UKC

Maria Miller

New Topic
This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
 Yanis Nayu 04 Apr 2014
Can't believe we haven't had a thread about this breathtakingly arrogant cnut.

Why do we put up with it? Fraudulently robbing the taxpayer of £45k (down to £6k after her mates had interjected). 30 second arrogant apology and all is well. Unbe-f*cking-leivable.
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

Totally agee. And there are allegations of threats against a Telegraph writer I believe.
 JamButty 04 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

don't know whats worse, her attitude to it all, or the bloody committee who let her off.
Hopefully her head and others will still roll
 lfenbo 05 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

were all in it together remember lol. On a serious note though our honourable MPs don't live in our world and are not very honourable when it comes to there own lives. IMHO
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

Dave's Big Society is no more than society for the big.
 Fraser 05 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

Do you speak like that in front of your daughter?
OP Yanis Nayu 05 Apr 2014
In reply to Fraser:

I'm not sure what your point is. Is swearing worse than someone comfortably well-off screwing the taxpayer, while working for a government intent on screwing those with the least, all while saying "we're all in this together"?

If my daughter swears, but isn't a fraudulent hypocrite, I'll be relatively happy. She's doing ok so far.

Do you have a view on what Maria Miller has done?
 Offwidth 05 Apr 2014
In reply to Fraser:
Isnt 'cnut' knowing modern slang for someone refusing to accept the rising tide is about to drown them?

All this posturing about how they realise they let the public down and still they defend blatant abuse of the system, as of course, something even worse that she was accused of hasn't happened. I'd add to that PMQ punch and judy this week was up with the worst behaviour Ive seen. We discover hedge fund advisors who went to school with ministers immediately ignored their gentlemans agreement and helped their companies pocket a huge profit at tax payers expense, with the RM sell off. Millipede seem more panicked about his image than policy. The next two lesser parties have a televised faux argument about Europe to reassure thier respective fan bases. The world will explode if Scots vote for independance according to our government and the nationalists metaphorically bare their arses in response. What has happened to adult debate? I say living through this without swearing shows almost a lack of human spirit.
Post edited at 11:14
 Greenbanks 05 Apr 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

Excellent post on a matter which simply evokes quiet desperation amongst many.
What is beyond belief is that fingers are all too easily pointed, in these lands, towards our European neighbours (and further afield) regarding this kind of behaviour.
Jim C 05 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

> I'm not sure what your point is. Is swearing worse than someone comfortably well-off screwing the taxpayer, while working for a government intent on screwing those with the least, all while saying "we're all in this together"?

> If my daughter swears, but isn't a fraudulent hypocrite, I'll be relatively happy. She's doing ok so far.

> Do you have a view on what Maria Miller has done?

Well I expect that this weeks Sunday papers will be the next hurdle for her, if she can brass neck through that , she will survive( for now) , but for now they are still after her, and I hope they get her.

Personally, I cannot see how they can claim she has been independently scrutinised and disciplined (as this was by other politicians .)
It should be a police investigation,, it should be the same law for everyone.

How she can get away with remortgaging the property, doubling the repayments for the taxpayer, and then when caught have the 44k repayment watering down ,mindicates to me that there are perhaps many more politicians that have bent that same rule, and I think every MP in a similar position should now be subject to a truly Independent scrutiny,starting with cabinet ministers. NO cosy deals amongst themselves.

Will it happen, of course not, these are British government politicians , corrupt to their core in my view.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/conservative-mps-expenses/10746022/Maria-Mil...
 neilh 05 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

Considering journalists were alledgedly doorstepping her father who had just come out of hospital from a serious operation, maybe there is more to this than meets the eye.
In reply to Offwidth:

> Isnt 'cnut' knowing modern slang for someone refusing to accept the rising tide is about to drown them?

> All this posturing about how they realise they let the public down and still they defend blatant abuse of the system, as of course, something even worse that she was accused of hasn't happened. I'd add to that PMQ punch and judy this week was up with the worst behaviour Ive seen. We discover hedge fund advisors who went to school with ministers immediately ignored their gentlemans agreement and helped their companies pocket a huge profit at tax payers expense, with the RM sell off. Millipede seem more panicked about his image than policy. The next two lesser parties have a televised faux argument about Europe to reassure thier respective fan bases. The world will explode if Scots vote for independance according to our government and the nationalists metaphorically bare their arses in response. What has happened to adult debate? I say living through this without swearing shows almost a lack of human spirit.

Splendid post

Jim C 05 Apr 2014
In reply to neilh:

> Considering journalists were alledgedly doorstepping her father who had just come out of hospital from a serious operation, maybe there is more to this than meets the eye.

Either way, even if the papers are out to get her ( and to do that they need evidence)
as the Government have introduced a welfare benefits cap , a similar expenses cap should be introduced, an overall cap, as well as individual MP's 'expenses' cap too. ( and totally outlaw ' employing family members to 'work ' for them)
Who are the real benefit scroungers , I for one have no doubts.

An MPs earnings and expenses cap will at least give us some control over them.
It is not as if they will be out on the streets if it is found to be too strict .
( as they don't care if that happens at the bottom end)

Caps has been a question for a while, introduced on welfare with fanfare, strangely nothing done on their own excesses.
They have set the example , now what is good for the poor goose, is good for the rich gander.

http://blogs.channel4.com/gurublog/should-mps-face-the-same-caps-as-those-on-housing-benefit/395

"The MPs’ expenses scandal already seems like a dim and distant memory for many people, and MPs on all sides do not want it to come back to haunt them.

But if the government wants to take on the idea of what people can expect the state to provide, it is probably only a matter of time before somebody points the spotlight on the people making the rules for the rest of us again, and asks:

“Why should they get any more than us?”

The time is now, and Mrs Miller should take full credit for bringing it to a head.
A good campaigning issue for the next election?
Be sure that we all should raise it with our MP on the doorstep or surgery .
( you will not see them for dust)
 Jim Hamilton 05 Apr 2014
In reply to neilh:

> Considering journalists were alledgedly doorstepping her father who had just come out of hospital from a serious operation, maybe there is more to this than meets the eye.

According to the press reports her father was happy to talk to a reporter, even joking with her in a 10 min interview.

From the reporting so far, it seems fairly clear-cut that Maria Miller defrauded the tax-payer for a lot more than the £5,800 "settlement".

 neilh 05 Apr 2014
In reply to Jim C:
There have been too many witch hunts by the press ( for their own commercial reasons) for me to get annoyed about the affair.

We will just end up with the poor politicians we deserve ,as all the good one on both sides of the political spectrum ones will just say " F..k it, I do not need this c..p and do something else". After all you can earn far more money not being a politician.

My view is that MP's should be well funded for research purposes, have a good secretarial team to supporttheir job well and be well paid. Without that - as a democracy - we are stuffed.
Post edited at 17:21
 Mick Ward 05 Apr 2014
In reply to Jim C:

> It should be a police investigation,, it should be the same law for everyone.

Totally agree, but...


> How she can get away with remortgaging the property, doubling the repayments for the taxpayer, and then...

Seem to remember young Pete Mandelson, now Baron Mandelson < doffs cap > with a mortgage application which was alleged to have fictional similarities with a Jeffrey Archer novel, i.e. unbelievable. Mortgage fraud (which attracted its first jail sentence back in 1961)? Nope. Nowt happened.

'The very rich are not like you and I.' That's what Scott Fitzgerald wrote. He wasn't joking! Should have wandered down Westminster way to have his eyes opened further.

Mick


Jim C 05 Apr 2014
In reply to Mick Ward:
I'm not making a party distinction, and I too remember well Mandy getting embroiled in a dodgy mortgage fiasco, and as you say, nothing done ( apart from damage to the image of all the political classes who almost all joined Blair with their noses the trough - Tony Blair and his even greedier wife possibly being the least subtle with their property dealings, and 'freebies' )

Meanwhile, in the light of 'threats ' from her spokesperson who were caught on tape trying to frighten off newspapers from any more questioning on her expenses, Mrs Miller should now remove herself from any further dealings with Press regulation.
In short, she should resign, her reputation is tarnished, further involvement is untenable.
( Particularly as the PM supports her and wants to sweep it all under the carpet, all the MORE reason to shine some fresh air on this murky world she and others inhabit)
Jim C 05 Apr 2014
In reply to neilh:
> There have been too many witch hunts by the press ( for their own commercial reasons) for me to get annoyed about the affair.

If there is no evidence of wrongdoing , I agree, however, in this case, Having read the press reports, and the Standard Committee's report , the evidence given ( or dragged) from Mrs Miller, I think the press are justified in running the stories in this case .

> My view is that MP's should be well funded for research purposes, have a good secretarial team to supporttheir job well and be well paid. Without that - as a democracy - we are stuffed.

