Socialist Worker

MPs unrepentant as they are told to hand back cash

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2174

The arrogance of MPs over the fortunes they have stolen in expenses seems to know no bounds.

Take Tory David Wilshire, who whines, “When you look at what I earn, it comes dangerously close to working out as the minimum wage.”

The minimum wage is set at £5.80 an hour, while MPs earn a salary of £65,000 a year.

Wilshire—whose only contribution to politics was to introduce the homophobic Section 28 law in 1988—announced he would resign at the next election after it emerged he paid £105,500 from his expenses to Moorlands Research Services, a company owned by him and his partner.

The company was not publicly registered and did not file accounts.

There has been much hue and cry over MPs being asked to pay back some of their expenses after an audit of their second home expenses claims by Sir Thomas Legg. But that review didn’t cover a whole range of the scams.

For instance, Wilshire’s payments to his company were made from his office and staffing allowances, which were not included in the inquiry.

The second home scam costs us about £11 million a year—that leaves another £99 million a year in expenses that haven’t been audited.

The reality is a swathe of MPs and ministers have committed fraud, including avoiding council tax and capital gains tax.

But not satisfied with not paying back the cash, some Labour MPs are trying to block a police investigation into expenses. The MPs claim it breaches the right of “parliamentary privilege”.

This is supposed to be about freedom to express views in parliament—but some MPs clearly think it just means the privilege to rake in as much cash as possible.

Politicians frequently say that those who have broken the law should be arrested and thrown in jail. They just don’t think it should apply to them.

Some argue that the expenses scandal breeds cynicism in politics.

In fact, finding out that our politicians are wedded to a system based on theft and corruption creates anger.

Just in case, to cut down on cynicism, let’s see some of the crooks in Westminster in jail.

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Article information

Tue 20 Oct 2009, 19:31 BST
Issue No. 2174
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