Comment of the day: Expenses abusing Lib Dem MPs in the top Tory targets – by Harry Phibbs on Conservative Home

“It is not often that we reproduce a whole article, but I read this blog yesterday and thought it did so good a job of exposing the hypocracry of the Lib Dems that I simply had to post this piece in full on our humble website. I hope that our friends at Conservative Home do not mind our usage of this. Harry Phibbs has written many more brilliant articles some of which can be found on Conservative by clicking here.” The Editor

I am sceptical as to whether the extraordinary opinion poll boost for the Lib Dems will be sustained. In the TV debate Nick Clegg tapped into the anti-politician, “plague on both your houses” mood. But surely he will get found out as he and has party finally come under scrutiny for their policies and conduct. For instance we have Nick Clegg’s his assertions that Lib Dem MPs were blameless over expenses. Of course they were in it up to their necks. But consider who the beneficiaries would be if the voters accepted Clegg’s assurances.

Several of the Lib Dem MPs who were culprits in the expenses scandal are in target Tory seats. They will be hoping that Nick Clegg’s protestations of virtue mean they will be able to escape a damning verdict from their constituents for their misconduct.

Three of the Tory targets are Lib Dem MPs in outer London seats – Susan Kramer in Richmond Park, Tom Brake in Carshalton and Wallington and Paul Burstow. They did not claim second home allowances. Then on the other hand this doesn’t qualify them as saints. Neither did the overwhelming majority of outer London MPs (inner London MPs aren’t entitled to them.) I think among the 19 Tory MPs there were only two who did – Andrew Rosindell and Theresa Villiers both of whom have constituencies right on the edge of London that probably are rather a long commute. By the way, before you feel too sorry for the London MPs not claiming, they get a London Costs Allowance (which Kramer, Brake and Burstow have all claimed) of £7,500 a year – in return for not claiming for a second home.

Furthermore the “saints” Kramer, Brake and Burstow are happy to raid the taxpayer’s pocket to make us pay for their boastful propaganda under the Communications Allowance. Burstow is the 20th highest spender among MPs of taxpayers money on propaganda. They were only following orders. Official Party guidance was to “be imaginative” in milking the taxpayer for as much free vanity publishing as possible.

Among our target seats from the Lib Dems are a couple of new ones without sitting MPs. There is also Hereford South where the siting Lib Dem MP is standing down so we can eliminate him from our enquiries.

What of the rest? A swing from the Lib Dems to the Conservatives would see the following ousted.

Lorely Burt. Solihull. She claimed £12,500 in Stamp Duty and fees when buying a flat in Westminster when first elected in 2005. There is nothing more exasperating than politicians passing taxes for the rest of us to pay and then charging it back on tax themselves. She also claimed £1,110 for blinds and £746 for wardrobes.

Sandra Gidley. Romsey and Southampton North.She used to live in a flat in Dolphin Square charging the rent to us on expenses. After a change of ownership at Dolphin Square she accepted a payment of £18,751 to surrender her tenancy. She kept the money and moved to another property where she also claimed the rent on expenses.

The Committee on Standards and Privileges said:

We conclude that Ms Gidley made a serious misjudgement when she decided to accept the principal offer of a lump sum without sharing it with the public purse and that in doing so she breached the Code of Conduct by putting her personal interest before the public interest.

Pathetically, her punishment was to hand over only a quarter of her ill gotten gains.

Martin Horwood. Cheltenham.  He claimed, according to the Telegraph, “large rent bills of around £1,500 and the rare bill for food. In 2008 submitted an £11.03 receipt for washing up liquid, £2.39 plasters and £1.79 for a tube of Savlon.” What sort of mentality of entitlement is it that leaves him to imagine we should pay for his Savlon?

Tim Farron. Westmorland and Lonsdale. According to the Telegraph he “claims £1,400 a month rent for flat near Westminster, plus utilities and council tax bills. In 2005, claimed £2,000 for furniture and appliances, and £300 for a Dyson vacuum.”

David Heath, Somerton and Frome. His own expenses are unremarkable. According to the Telegraph herents a flat near the Barbican in London, which he declares as his second home. Claimed £1,785 a month in rent in 2007-08, along with £1,170 in council tax and £550 on utilities but nothing else.” He supposedly supports transparency but proves an opponent in practice. Yet he also says of his colleagues: “I’m sick and tired of them all. The sooner we get rid of the fiddlers and the freeloaders, the better.” Indeed. The difference is the serious conservative offenders have been made to stand down while the Lib Dems ones are seeking to be voted back in on May 6.

Chris Huhne, Eastleigh. One of the Party’s most senior figures – and worst expenses offenders.

Jeremy Browne, Taunton Deane. According to the Daily Telegraph he “claimed £5,088 for roof repairs, £3,975 for replacement windows, £972 on a sofa and rugs and £650 on blinds.”

Adrian Sanders, Torbay. According to the Daily Telegraphhe “claimed rent on his London flat of up to £988 a month. Claimed for £55 vase from the Dartington Cider Press Centre in Totnes, Devon.”

Dan Rogerson, Cornwall North. According to the Daily Telegraph: “He bought London flat in 2005. Claimed £2,500 stamp duty, £1,572 legal fees, £340 survey; £1,108 furniture. In March 2008, changed mortgage to interest-only, allowing maximum benefits of ACA.”

Mark Hunter, Cheadle.  He was ordered to pay back £500 for using his Communications Allowance in being blatantly partisan. As well as charging £1,365 per month rent for a second home he also claimed for food.

In the TV debate last week, Nick Clegg said he urged voters to say “yes to something new and something different.” He said:

“I don’t think that any politician deserves your trust  deserves any credibility until everybody has come clean about what has gone wrong….We can’t turn round the corner on this until we’re honest about what went wrong in the first place.”

Yet he has not ditched his offending MPs. He hasn’t thrown them out. So that duty falls to the electorate.

Harry Phibbs

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