I agree with that too, with the rider, that there MUST be a cap on the costs, the secretarial team / researcher jobs must be employed only after the jobs being fairly advertised, all candidates being interviewed selected on merit by an independent body, and the MP's making only the final selection from the short listed candidates.
(No more appointing wives, sons, daughters, cousins , other MP's children, and awarding them bonuses, at the taxpayers expense. )

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/10306675/MPs-expenses-surpass-pre-scandal-le...
Post edited at 20:50
Ian Black 05 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

I work for the public sector and I'm entitled to claim travelling expenses, but if I claimed a penny more than my entitlement I would be charged under the code of conduct and probably be dismissed. I hate the double standards, she's a public servant and should be disciplined in exactly the same way!!
 Fraser 05 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

> Do you have a view on what Maria Miller has done?

Not really, but I suspect if I read more truth on the matter I could form one fairly quickly. As it stands, I've only heard a few lines on the news and don't consider them sufficient to form an opinion. I didn't hear her very brief apology (or was it an excuse/justification?) nor really any of the background so don't yet feel qualified to venture an opinion. I just think the presentation of your case was weakened by the manner in which it was delivered. Don't get me wrong, I swear as much as the next person, but I do think that on a public forum where kids may well be reading these threads, it's unnecessary.

To add my tuppence worth though: in a theoretical case, I'd say if someone can get away with abusing a system, the system needs to be changed. Okay, by the sounds of it, a moral wrong has indeed been done but if something breaches the letter of the law rather than just the spirit, that's quite another matter.

Jim C 05 Apr 2014
In reply to neilh:
You might want to check if your own MP is on this list, then check the qualifications of their family members to ensure quality.
At the moment only the MP's themselves are the sole arbiter of the quality of staff paid for by public money.

Do you not Agree that ALL public servants should all go through a transparent , and Independent job application, and selection process?
(Also funny how so many are paid at a pound under the next thousand,)

http://order-order.com/2013/09/13/list-of-shame-every-mp-who-employs-a-family-member/
Post edited at 21:21
Jim C 05 Apr 2014
In reply to Fraser:

> Not really, but I suspect if I read more truth on the matter I could form one fairly quickly. As it stands, I've only heard a few lines on the news ....

Links to the standard committee evidence / conclusions, have been posted on this very thread, ( you may have missed it) so easy to read them and form an opinion.

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/standards/inquiries/parli...
 Rob Naylor 06 Apr 2014
In reply to neilh:
> My view is that MP's should be well funded for research purposes, have a good secretarial team to supporttheir job well and be well paid. Without that - as a democracy - we are stuffed.


I think they *are* pretty well paid. I often see posts on here saying how "badly" paid MPs are....but badly paid compared with whom? Lawyers at the top end of the profession; CEOs who sit on the remuneration committees of each others' boards, some bankers, etc, maybe.

But their current salaries put them in the top 5% of earners. Given that most MPS are "lobby fodder" with little *true* responsibility and that those who serve on Committees and have Ministerial roles get additional emoluments, I really have to wonder *why* so many people think they're not well paid.

There is absolutely no shortage of applicants....many of them (eg lawyers) from professions that are not that badly paid.

You *can* earn more money not being a politican, for sure, but 95% of us don't.

And most of us, if we "stretched" (and even broke) the expenses rules of our organisations the way many MPs have, would be out on our ears. One or two, true, have been put through the courts, but the number actually prosecuted seems small compared to the scale of the problem.
Post edited at 01:23
 Coel Hellier 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Rob Naylor:

> I often see posts on here saying how "badly" paid MPs are....but badly paid compared with whom?
> Lawyers at the top end of the profession; CEOs who sit on the remuneration committees
> of each others' boards, some bankers, etc, maybe.

They are paid less than any GP or hospital consultant, much less than any judge, less than most decent lawyers or accountants with any degree of experience, less than quite a few school headmasters, less than many university professors.

I'd regard another 20k for them as quite reasonable. Note that they have among the worst job security of any profession! (They do have a very generous pension deal though.)



 Mick Ward 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> They are paid less than any GP...

Maybe so but should GPs be paid what they're paid? I seem to remember that the guy who negotiated their big pay rise said afterwards that he was amazed the government went for it!

What do GPs actually do? Most of the time, they simply seem to refer you to someone else - a bit like a Homebuyer's survey when buying property. They had computer programmes to do this back in 1972!

My GP told me, "Men don't die of prostrate cancer," and couldn't be arsed(!) to examine me. Hmm... interesting. What's she worth - a lawsuit for negligence?


> I'd regard another 20k for them as quite reasonable. Note that they have among the worst job security of any profession! (They do have a very generous pension deal though.)

Is politics a profession? If so, wouldn't it be the management of government - pretty senior management surely? And the managerial skills/experience/expertise of MPs and above? Can't see there is much. Re Maria Miller, we have a prime minister who can't even seem to get basic facts right. Not exactly reassuring.

I'm all in favour of paying people well - if they deliver. But the contemporary 'profession' of politics is simply the pursuit of power - Disraeli's greasy pole, inherited from the Romans and before. No competence required. And that's all fine and dandy - until the barbarians arrive. History assures us that, sooner or later, they always do.

Mick
OP Yanis Nayu 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Is being an MP a more difficult than being a social worker, for example?
 Offwidth 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

I'd say it is if both jobs are done properly and fairly. Trouble is Social Workers get dumped on by their mangement so often that work loads and stress levels are commonly through the roof when often the opposite applies to MP's. Its been clear for a long time that the press, judiciary, select committes, electing public etc are not enough to guarantee reasonable behaviour for MP's. I think we need strict new rules on all aspects of conduct, the Civil Service needs an internal affairs section similar to the police to ensure it works and we need to pay and resource MPs a lot more at that point. Paying more now is throwing good money after bad. The points I complained of are matters of record, not political position. Behaviour is terrible and sometimes corrupt and even within a spotlight they keep circling the waggons when another bad apple is caught.
In reply to Offwidth:

> All this posturing about how they realise they let the public down and still they defend blatant abuse of the system, as of course, something even worse that she was accused of hasn't happened. I'd add to that PMQ punch and judy this week was up with the worst behaviour Ive seen. We discover hedge fund advisors who went to school with ministers immediately ignored their gentlemans agreement and helped their companies pocket a huge profit at tax payers expense, with the RM sell off. Millipede seem more panicked about his image than policy. The next two lesser parties have a televised faux argument about Europe to reassure thier respective fan bases. The world will explode if Scots vote for independance according to our government and the nationalists metaphorically bare their arses in response. What has happened to adult debate? I say living through this without swearing shows almost a lack of human spirit.

Round of applause.
 Coel Hellier 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

> Is being an MP a more difficult than being a social worker, for example?

The MP's job is among the most responsible there is. If they screw up they can really screw the country up, how they (collectively) vote really does matter to us all. To mention one example: the close vote on whether to go to war in Iraq, which the "yes" side won only narrowly. If a social worker screws up then it can be very bad for some individuals and families, but it matters little beyond that. It's a feature of the system that the greater the responsibility the greater the pay.
 Duncan Bourne 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> The MP's job is among the most responsible there is. If they screw up they can really screw the country up, how they (collectively) vote really does matter to us all. To mention one example: the close vote on whether to go to war in Iraq, which the "yes" side won only narrowly. If a social worker screws up then it can be very bad for some individuals and families, but it matters little beyond that. It's a feature of the system that the greater the responsibility the greater the pay.

I would have to disagree there. True they bear responsibility for the country but aside from the possibility of being voted out of office (which less of a problem for them than it seems as no politician relies on the voting public for his or her main finance) there is very little come back on them, no sanctions to speak of, they don't even resign from office like they used to.
Or to put it another way a social worker with a large case load, expected to spot every case of child abuse or vunerable person, who faces constant threat of disciplinary action for failure to meet targets, who works for a fraction of an MP's salary and who is often under mined by the organisation they work for is subject to a great deal of stress.
An MP can effectively ignore cases that come to them or pass them on to a secretary (for standard reply, an MP has no targets to meet, they just have to show that they are representing their constituents and that can be done by simply passing the blame on or demanding things be done (but not actually having to make their demands feasible). As long as they toe the party line they will not be disciplined for failure. At the end of the day most politicians are responsible for nothing, they are, if anything, voice pieces for the population, they took us into Iraq but not a single one pulled a trigger or directly caused the death of a single person. Indirectly probably yes but few people lose sleep over what they did indirectly.

OP Yanis Nayu 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Coel Hellier:

You've not heard of the whip?
 Offwidth 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Coel Hellier:
Thats the ideal, not the reality, an individual incompetant MP has little influence and you have just given a perfect example of how stupid they can be collectively (and I hope may one day still be regarded as a crime, as the case files were cooked... yet just too obviously for properly functioning MPs to all buy it). Most Social Workers have individual responsibility to get it right and often with poor support in terribly difficult situations these days ( ideal and reality reversed).
Post edited at 13:38
Jim C 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

> You've not heard of the whip?

