Hazel Blears and Hilary Benn all have hopes for the leadership that a promotion to this poisoned chalice might derail. Harriet Harman doesn’t need it, and David Miliband and James Purnell would apparently have quit rather than been moved from their current roles. Jack Straw has done it, Darling is wanted at the Exchequer, and Lord Mandelson would be mad to want it. The only three I could imagine accepting it are John Hutton, Sean Woodward, and Geoff Hoon, but I find it difficult to believe that even loyal Brownites would execute the job as faithfully to the PM’s wishes as the present incumbent.
This is so depressing it just isn’t true – and it leads nicely into today’s missive from B&D:
Anyone around 30 and older will of course remember that when Black Wednesday in 1992 hit, it was game over for the Tories barely months after they had won the general election. They’d lost their reputation for handling the economy and everything they did thereafter was slammed by the media. Sleaze, affairs, cash for questions all these things were nails in the coffin.
But what’s happening now? All the corruption and unabashed arrogance and misdeeds are far from fatal for Labour politicians. The national debt has sky rocketed to unprecedented proportions and the economy has been so badly mismanaged that our current predicament can largely be traced back to specific policies of Gordon Brown whilst Chancellor.
Instead of this leading to a complete breakdown in the government and a general election, it has almost galvanised them.
And the people? Not interested. If anything, they cower away in the banality of their lives in surveillance, UK PLC Britain, somehow conning themselves that all of this is normal, and Britain is supposed to be this wrecked – and furthermore, Brown is doing a good job of holding up the country after the bankers have ruined it. Self-delusion and rampant over-simplicity extraordinaire.
And the powers-that-be wonder why the pursuit of alcoholic and chemical insensibility gain ever greater allure – and urgency – amongst the little people.