British Political Establishment living Large on the Taxpayer’s Dime; sound familiar
posted at 7:24 pm on June 2, 2009 by Keemo
Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, is to stand down from the Cabinet to focus her efforts on saving her Commons seat after bruising revelations over her parliamentary expenses.
A source close to Ms Smith said that she told Gordon Brown of her intention to resign two months ago amid a controversy over her second home claims. The source said that she had “hurt” by the controversy, which included the humiliation of having to refund taxpayers for two blue movies watched by her husband.
On a day when it appeared when the Prime Minister’s control of events was looking particularly shaky, it emerged that another minister was also heading for the exit. Tom Watson is standing down as Cabinet Office minister but will continue to advise the Prime Minister and help organize campaigns.
In addition, three other Labour MPs – David Chaytor, Beverley Hughes and Patricia Hewitt – announced that they would be leaving the Commons at the next election, adding their names to an increasingly long list.
Mr Chaytor is accused of claiming £13,000 in parliamentary expenses for a mortgage that had already been paid off. The MP for Bury North said that he was stepping aside because his priority in the coming months must be to explain his errors to investigators.
Ms Smith’s decision to jump before she was pushed – she had been widely expected to be moved from her post – paves the way for an even broader Cabinet shake-up in a reshuffle now expected on Monday.
Ms Smith is being investigated by the parliamentary Commissioner for Standards after claiming her main residence was her sister’s London home. That allows her to claim £116,000 on her Redditch home which she shares with her husband and children. Items claimed included a flat screen TV, scatter cushions, a £40 barbecue and even a bathplug. She was also forced to pay back £10 she claimed for the two adult films watched by her husband, Richard Timney, who is employed as her assistant.
There were mixed feelings in Ms Smith’s constituency. Peter Turner, 72, a lifelong Labour voter, said: “It’s very embarrassing for her, her husband’s actions were the most damaging. “I would consider voting for her but I think the tide is against her at the moment. The husband, the bath plug, it was all a bit petty wasn’t it – fancy claiming for a bath plug.”
Another constituent said: “If we hadn’t found out about this it would still be going on, that is the worrying thing. I’ll be glad to see Jacqui Smith go, most people around here are angry with her and I don’t think she has any hope of getting the votes. If any ordinary person had behaved like these politicians, they would have been arrested.”
Michael Martin, the Commons Speaker, will this afternoon announce that he is to stand down over the MPs’ expenses scandal.
Mr Martin is expected to inform MPs of his departure in a statement to the Commons at 2.30pm, just 24 hours after being humiliated in the chamber by cross-party calls for his resignation.
“I can confirm that the Speaker is making a statement this afternoon and that it is about himself,” his spokeswoman said. It is unclear whether he will resign immediately or stay on until the next election.
Meanwhile, American pundits are starting to make comparisons between the huge scandal of the British Commons Speaker to the recent troubles of American House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, though the scandals coming from entirely different circumstances.
Carol Gould who covers Brit politics for Pajamas Media, remarks:
Michael Martin, who engenders as much hatred and love as his American counterpart Ms. Pelosi, is being asked to resign or face expulsion: this would be the first removal of a speaker of the House of Commons in three hundred years, and it transpires that before 1709 seven speakers were beheaded!
Martin’s crimes are as follows: 1) blocking, over a period of years, the very revelations that the Daily Telegraph newspaper has now been exposing and 2) allegedly not informing the House that opposition MP Damian Green’s house was raided by police without a warrant. In the week of May 11 the speaker was accused by a former aide, John Stonborough, of reacting “extremely violently” as far back as 2003 at the suggestion that his decision to claim a second home allowance on his house in Glasgow while living in a “grace and favor” home in Westminster did not “look good.”
I was about to say the Brits are not tea party types, but as this goes to press we may see the first beheading in three hundred years.
Back in the States, Nancy Pelosi is not accused of any financial improprieties, such as mis-reporting a housing allowance (resigned Justice Minister Shahiid Malik), or having a husband who accessed internet porn on the taxpayer dime (Minister Jacqui Smith), or even listing horse manure as a valid reimbursement expense as one backbencher Labour MP is alleged to have done.
Rather, the Speaker of the House of the United States of America is accused of endangering National Security, by exposing tactics used by the Central Intelligence Agency to gain information on future terrorist attacks upon the US, and then deliberately covering up and lying about her knowledge of that intelligence.
Citizens of Great Britain have run out of tolerance for such behavior. Just how much tolerance Americans have left in the tank is yet to be seen. Congress is loaded up with scandals, with Miss Speaker up to her eye balls in lies and abuse of power. Let’s not forget to mention her living very high on the taxpayer’s dollar every time she flies her gas guzzling beast of an airplane from Washington DC to her home in California.
While on this subject… How about using taxpayer dollars for a night out on the town at the tune of some seventy thousand dollars. What about that Mr. President?