I thought that was just the Tories
Jim C 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> They are paid less than any GP or hospital consultant,
who needs qualifications that takes many years to obtain to show competence.

much less than any judge,
who needs qualifications that takes many years to obtain to show competence

less than most decent lawyers
who needs qualifications that takes many years to obtain to show competence

or accountants with any degree of experience,
who needs qualifications that takes many years to obtain to show competence

less than quite a few school headmasters,
who needs qualifications that takes many years to obtain to show competence

less than many university professors.
who needs qualifications that takes many years to obtain to show competence.

MP's need no formal qualifications.
 Cog 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Mick Ward:


> What do GPs actually do? Most of the time, they simply seem to refer you to someone else - a bit like a Homebuyer's survey when buying property. They had computer programmes to do this back in 1972!

1972?

Are you sure?
Jim C 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Cog:


> 1972?
> Are you sure?

It was punch cards in the computer room in my work back then .
( it was the early 80's before the Desk top PC arrived in the office , and they took up most of the desk)



 Postmanpat 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

Has Miller actually come up with any explanation for or defence of her initial or subsequent actions?
KevinD 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Postmanpat:

Dont believe so. Even her "apology" to the house of commons is rather impressive as non apologies go.

‘I wish to make a personal statement in relation to today’s report. The report resulted from an allegation made by the member for Bassetlaw. The committee has dismissed his allegation. The committee has recommended that I apologise to the House for my attitude to the Commissioner’s inquiries, and I of course unreservedly apologise. I fully accept the recommendations of the Committee, and thank them for bringing this matter to an end.’





http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2014/04/therell-be-no-promotion-for-maria-miller-after-her-...
 Cog 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Jim C:

First computer I used was in 1979. You had to type in a program before you could type any data in.

I was working in a lab with about 40 marine scientists and they had one computer that they shared.
 Coel Hellier 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Jim C:

> MP's need no formal qualifications.

Formal qualifications are only one aspect that goes into what people are paid. Anyone with the ability to get elected as an MP (which takes a lot of social and people skills) could do well in a lot of professions.


 Coel Hellier 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

> You've not heard of the whip?

Of course I have. Now, do you want the salary of MPs to be set at a level that is attractive to capable people (or at least, not a big disincentive to them), or would you prefer mere journeymen?
OP Yanis Nayu 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Coel Hellier:

I want honest people to do it. I think if anything they are currently overpaid for what they do.

However, what you or I think about their pay is irrelevant. They shouldn't be stealing from the taxpayer whether or not they are underpaid, and the method of dealing with expenses fraud should be the same for all public sector workers.
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Formal qualifications are only one aspect that goes into what people are paid. Anyone with the ability to get elected as an MP (which takes a lot of social and people skills) could do well in a lot of professions.

What social and people skills? Most are simply apparatchiks, been in the party since Uni or earlier, networked with the party great and good, if they show promise they're parachuted into a safe seat where a donkey would be elected if had the right colour rosette pinned on it. With a few notable exceptions most MPs would just about make junior or middle managers.
 Coel Hellier 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Ridge:


> What social and people skills?

Persuading constituencies to select you and persuading party hierarchies to want you, and persuading voters to vote for you.

> With a few notable exceptions most MPs would just about make junior or middle managers.

If true its an argument for encouraging better people to become MPs. Pay would be one part of that. As above, what goes on in Parliament does actually matter.
 Mick Ward 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Cog:

> 1972?

> Are you sure?

I was doing Psychology then. A guy called Chris Evans came along to talk to us. He'd been a journalist before getting into Psychology himself, some years earlier. He was very interested in computers. (Some years later, he wrote a very popular book called 'The Mighty Micro', if I remember correctly.) He mentioned that computer programmes had been developed and used to duplicate GP visits with, seemingly, remarkable success. I asked him about delicate issues and he said that it seemed many people would prefer to tell a computer rather than their GP - which surprised me (different times).

Chris wasn't dogmatic about things; he wasn't saying, "Get rid of GPs." He was just pursuing an interest. Nevertheless, way back then, the ghost was already stirring in the machine. And, one day, he will climb out of it.

In the 1980s, while (briefly!) involved with competency analysis (yuk!) I came across David Mc Clelland's far more worthy (in my view) earlier work investigating medical scores in the US with (any) measure of medical success in the real world. No correlation that he could find. He carried on with other 'professional' groups. Again no correlation that he could find. And then, I gather, one of the aforesaid groups felt threatened and did threaten. He wasn't a fighter. He stopped the research. Competency analysis must have seemed far less threatening. (Caveat: all this is from what I remember.)

Professionals may bring a great deal to the party; or they may bring remarkably little.

Mick
Jim C 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Coel Hellier:
Alas Coal, where I live we get an MP that is Labour no matter the qualification of any other member (Labour for the last 50 consecutive years,)
so I can't agree at all, in our area you need zero social and people skills as the Constituency is hardened labourites. Some have been passable MP's many less so.

Social skills in a marginal area can be a help, but I am not that bothered if my MP is nice , pleasant or whatever, I want some kind of minimum qualification to stand as an MP.
( other than being qualified on expenses dodges which I have to accept they are exceptionally gifted people)

I mean, it is not enough that they can read and write. I think that there must be a test that they should have to pass to stand as an MP.
(Even to drive a car you have to sit a theory test as well as a practical, why not a test for MP's too?)

They say around here that you could put a Red coat on a donkey, and they will get elected
( and I can tell you they have , and they were)

Although to be fair, things have improved :-

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/shortcuts/2014/mar/23/worst-behaved-mps-in-history
Post edited at 17:58
 Mick Ward 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Cog:

Apologies to all. Didn't mean to digress so much from MM related issues.

Mick
 Duncan Bourne 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Persuading constituencies to select you and persuading party hierarchies to want you, and persuading voters to vote for you.

Lying in other words

> If true its an argument for encouraging better people to become MPs. Pay would be one part of that. As above, what goes on in Parliament does actually matter.

Pay is an interesting one. It has always been my understanding that MP's were, supposedly, ideally, driven by a desire to serve the community, though there is also the alternative theory that they were driven by a desire for power and to make business connections. The question remains does giving people a substantial amount of money to be an MP encourage the right sort of candidate or not? Do you need money to be an MP?
Well yes if you want to be elected. You need money for the deposit and money to run an election campaign, though chances are, unless you are an independent, there will be a party machine to finance that. Other than that it is a modest amount of expenses for day to day stuff. You will however need a good deal of free time to attend meetings, civic functions, answer letters etc. etc. So the position of MP is really only going to be feasible to someone who is unemployed, retired or in work that allows them the freedom to do the MP's work.
It might be argued that paying a substantial amount to being an MP would a) encourage career politics divorced from the needs of the people (some might say we already have this). b) discourage MPs from standing down and accepting their mistakes (some might say this already occurs)
However paying MPs a reasonable salary could a) discourage corruption b) encourage the lower paid to seek election and thus increase the diversity of parliament (though not necessarily).

To my mind what you get paid is based on four things - 1. responsibility, 2. skills & knowledge, 3. power and 4. marketability
An MP (unless they are at the heart of government) has little of 1. they may take credit for getting a pedestrian crossing put in by a school or getting the streets swept but they are not responsible for actually doing it. They may vote for a bedroom tax that visits hardship on the less well off but will not be expected to personally instigate it. They may vote for a war but will not be held to account for the outcome (unless they are at the heart of government and as we have seen they are not taken to account). I do concede that the cabinet do hold very responsible positions and deserve to be paid well for it. But old Joe Bloggs MP for Chipping Hampton carries little personal responsibility.
2. an MP requires no skills or knowledge other than the ability to get him or herself elected. That may certainly require networking skills but nothing beyond that of your average sales person. 3. Power? Well that is being in the position to give yourself a pay rise so they may have that (as a group). 4. Marketability would also be an essential skill but you don't get paid more to be marketable, you get paid more because you are marketable (ie footballers, Media stars, etc.)
 Duncan Bourne 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Jim C:


> I mean, it is not enough that they can read and write. I think that there must be a test that they should have to pass to stand as an MP.

While I appreciate what you are saying (re: quality of MPs) have to disagree with you there. Anyone one of us (barring those who are barred) can become an MP, we can if we choose and are motivated enough stand for election in support of issues of our choosing. Government for the people by the people is the ideal.



> They say around here that you could put a Red coat on a donkey, and they will get elected

I hear you there. But why? Partially I guess it is because people are set in their ways but also (if it is anything like here) they hate the opposition more than the idiots they vote for and simply vote for who ever will give them the least bad deal.
I think it is less about making it harder to become an MP but more about encouraging and making it worth while for people with a sense of community and a passion to help the areas they live in to become MPs and oust the idiots
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

> While I appreciate what you are saying (re: quality of MPs) have to disagree with you there. Anyone one of us (barring those who are barred) can become an MP, we can if we choose and are motivated enough stand for election in support of issues of our choosing. Government for the people by the people is the ideal.

