Is the worm turning?

Is the cure becoming as bad as the disease? Blogger Iain Dale, a Conservative but a very fair minded one has come out in sympathy with yummy mummy Julie Kirkbride (Moran may be another story).

Julie Kirkbride quit, at least in part, over her child minding arrangements. She wanted her brother to be a child minder rather than a stranger. Who wouldn’t? It didn’t cost the taxpayer a penny, and yet she’s been made out to look as if she has fleeced the taxpayer. No woman with small children in their right mind will look at a political career if things carry on like this.

He’s unlikely to be the last along these lines. Is there a whiff in the air of the Witches of Salem? If the expenses rules for MPs were almost undefined, the rules for getting rid of them are non-existent.. It’s bad enough for the parties to hold their separate star chambers; they have a vested interest in the bullet. Where’s the natural justice in that? Now Nick Clegg has this daft idea for Standards Commissioner Chris Kelly – he who is charged with coming up with a definitive new expenses regime – to rule on individual cases and then submit the “guilty” to recall by 5 % of the voters in the constituency, automatically triggering an immediate by-election. Kelly would surely be loathe to act in a semi-judicial capacity. And 5% recall would make MPs vulnerable to attack by a small group of Trots, fascists or monster raving looneys. Leave recall to the Californian dreamer and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I suspect it’ll take just one MP under pressure to fail to fall on his/her sword and bring a human rights case or go for judicial review. That could bring the whole tacky process to a grinding halt, before the Kelly report.. Meanwhile the Daily Telegraph is remorseless.

  • Reader

    “He’s unlikely to be the last along these lines.”
    Strangely enough, most of us manage our childcare arrangements within a far smaller budget than a couple with a combined salary of £130,000 and a lax expenses regime. Isn’t it reasonable to expect them to manage some essential costs from their salary? That’s what the rest of us do.

  • Dave

    Iain Dale is misguided to defend this crook. She and her husband deliberately perpetuated a fraud whereby they each designated one of their two homes as their second home to claim the Additional Costs Allowance, leaving this married couple with no main residence and leaving the taxpayer with paying their mortgages. She also defrauded the taxpayer of the cost of an extension to one of her homes by claiming that it was for her son (why the taxpayers, not the parents, should pay for this extension for her son is not explained). When her brother moved into the extension, she tried to explain this by claiming that he was sharing the room which was supposed to be occupied by her son. These crooks must be forced to repay all of the money that they have defrauded from the taxpayer. They should also be barred from ever holding any public office in the future.

  • The Raven

    A little revolution now and again, is never a bad thing. I think though that your use of the word “remorseless” is rather on-the-money.

    Surely the right shot across the bows has been fired. Surely something has been learnt from this. And if we get new blood – everywhere except here, because we refuse to ditch the old (and young) warhorses, then that can only be, at least, refreshing.

    But at a time when we need strong government, and not for a moment do I say we have it now, I can’t help but wonder, where does this “remorseless” blood-letting end…and what does it leave us with?

  • On my blog I highlighted the perils for women in politics. As for Julie Kirkbride, hers is a personal tragedy. Her husband, Andrew Mackay (C, Bracknell), had already announced he was stepping down. She was embroiled in his expenses claims, but also faced questions over family members, an extension etc. We must not forget her 8-year-old son in this saga – this little boy’s parents will be out of work after the next general election.

    Reforming parliament is one thing. But making the Commons a better place for women – particularly so they can have a work/life balance and so their kids don’t suffer – is vital. Ms Kirkbride and Ms Moran have both been victims of trying to have a work/life balance and the Commons’ outdated attitude to women.

    Being an MP is still “a job for a lady”, though it can’t be easy. Let’s hope that we do have more women MPs in the next parliament, though we need to bear in mind their home, family, and childcare responsibilities and maybe not judge them too harshly in future.

  • Reader

    The Wilted Rose: Ms Kirkbride and Ms Moran have both been victims of trying to have a work/life balance and the Commons’ outdated attitude to women.
    Mr Kirkbride could look after the child just as well as Ms Kirkbride’s brother could have. Or do you have an outdated attitude to men? And the Au pair can help. Ms Kirkbride could then stand as an independent candidate, and get at least 3 votes (including yours).
    Even if she fails to get elected, the child of a couple who earned 130,000 per year for five years while having two houses paid for by the taxpayer is not going to go hungry before they become an adult. And think of all that quality time!

  • Danny O’Connor

    What a wan**r,Nick Clegg should change his name to Dick.5% recall to sack your MP,any MP would be vulnerable whether they done anything wrong or not.
    In a Westminster election you need 5% to get back your deposit,probably 1600 votes or so in this area.5% of the electorate probably 2900 ish,I dare say you could have bye elections ad nauseum.

    If people have been playing the violin with public money,dont let them simply resign or wait till the next election so that they can get their re-settlement allowance- 6months pay tax free-sack them now and get the police in to investigate,lock them up,anyone doing this is a thief and thiefs should go to jail.

  • Rory Carr

    Halfway through post 4 above I was waiting for The Wilted Rose to produce an onion from her pocket and begin to peel it lest her words alone were not sufficiently lachrymose for the reader.

    It worked for me anyway. I laughed until I cried.

  • daisy

    “No woman with small children in their right mind will look at a political career if things carry on like this”

    Oh I certainly would if it gave me a salary of £60k+, as well as an expenses allowance. This is a red herring.

    On Have I got news for you on Friday night they played an excerpt from a radio show in 2007 (I think) where the presenter queried her on the double claiming of 2nd home allowance. Her response was to hang up.

  • Rory Carr

    Actually there is no reason to concern ourselves that women with child care responsibilities will somehow be more disadvantaged as a result of Kirkbride being obliged to step down because of being caught in financial shenanigans. The main reason is that we simply do not believe a word of her caterwauling about poor little Tarquin (or whatever)and his dependence upon her brother to look after him.

    The woman, like her husband, has shown herself to be an accomplished liar when it comes to obtaining pecuniary advantage to which she was not properly entitled and there is absolutely no reason to attach any credibility to the implausible brother story. Tory boy as childminder, like, duh! As if!

    So the poor little fellow’s parents will be unemployed will they? Well that’s all right then isn’t it after all Tories like Kirkbride have been saying for years that unemployment and other benefits are more than adequate. Besides which there are yet plenty of jobs available with cleaning agencies and the like at the minimum wage (which the Tories have complained is much too generous). If they take up this line of work they’ll surely be be rolling in it.

    The real hardship will fall upon the “ailing”, perma-tanned Margaret Moran in Luton who may find that she is no longer able to afford her ultrabronze sessions unless she auditions well as she would be ideal as a new landlady for The Vic in Eastenders.