It may be the ideal, but there is almost no opportunity for these motivated people to enter government. Increasing pay just means the taxpayer pays more for the same party hacks.


 Rob Naylor 06 Apr 2014
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> They are paid less than any GP or hospital consultant, much less than any judge, less than most decent lawyers or accountants with any degree of experience, less than quite a few school headmasters, less than many university professors.

> I'd regard another 20k for them as quite reasonable. Note that they have among the worst job security of any profession! (They do have a very generous pension deal though.)

I'd disagree about the "lawyers or accountants"....specific subsections of them, maybe, but I know anumber of good lawyers and decent accountants with good experience who are on less than £65k. I think there's been a tendency over the last decade or so to elevate salaries of certain categories of "professionals" so much more than those of most people that the gap's grown indefensible. Why should MPs be part of this upward spiral "at the top"?

MPs are still paid more than 95% of the population. IMO, putting them into the 98th or 99th percentile would remove them even further from the realities of life that many of their consituents have to put up with. Their salaries should not be too hugely in excess o fthe majority of people they are supposed to serve. Nearly 3 x average wage is enough, IMO.

I feel their current incomes are easily sufficient for those who are essentially lobby fodder and subject to the discipline of the whips. Those who hold responsible positions already have increased salaries. For example, a (say, Labour) Chair of a Select Committee in the current government gets a top-up of £15,000 on his or her base salary, while a (say, Consevative) Cabinet Minister is on £135,000.
 Rob Naylor 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Cog:

> First computer I used was in 1979. You had to type in a program before you could type any data in.

> I was working in a lab with about 40 marine scientists and they had one computer that they shared.

First one I used was at school, in 1971. We wrote our programmes on gridded "JCL" paper, then sent them away to Huddersfield Poly, where our sheets were turned into punch cards and then loaded onto their mainframe. About a week later we'd get a stack of cards back, with a rubber band round them and a sheet saying "syntax error on card 37". Repeat for a whole term, with slightly different error messages.

The first one I used in marine science was an HP2109E in 1979. I had it to myself. It ran the programme in memory once you'd booted it with the IBL on paper tape. Magic!
In reply to Ridge:

> What social and people skills?

The ones that enabled them to have....

> networked with the party great and good

Ta-daaah!
In reply to Rob Naylor:
> (In reply to Cog)

> First one I used was at school, in 1971. We wrote our programmes on gridded "JCL" paper, then sent them away to Huddersfield Poly, where our sheets were turned into punch cards and then loaded onto their mainframe. About a week later we'd get a stack of cards back, with a rubber band round them and a sheet saying "syntax error on card 37". Repeat for a whole term, with slightly different error messages.


We had our first punch-card operated lathe in our foundry in about 1976-7.

After you had loaded the cards, loaded the metal, set the cutting tool, set the lathe up, and stood back, it could cut a component only slightly more slowly than the average apprentice fitter/machinist could, but at only half the speed a journeyman would do the same piece.

That's if the cards didn’t tear when being loaded, or be rejected by the machine, or have oil on them, or catch fire, or just point blank refuse to work, as it inevitably did. Each and every f*ck*ng time.
abseil 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

> ...what you or I think about their pay is irrelevant. They shouldn't be stealing from the taxpayer whether or not they are underpaid, and the method of dealing with expenses fraud should be the same for all public sector workers.

Expenses fraud - keyword "fraud" - absolutely right. If I submitted a false claim at work and was found out, there is NO doubt at all I would be fired.
Post edited at 02:08
In reply to Blue Straggler:
> The ones that enabled them to have....

> Ta-daaah!

Depends if you regard arse licking as a skill.
Post edited at 06:17
KevinD 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Ridge:

> Depends if you regard arse licking as a skill.

It is. Some have it and some dont.

There is also the backstabbing.
 Toby_W 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

My Mum represented a guy who worked for the council in some role involving driving. He had forgotten to fill his own car and put one gallon of diesel in it from the work pump to get him to the petrol station to fill up. Someone saw him and he was sacked and it was passed over to the police as theft so he would possibly have ended up with no job and a criminal record.

Maria miller it seems has been repeatedly brimming the tank again and again, fought tooth and nail to avoid being caught and her peers have said she should pay for a gallon or two and say sorry.

The system should not need changing only those who abuse it.

Cheers

Toby
 Offwidth 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Rob Naylor:

Yet if we want more MPs from a wider selection of people in the real world, as opposed to this increasing number of depressing identikit oxbridge educated, political researcher then MP, career politicians, you have to cover them for career breaks and the time to campaign and the risk of that and for tightened rules on what they do afterwards (to deter the currupt). Also those who do want to do the job properly could arguably do with better research support, especially to get them up and running. However, giving the current bunch all this would be a waste: reform first then better pay and support.
 FesteringSore 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

If Cameron had any balls he would take Miller to one side and said "Look, neither the media or the public are going to let this drop. Do the decent thing." Instead he tells us contemptuously that we need to move on.

What I find equally nauseating is that when this sort of thing happens, it doesn't matter which party, the perpetrator is often forced into resignation only to bounce back, a la Mandelson when they think it's been forgotten, about six months later and eventually finish up with a peerage. I have no doubt that had I behaved in such a manner as Miller I would have been sacked without the option to resign.
In reply to Offwidth:

> Yet if we want more MPs from a wider selection of people in the real world, as opposed to this increasing number of depressing identikit oxbridge educated, political researcher then MP, career politicians,

Only 14% of MPs fit this category (admittedly up from 3.4% in 1979); most MPs come from various professions (see p5). The number of Oxbridge educated MPs has fallen over the last 30 years.

www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN01528.pdf&#8206;




 Offwidth 07 Apr 2014
In reply to MG:

Yet shockingly just under 30% were at oxbridge including 38% of consrvatives and 35% went to fee paying schools (compared to 7% of the population). The career politician route dominates the cabinet and includes the three main party leaders, which is where the power is. As for professions entering parliament increasingly this means business; only a handful with a science or engineering degree. You may be happy that this demographic will represent the population fairly and intelligently. I'm not. The Sutton Trust gives a good summary of the concerns around this.
In reply to Offwidth:

Well one of MPs' (as opposed to ministers') main jobs is advising and representing their constituents. This is a rather similar role I would think to that of the professions we see becoming MPs - lawyers, teachers, doctors. I don't have a problem with this, no. The last group I would want representing me are engineers, and I say that as a professional engineer. Other roles such as scrutinising legislation in technical areas probably would benefit from expertise in those areas and maybe there is a shortage of qualified MPs here, but I don't think that is anything new.
OP Yanis Nayu 07 Apr 2014
In reply to MG:

You could argue that they are well-placed to scrutinise legislation, as they seem well-versed in working out the loopholes in the rules that apply to them.
In reply to Offwidth:

At least oxbridge are open to all of sufficient nowse - I'd think it a bit odd if our elite academic institutions did not supply a fairly large proportion of our MP's.
 Offwidth 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Dr.S at work:

I'm an oxbridge graduate. I saw nothing so special there that justifies those huge percentages or in particular, when you dig down, the dominance of PPE and lack of Science and Engineering grads. It way too much about who you know and not rocking the establishment boat, than intellect.
 tony 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

> You could argue that they are well-placed to scrutinise legislation, as they seem well-versed in working out the loopholes in the rules that apply to them.

Except that they seem singularly incapable of spotting the loopholes that allow big corporations to avoid paying appropriate levels of tax.

But I wonder how much of this is really about expenses and how much is about Maria Miller's role in the issues of gay marriage and press legislation. Both those things make her a target for the Telegraph, and the former makes her a target for a sizeable cohort of Tory backbenchers opposed to gay marriage.
In reply to Offwidth:
the dominance of PPE and lack of Science and Engineering grads.

You keep coming up with these sweeping statements. Do you have any information on the number of MPs with PPE degrees? Or for that matter science or engineering degrees ?

(actually google suggests about 70 with STEM degrees, which isn't that unreasonable)
Post edited at 13:21
In reply to Mick Ward:
>Seem to remember young Pete Mandelson, now Baron Mandelson with a mortgage application which was alleged to have fictional similarities with a Jeffrey Archer novel, i.e. unbelievable. Mortgage fraud (which attracted its first jail sentence back in 1961)? Nope. Nowt happened.

Oh come on, Mick, for goodness' sake, stop this nonsense. The problem with Mandelson wasn't 'mortgage fraud'; it was not registering a personal loan to him from Geoffrey Robinson in the Register of Members' Interests. No-one ever alleged Mandelson had in fact ever done anything to favour Robinson as a result. It was exactly the sort of media smear-storm about very little which disfigures our public life, puts decent people off entering politics and leads to people 'remembering' things that simply aren't true.

As for MPs being 'very rich', come on, seriously. Get a grip.

jcm
Post edited at 13:09
 ByEek 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

Oh dear. "PM stands by Maria Miller"

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26919839

I will give her less than a week.
In reply to Jim C:
>How she can get away with remortgaging the property, doubling the repayments for the taxpayer,

Well, easily, it's because that's part of her entitlement under her contract of employment. She's not entitled to miscalculate the periods, but the general entitlement is not in dispute.

Honestly, some, if not most, of you people seem to have completely lost your minds over this issue.

jcm
Post edited at 13:18
 Mike Stretford 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:


> Why do we put up with it? Fraudulently robbing the taxpayer of £45k (down to £6k after her mates had interjected). 30 second arrogant apology and all is well. Unbe-f*cking-leivable.

Surprised the mods have let that stay up. She was cleared of fraud ie false expense claims.
 Doug 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

Anyone seen an explanation of why she even needed a house in London when her constituency was Basingstoke ? Wimbledon to the Houses of Parliament is only about 15 minutes quicker by public transport (although I guess she gets chauffeured about at our (further) expense)
In reply to dissonance:

>The committee has recommended that I apologise to the House for my attitude to the Commissioner’s inquiries,

To be fair, it's hard to blame her for being annoyed about having to apologise for that, given that she did nothing wrong at all as far as one can see from the Guardian's no doubt biased resume of the correspondence.

jcm
In reply to Doug:

> Anyone seen an explanation of why she even needed a house in London when her constituency was Basingstoke ? Wimbledon to the Houses of Parliament is only about 15 minutes quicker by public transport (although I guess she gets chauffeured about at our (further) expense)

What's to explain? There are rules, there's an employment contract (de facto at least; I think de jure that's not what it is), and under those you're entitled to claim for a second house in London if your constituency is outside a certain distance from the HP. That's all there is to it.

jcm

In reply to tony:

>But I wonder how much of this is really about expenses and how much is about Maria Miller's role in the issues of gay marriage and press legislation. Both those things make her a target for the Telegraph, and the former makes her a target for a sizeable cohort of Tory backbenchers opposed to gay marriage.

Ta-da! Best post on this thread (though Offwidth's rants deserve a mention as well; not the chippy red-brick stuff, but the pro-swearing one).

jcm
 ByEek 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

I don't dispute what you are saying about contract of law and all that, but I think most people have a reasonable sense of what is fair and right in the world.

What she did was neither right or fair. You can wave contracts in my face until you are blue and it will make no difference. I think most people also have a dim view of those who hide behind contacts. This is partly the reason that most letting agents and traffic wardens are seen as utter scum.
In reply to ByEek:

Well, yes, obviously all those posting on their thread waive their own entitlements under their employment contracts all the time and have never dreamed of, for example, receiving child benefit despite the fact they're comfortably off anyway. And the same no doubt goes for journalists on the Telegraph or the Guardian.

Curiously, I've only ever in my life met three people who to my knowledge did those things. All of them are or have been MPs. Maybe they shouted about it more.

jcm
In reply to I like climbing:

> Totally agee. And there are allegations of threats against a Telegraph writer I believe.

Not that I've seen. The transcript I've seen featured an aide suggesting that reporters might care not to doorstep MM's elderly and ill father. In a civilised society such requests wouldn't be necessary, never mind being absurdly described as 'threats'.

jcm
 wynaptomos 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> What's to explain? There are rules, there's an employment contract (de facto at least; I think de jure that's not what it is), and under those you're entitled to claim for a second house in London if your constituency is outside a certain distance from the HP. That's all there is to it.

> jcm

This is the standard explanation from the politicians that they are only following the rules. However, I just don't see how anyone can believe that it is reasonable for anyone to make such financial gain from their expenses in this way. I really don't see any difference from someone taking advantage of the benefits system to gain a few extra pounds(except for the difference in magnitude) but which this government seems so keen to clamp down on.
 deepsoup 07 Apr 2014
In reply to ByEek:
Traffic wardens are seen as utter scum because people hate getting parking tickets even when they deserve them. It's really rather unfair.

Letting agents on the other hand deserve *so* much worse...
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> She's not entitled to miscalculate the periods, but the general entitlement is not in dispute.

But the amount of that entitlement is, the standards commissioner and the Commons Committee for Standards disputed ech other. Also, do we know if the CC of S were unanimous in their verdict?
In reply to wynaptomos:

Look, anyone who knows anything at all about public life knows that being an MP is a terrible job. It has unsocial and enormously long hours which will put enormous strain on your marriage, you are expected to spend hours at excruciatingly boring functions in order to nurse the constituency, you have to spend hours listening to lunatics at local surgeries and answering their letters, should you have some dalliance or other it may well be lasciviously covered by our disgusting press, you have very little job security and if you do get kicked out the five years away will have had a ruinous effect on your professional practice, and meanwhile you have very little power indeed and are perceived by many as responsible for a great many things, which is more or less the definition of workplace stress.

In addition to all the above crap, assuming you have been any kind of success in your profession you are expected to take a substantial salary cut, and voting to increase MPs’ salary to the sort of salary most successful professional people are earning will be met with howls of outrage.

In order to deal with this latter issue, for a very long time there has been a generous expense regime for MPs. As, I say, everyone who knows anything about anything has known this for years – I certainly did when I was a thirteen-year-old – long, long before the Telegraph’s so-called ‘revelations’.

I’m not defending duckhouses, but equally this media-fed bollox about how all our public servants are corrupt is corrosive rubbish which needs to stop.

jcm
 Coel Hellier 07 Apr 2014
In reply to wynaptomos:

> This is the standard explanation from the politicians that they are only following the rules. However, I just don't see how anyone can
> believe that it is reasonable for anyone to make such financial gain from their expenses in this way.

Well if it's the rules that are wrong then it's the rules that are wrong. Personally I'd advocate:

Higher pay for MPs (another 20k say).
Less generous expenses, on a simple flat rate that avoids "issues" with rules.
Less generous pensions.
 off-duty 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> Not that I've seen. The transcript I've seen featured an aide suggesting that reporters might care not to doorstep MM's elderly and ill father. In a civilised society such requests wouldn't be necessary, never mind being absurdly described as 'threats'.

> jcm


But why mention Leveson?

I should just flag up as well, while you’re on it that when she doorstepped him, she got Maria’s father, who’s just had a [removed] and come out of [removed]. And Maria has obviously been having quite a lot of editors’ meetings around Leveson at the moment. So I am just going to flag up that connection for you to think about.

along with a few references to "talking to her boss".
 Offwidth 07 Apr 2014
In reply to MG:
Ok to be more specific in my concerns: 54 of the current crop hold a STEM degree and have done any work in a relevant area (most in medicine if I recall correctly). Only one MP was a professional scientist (ie researcher, J Huppert Lib Dem, although 2 others hold a science PhD). A professional scientist or engineer holds extra qualifications and has professional experience beyond their degree. Just like a law degree doesn't make a lawyer nor a medicine degree making a medic. 40 of the current MPs studied PPE at Oxford. Sweeping enough for you?

As for your view as an Engineer on the suitability of Engineers as MPs, very odd indeed.
Post edited at 14:19
 Carolyn 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Offwidth:
> A professional scientist or engineer holds extra qualifications and has professional experience beyond their degree.

That does depend a bit on the discipline; I worked in medical research for nearly 10 years after my PhD, but there was no obvious professional body to join at the time (I seem to remember some were starting to emerge).
In reply to Offwidth:
40 of the current MPs studied PPE at Oxford. Sweeping enough for you?

Well we are at least dealing with numbers now. 40 PPE degrees from a top university really seems quite reasonable to me and certainly not "dominance", given it is about 7% of the total. The degree is clearly highly relevant to being a politician and the university implies ability is high. What's your problem with this?


> As for your view as an Engineer on the suitability of Engineers as MPs, very odd indeed.

Well engineers are hardly known to their communication skills, or imagination or ability to think broadly. All attributes I would look for in MPs.
Post edited at 14:27
 Offwidth 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Carolyn:

You would count. It not being chartered, it's the professional function that is measured in such stats. In my area of the IET the vast majority of professional level engineers in the area don't bother with IET membership let alone chartered engineer status.
 Offwidth 07 Apr 2014
In reply to MG:

40 MPs from the same degree in one University is reasonable in a democracy? Keep taking the pills.

Also, more cliches on Engineering: professional Engineers I meet don't have noticable problems communicating, imagining or thinking broadly.
In reply to Offwidth:
> 40 MPs from the same degree in one University is reasonable in a democracy? Keep taking the pills.

So you want second raters with backgrounds irrelevant to politics to represent you?

> Also, more cliches on Engineering: professional Engineers I meet don't have noticable problems communicating, imagining or thinking broadly.

You know the old Yellow Pages joke "Civil Engineers - see also boring"? It wouldn't be funny without some truth in it. For every designer of a Millenium Bridge or I-phone or super-car, there are thousands of dull, cautious, unimaginative engineers keeping the world going. A good thing too, but not in politics.
Post edited at 14:42
 wynaptomos 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

Agree with most of this, however it doesn't make the whole situation right. While some of them continue to take advantage of the situation like Miller has done, then the public will continue to tar them all with the same brush and on and on it goes.

Sometime, they are going to have to bite the bullet and award themselves a big pay rise but with a transparent and fair system of expenses like the rest of us have. Then slowly they can start to rebuild confidence in the whole system. Can't see it happening any time soon though........
 GrahamD 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

My guess is that more patents are filed by engineers than by any other discipline.
 off-duty 07 Apr 2014
In reply to wynaptomos:

> Agree with most of this, however it doesn't make the whole situation right. While some of them continue to take advantage of the situation like Miller has done, then the public will continue to tar them all with the same brush and on and on it goes.

> Sometime, they are going to have to bite the bullet and award themselves a big pay rise but with a transparent and fair system of expenses like the rest of us have. Then slowly they can start to rebuild confidence in the whole system. Can't see it happening any time soon though........

Well, they have awarded themselves an 11% payrise so I guess they are getting there.....
 Mike Stretford 07 Apr 2014
In reply to wynaptomos:

> While some of them continue to take advantage of the situation like Miller has done, then the public will continue to tar them all with the same brush and on and on it goes.

The expense claims under scrutiny were made between 2005 and 2009, before the whole expenses scandal erupted.

In the wake of the scandal some MPs who were guilty of fraud were convicted but for the most part a line was drawn and the rules were changed. I generally agree with that as retrospective examination of all MPs expenses based on some 'moral code' would have made the country ungovernable. Ask yourself why the Telegraph are now going over Millar's claims again? Or just go back and read Tony's post
KevinD 07 Apr 2014
In reply to MG:

> So you want second raters with backgrounds irrelevant to politics to represent you?

As opposed to the lot we have now? Also exactly what sort of background is irrelevant to politics?

> A good thing too, but not in politics.

why not? Also its not like lawyers and accountants are exactly known for their high thrill life style. Perhaps we should be recruiting from reality tv shows?
KevinD 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Mike Stretford:

> In the wake of the scandal some MPs who were guilty of fraud were convicted but for the most part a line was drawn and the rules were changed.

Yes the MPs decided which ones should be handed over to the police and which shouldnt be. Not exactly the best way to restore confidence.
In reply to Mike Stretford:

>Ask yourself why the Telegraph are now going over Millar's claims again?

Well, to be fair, to a certain extent the answer to that is that some vindictive little toad on the Labour benches has made a complaint and that the relevant process happens to have wound its way to a conclusion at this time, is it not?

jcm
 off-duty 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Mike Stretford:

Ask yourself why the Telegraph are now going over Millar's claims again? Or just go back and read Tony's post

As I understand it this whole story was triggered by a complaint by John Mann MP.
Given that the whole expenses scandal was broken by the Telegraph, it's not entirely surprising that they chose to pursue a high profile expenses story with a prospect of a ministerial scalp at the end of it.
In reply to dissonance:

>Perhaps we should be recruiting from reality tv shows?

Give it time. The way some people talk, that's where we're heading. After all, what else is Farage but a reality TV show contestant manque?

jcm
 Offwidth 07 Apr 2014
In reply to MG:

I want MP's from a wide variety of backgrounds suitable for properly informing legislation suitable for the future of all of our population. I don't want a cloistered political trained clique that currently dominate the promoted roles.

More engineering cliches, yawn. It really makes me wonder what kind of Engineer you really are. I'd say at professional levels for every spod there is someone a lot more inspiring. In any case British Politics needs more didactics and a good deal less rhetoric.
 Mike Stretford 07 Apr 2014
In reply to off-duty:

> Ask yourself why the Telegraph are now going over Millar's claims again? Or just go back and read Tony's post

> As I understand it this whole story was triggered by a complaint by John Mann MP.

Other way round, the Telegraph story triggered Mann's complaint.
In reply to Mike Stretford:

Really? Is that right - how on earth did the Telegraph know about it before Mann's complaint triggered the regulator's investigation and then the committee.

jcm
 Carolyn 07 Apr 2014
In reply to dissonance:

> Also exactly what sort of background is irrelevant to politics?

That's really the question, isn't it? PPE teaches you about the history and theory of politics - which may have some relevance (always good to know what's failed in the past...), but a medical degree (plus experience) is probably more use when it comes to setting health policy.

And as for listening to your constituents so that you're able to do a reasonable job of representing them (which, as jcm points out, often involves hours of listening to barely coherent rants about something you have very little influence over), that's not really covered in most degrees, though many in professions who deal with the public will need develop them.
 Jim Hamilton 07 Apr 2014
In reply to wynaptomos:

> This is the standard explanation from the politicians that they are only following the rules. However, I just don't see how anyone can believe that it is reasonable for anyone to make such financial gain from their expenses in this way. I really don't see any difference from someone taking advantage of the benefits system to gain a few extra pounds(except for the difference in magnitude) but which this government seems so keen to clamp down on.

I agree. The commissioner concluded Miller “misused” the allowance system to the tune of £45,000. I don’t agree that a politicians life is somehow so terrible that it justifies fiddling their expenses.
KevinD 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> Really? Is that right - how on earth did the Telegraph know about it before Mann's complaint triggered the regulator's investigation and then the committee.

I am guessing the committees reports would be available (since if it wasnt that would spark a row in itself). So just had a journalist read through that, possibly as a punishment.
KevinD 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Carolyn:

> That's really the question, isn't it? PPE teaches you about the history and theory of politics - which may have some relevance (always good to know what's failed in the past...)

Does a politics degree cover that at a useful level?

> And as for listening to your constituents so that you're able to do a reasonable job of representing them (which, as jcm points out, often involves hours of listening to barely coherent rants about something you have very little influence over), that's not really covered in most degrees

My university experience covered the listening to rants bit (barwork to pay my way through).
In reply to dissonance:

But what triggered the whole investigation and report? I thought it was Mann's complaint which did that.

jcm
In reply to Jim Hamilton:

>The commissioner concluded Miller “misused” the allowance system to the tune of £45,000.

Indeed. And the committee which ultimately makes the decision decided that the commissioner was wrong, no? Just as when a planning committee overrides the officer's report.

Is this commissioner's report and/or the committee's decision a public document? Presumably it should be. I just can't be bothered to search for it, is all.

jcm
 off-duty 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Mike Stretford:

> Other way round, the Telegraph story triggered Mann's complaint.

As per jcm - I didn't know that.

From "the apology" - The report resulted from an allegation made by the member for Bassetlaw
KevinD 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> But what triggered the whole investigation and report? I thought it was Mann's complaint which did that.

Not sure. The Telegraph article indicates that it was their story (back in 2012) which triggered his complaint but could be wrong.
KevinD 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> Indeed. And the committee which ultimately makes the decision decided that the commissioner was wrong, no?

Yes they did but thats the problem in a nutshell. MPs judging other MPs doesnt really inspire confidence.
 Mike Stretford 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> Really? Is that right - how on earth did the Telegraph know about it before Mann's complaint triggered the regulator's investigation and then the committee.

From the Telegraph article I linked to

"The Daily Telegraph began an investigation into Mrs Miller’s expense claims after receiving information from a well-placed source."
In reply to Offwidth:

> I want MP's from a wide variety of backgrounds suitable for properly informing legislation suitable for the future of all of our population. I don't want a cloistered political trained clique that currently dominate the promoted roles.

We're going round in circles. As I pointed out above, around 35% of the MPs come from various professions, more from industry and other areas, and just 14% from a "clique". It might suit your rhetoric to pretend otherwise, but it isn't the case.




In reply to Mike Stretford:

Indeed; evidently you're right. 'Well-placed source', hey? That's another hazard of being an MP I might have referred to above, 'well-placed sources'. Or 'informers', as you might call them.

Anyway, according to this

>http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26911952

even the commissioner accepted that she hadn't made any false claims, but that the amount claimed had been too high and shouldn't have been accepted on the basis of the information supplied and the then rules.

So the OP was completely wrong, but shows, as I said, how many people lose their reason over this sort of thing in the light of the dishonest way the media report them.

jcm
In reply to MG:
Well, yes, but those figures are for MPs as a whole, no? Offwidth reckons there are too many people in the Cabinet from particular backgrounds.

jcm
Post edited at 15:41
 Carolyn 07 Apr 2014
In reply to dissonance:

> Does a politics degree cover that at a useful level?

Well, tbh, I don't really know - but I've had to read a few lectures recently from politics graduates that disappear into rambling discussion of obscure bits of political history and theory, so I assume so......
In reply to dissonance:
> As opposed to the lot we have now? Also exactly what sort of background is irrelevant to politics?

As above, from the point of view of individual constituents, I reckon a background that makes you good at providing advice, acting in others' interests and so on. Which perhaps explains the relatively large numbers of lawyers, doctor and teachers. From the point of view of a legislature as a whole, a range of informed opinion is probably valuable, but we also seem to have that, if slightly biased against science and engineering. This idea that all MPs are "professional politicians" isn't supported their backgrounds.
Post edited at 15:48
 off-duty 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Mike Stretford:

Aha! Cheers for the links.
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> Well, yes, but those figures are for MPs as a whole, no? Offwidth reckons there are too many people in the Cabinet from particular backgrounds.

> jcm

He started off claiming it for all MPs and then changed tune somewhat when it was pointed out that was cobblers.
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

In fact...

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/apr/06/mps-expenses-maria-miller-row-scrutiny

according to that

"Sir Kevin Barron, the committee chairman, and Hudson released a joint statement on Friday to correct "misconceptions" in the reporting of the inquiry into Miller. They said the amount was reduced because the standards committee, chaired by Barron, had received more information about Miller's mortgage after Hudson had concluded her work."

If that's right then this really is the biggest non-story imaginable; a better headline would have been 'Total waste of taxpayers' money cooked up by vicious press reports leads to exoneration of minister thanks to much-derided system whereby committee of MPs review work of commissioner'.

I wonder why it's not reported in that light?!

jcm
 Offwidth 07 Apr 2014
In reply to MG:
Id say it was your view which turned out to be cobblers (and childishly insulting to engineers) when I was challenged and gave the real numbers and you still fail to see the problem in them.

Just to be clear I think PPE or similar is probably a very good background for some of our MP's. What is problematic for me is that 7% of MPs studied PPE at oxford when they only make up around 0.05% of graduates (just over 200 in not so far from half a million) and not all MPs are graduates. It is simply not feasible for me that this is sensibly representative in a democracy or could even be based on any genuine measure of suitability for the role. Oxbridge may well only take the best at admissions and the teaching can be outstanding but this is also the case in a few other top institutions and the rest are no so far behind with their highest performers.
Post edited at 15:55
 off-duty 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> In fact...


> according to that

> "Sir Kevin Barron, the committee chairman, and Hudson released a joint statement on Friday to correct "misconceptions" in the reporting of the inquiry into Miller. They said the amount was reduced because the standards committee, chaired by Barron, had received more information about Miller's mortgage after Hudson had concluded her work."

> If that's right then this really is the biggest non-story imaginable; a better headline would have been 'Total waste of taxpayers' money cooked up by vicious press reports leads to exoneration of minister thanks to much-derided system whereby committee of MPs review work of commissioner'.

> I wonder why it's not reported in that light?!

> jcm

Maybe because of the ill-advised/ill-chosen/threatening (delete as applicable) reference to Leveson by her Special Advisor, and the extremely desultory nature of her apology...?
KevinD 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> I wonder why it's not reported in that light?!

I believe that is covered under the fact she spent a lot of time obstructing the independent inquiry. That she didnt provide the proper evidence to the independent body is her problem really.
KevinD 07 Apr 2014
In reply to off-duty:

> Maybe because of the ill-advised/ill-chosen/threatening (delete as applicable) reference to Leveson by her Special Advisor, and the extremely desultory nature of her apology...?

Dont forget the ill-advised/ill-chosen/threatening comments to the independent watchdog as well.
In reply to off-duty:

Oh, come on, I think we all know that's not why it's not reported in that light.

I'd need to know more about the background of the conversation before concluding that the Leveson reference was any kind of hint that if the press didn't back off MM would somehow enact Leveson - apart from anything else, that would be *such* a laughably foolish thing to do, whereas for the press to paint any such reference as a 'threat' is *so* much par for the course, that Occams is positively screaming at me.

Still, I'm sure representatives of the Fourth Estate have never, at any time, however implicitly, suggested that any story of any kind might be run if measures hostile to what the FE perceives as its interest were taken, so that's all right, then.

jcm
In reply to dissonance:

> Dont forget the ill-advised/ill-chosen/threatening comments to the independent watchdog as well.

You'd have to help me with the threatening ones. But insofar as MM suggested to the commissioner that she stop wasting MM's valuable time and the taxpayer's money, she's been vindicated. It's hard not to understand why she was a bit annoyed about being badgered like this.

jcm
In reply to dissonance:

>That she didnt provide the proper evidence to the independent body is her problem really.

Sure, but that's a comparatively trivial matter, easily dealt with. You wouldn't get the impression from the media reporting that that was the main issue. Columns by the likes of Peter Oborne and Cristina Odone have been startlingly dishonest even by the standards of people like those two.

jcm
OP Yanis Nayu 07 Apr 2014
In reply to off-duty:

Even if the amount of money she incorrectly claimed for was "only" £6k, that's enough to get most people sacked, and at least requires some attempt at a sincere and gracious apology. It's the breathtaking arrogance that gets my goat.

Given that she's a minister, she won't "only" be on £65k either.
 Carolyn 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

Well, what else are you going to do with a PPE degree?

In reply to Offwidth:

> Id say it was your view which turned out to be cobblers (and childishly insulting to engineers) when I was challenged and gave the real numbers and you still fail to see the problem in them.



This started with you stating "Yet if we want more MPs from a wider selection of people in the real world, as opposed to this increasing number of depressing identikit oxbridge educated, political researcher then MP, career politicians"

We have since established only 14% of MPs could remotely fit this description, the proportion of Oxbridge educated MPs has fallen over 30 years and we have a wide range of professions and other backgrounds as MPs. So, I think cobblers is a reasonable description.
KevinD 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> You'd have to help me with the threatening ones. But insofar as MM suggested to the commissioner that she stop wasting MM's valuable time and the taxpayer's money, she's been vindicated.

By vindicated you mean by her fellow MPs? Not overly convincing that one.
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

>Even if the amount of money she incorrectly claimed for was "only" £6k, that's enough to get most people sacked

Yeah, but, y'see, that's not actually true, now is it? She didn't say anything false at all. She made a claim and explained what the facts were, and it's just that some of her claim was allowed at the time when some people, nearly ten years later, think it should not have been, although the relevant authorities disagree with them. That's hardly her fault, specially as she was dealing with rules which were clearly understood at the time to mean one thing and whose effect is even now controversial. None of that is her fault at all.

And even the £5,800 seems to have been a figure she put forward as one she was willing to pay without actually conceding it had been due.

As to breath-taking arrogance, each to his own. I don't find it a bit surprising that she's thoroughly pissed off with this nonsense. To me the smugness and dishonesty of journalists and the ill-informed spouting of members of the public who can't be bothered to discover the facts is more distasteful, but there we are.

jcm
In reply to Offwidth:

What is problematic for me is that 7% of MPs studied PPE at oxford when they only make up around 0.05% of graduates (just over 200 in not so far from half a million) and not all MPs are graduates. It is simply not feasible for me that this is sensibly representative in a democracy or could even be based on any genuine measure of suitability for the role.

Why? PPE is clearly a degree aimed at some of the most capable students in the country who want to become politicians or similar. That a good proportion do just that is surely a good thing? If parliament was really "dominated" by such MPs, I agree there might be a problem but it isn't, as we established somewhere around 14% of MPs in total have this sort of background.
In reply to dissonance:

> By vindicated you mean by her fellow MPs? Not overly convincing that one.

Well, by a committee of 13 people ten of whom were MPs, yes.

You did read the joint statement by the chairman of the committee and the commissioner, right?

jcm
 Babika 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

I simply don't believe that her £6k overclaim on mortgage interest was due to error. Everyone knows about falling interest rates so it is impossible that she didn't in her position.

Which means that if it was deliberate fraud, she should be sacked and prosecuted.

Benefit overclaimants and tax avoiders are prosecuted where they have given false information (I used to manage a benefits fraud section). The defence of "I didn't know" is simply not allowed.

The other aspect - the £150k re-mortgage is morally indefensible and any MP should look to the Nolan Principles to be guided in what they do, no matter what "the rules" say.

 off-duty 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> Oh, come on, I think we all know that's not why it's not reported in that light.

> I'd need to know more about the background of the conversation before concluding that the Leveson reference was any kind of hint that if the press didn't back off MM would somehow enact Leveson - apart from anything else, that would be *such* a laughably foolish thing to do, whereas for the press to paint any such reference as a 'threat' is *so* much par for the course, that Occams is positively screaming at me.

> Still, I'm sure representatives of the Fourth Estate have never, at any time, however implicitly, suggested that any story of any kind might be run if measures hostile to what the FE perceives as its interest were taken, so that's all right, then.

> jcm

There might be undisclosed detail on the background of the call that illuminates it further, but on face value, both the tape and the transcript appear to be a special advisor's (at best) clumsy and heavy-handed attempts to complain about a journalists behaviour that have actually come across as threats.
Coupled with a bit of "we never threatened anyone.... " -
'But there's a tape recording'
"Oh..."

As Occam would no doubt suggest - if you just want to complain about doorstepping why bring up Leveson? The tone of that conversation appears at the very least "Watch what you are doing, we know your bosses and we will get you in some trouble"

(It's all a bit reminiscent of "You haven't heard the last of this..." allegedly uttered to some f@@king plebs or other
 off-duty 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> >Even if the amount of money she incorrectly claimed for was "only" £6k, that's enough to get most people sacked

> Yeah, but, y'see, that's not actually true, now is it? She didn't say anything false at all. She made a claim and explained what the facts were, and it's just that some of her claim was allowed at the time when some people, nearly ten years later, think it should not have been, although the relevant authorities disagree with them. That's hardly her fault, specially as she was dealing with rules which were clearly understood at the time to mean one thing and whose effect is even now controversial. None of that is her fault at all.

Odd then that when she was asked "Miller struggled to explain why she abruptly stopped making claims on her Wimbledon home in 2009 – the moment when the Daily Telegraph published its groundbreaking investigation into MPs' expenses.

Miller told the Evening Standard: "Because I think there was a lot of concern about the rules and, er, a lot of concern about, you know, the whole issue, and it's something I felt that I didn't want to be, sort of, mixed up in, the fact that I ..."

She then paused and said: "I just made that decision."
"

Because as far as she was concerned everything she had done was perfectly tickety-boo...
 Offwidth 07 Apr 2014
In reply to MG:
Where is your evidence for the fall in percentage of PPE grads? Where in the past was the Oxford PPE to political advisor to MP to minister route quicker or more commonly successful?

Of course Oxbridge numbers of MPs have reduced over the decades, especially with the post war growth of the labour party, just not so fast as any reasoned analysis on talent would suggets they should. Plus some of this is due to all women short lists in labour. Yet still we have more Oxford PPE grads (lets guess at that ~5,000/50,000,000 as a fraction of the population) than women in the cabinet (um?... women?? must be a tiny percentage of able people, non?). Plus more than 80% of the cabinet are ex oxbridge.

Time for you to go to do your homework and then tea and then bed as you have school tomorrow....
Post edited at 16:24
KevinD 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> Well, by a committee of 13 people ten of whom were MPs, yes.

of which only MPs get a vote. About as useful a measure as letting the press monitor themselves.

> You did read the joint statement by the chairman of the committee and the commissioner, right?

yes. Which bit were you thinking of? That the MPs decided a strict reading of the rules was a bit unfair? Unfortunate really but most people dont get to chose to redefine the rules to be more convenient.

Or perhaps the piece where even the committee considered her attitude towards the commissioner was worthy of censure?


In reply to Babika:

>the £150k re-mortgage is morally indefensible

Well, come on, that's nonsense - you've no idea what it was for. Even if you mean that claiming for it was indefensible, I can't agree - we can't possibly expect anything more from MPs than following the rules applicable to their remuneration just as all the rest of us do.

>and any MP should look to the Nolan Principles to be guided in what they do

...as administered by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, right?

jcm
In reply to off-duty:

Jeez, man, what's your point? I'm sure a lot of MPs stopped doing a lot of claiming in 2009 because they felt the regime was changing and they didn't want to get into trouble. It takes a pretty poisonously-minded public to hold that against them.

jcm
In reply to Offwidth:

> Where is your evidence for the fall in percentage of PPE grads?

I didn't make that claim.


> Of course Oxbridge numbers of MPs have reduced over the decades,

If that's obvious, why did you claim they were increasing ("as opposed to this increasing number of depressing identikit oxbridge educated,..")?


Plus more than 80% of the cabinet are ex oxbridge.


I see you are back to confusing the Cabinet with MPs.

> Time for you to go to do your homework and then tea and then bed as you have school tomorrow....

Just admit you were wrong - rather than make yourself look even more of a tit.
In reply to dissonance:

>That the MPs decided a strict reading of the rules was a bit unfair? Unfortunate really but most people dont get to chose to redefine the rules to be more convenient.

Yes and no. I could quote you a hundred laws which courts interpreted in ways they thought did justice and reflected the intention of those who drafted them, as opposed to a more literal interpretation which the other side in the debate were contending for. Whether that decision was a good or a bad one in this case would require an awful lot more familiarity with the facts and relevant regulations than either of us has. Obviously you think it must have been bad because the press says so, but my guess would be the other way. I note the commissioner felt able to issue a joint statement, which doesn't suggest she felt terribly outraged by it.

>of which only MPs get a vote.

The lay members are entitled to add their opinions to the report. Unless you know different, I don't believe they chose to add any dissenting opinion on this occasion.

>About as useful a measure as letting the press monitor themselves

Yes, well, funny you should say that.

>Or perhaps the piece where even the committee considered her attitude towards the commissioner was worthy of censure?

Sure, well you've now said that about a dozen times, and as I've said that isn't in my view a huge matter, and MM has delivered the apology the committee thought appropriate (for nothing much, as far as I can see from the extracts which have been released).

jcm
 off-duty 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> Jeez, man, what's your point? I'm sure a lot of MPs stopped doing a lot of claiming in 2009 because they felt the regime was changing and they didn't want to get into trouble. It takes a pretty poisonously-minded public to hold that against them.

> jcm

I would have hoped that an MP could have put that point across a lot more coherently when questioned. It's hardly an unexpected question.

"Er, well, with the current focus on expenses I was concerned about having inadvertently made a mistake so I decided to stop claiming for eveything and ensure that I fully understood the rules and was complying with them"

I would have though that somebody who is supposedly worthy of a high salary due to their ability to communicate, debate, formulate arguments and reason with people should have done a good deal better.

Her response reminds me of a bang-to-rights shoplifter struggling to think of a plausible explanation for behaviour that they knew they shouldn't be doing. And on further thought - they quite often get all bullying and threatening too.....
 Rob Exile Ward 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

You're being disingenuous here. What happened as you know perfectly well is that MPs thought they'd discovered a terrific wheeze where they could keep giving themselves pay rises - via expenses - without having to face public opprobrium for actually doing so.

It was morally wrong and for the most part straightforward, conscious fiddling, as ever (not) justified by the whine 'everyone does it.'

These were significant sums that were sloshing around and if Miller thought she was wrong after 2009 - when the principle didn't change, after all, then she should have handed over the dosh she claimed before then.

How on earth these people thing they are setting an example such that they can enable laws that people will actually respect is totally beyond me.
In reply to Babika:

>I simply don't believe that her £6k overclaim on mortgage interest was due to error. Everyone knows about falling interest rates so it is impossible that she didn't in her position.

You're doing better than me if you can work out from the reports how it arose at all. I don't find it all hard to suppose that an MP is not aware of falling interest rates in anything but a general sense, though. Not everyone monitors the exact outgoing on their mortgage every month, specially if, for example, it's their spouse who deals with all that stuff.

jcm
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

>What happened as you know perfectly well is that MPs thought they'd discovered a terrific wheeze where they could keep giving themselves pay rises - via expenses - without having to face public opprobrium for actually doing so.

Well, that's definitely true. As I said, this had been well known for decades. The Telegraph's pretence of having uncovered anything was not the least unpleasant aspect of this whole thing.

>It was morally wrong and for the most part straightforward, conscious fiddling,

Nonsense. Have some respect for the plain meaning of words.

jcm
In reply to off-duty:

>I would have hoped that an MP could have put that point across a lot more coherently when questioned. It's hardly an unexpected question.

Well, there I agree with you. I'm sure MM would think so as well, in retrospect. However, she may have had more important things to do than consider exactly how she was going to express to a journalist what is perfectly obviously explicable to everyone. One would certainly hope so; in general our ministers of state should be devoting their time to more important things than how they express themselves to the Evening Standard.

jcm

KevinD 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> Sure, well you've now said that about a dozen times

Actually thats the first time I mentioned the committee also found her behaviour dubious.
I guess our positions are somewhat different. I do expect MPs do behave better than the average person since they are given far more authority.

It doesnt count as an excuse saying the rules werent clear when they were the ones writing them.
As it is their behavior is well below what would get a civil servant or a benefits claimant into problems.
In reply to dissonance:

>It doesnt count as an excuse saying the rules werent clear when they were the ones writing them.

Oh come on, man, for goodness' sake. This is nonsense. Are you saying every MP should be able to interpret every provision of the legislation correctly? These particular ones were probably drafted before MM was even an MP.

>As it is their behavior is well below what would get a civil servant or a benefits claimant into problems.

Not sure if you mean generally, or MM. If the latter then being a bit frosty towards assessors is hardly likely to get benefits claimants into problems.

jcm
 Rob Exile Ward 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

'As I said, this had been well known for decades.' By whom? Not me.

And patently it was morally wrong, because they claimed to be doing something - showing pay restraint - that they weren't.


And yes it was fiddling - if a London MP was flipping their main place of residence - London - with somewhere else so they could jump on the mortgage gravy train, when that was not necessary for them to execute their public duties, - which is the *only* legitimate reason for paying expenses in the first place, the clue is in the name - , then they were taking money under false pretences.
OP Yanis Nayu 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

I'm perplexed then, given the victim status you ascribe her, why she was told to apologise and pay back 6 grand. Especially within an expenses regime which is, to say the least, generous.
 Duncan Bourne 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Ridge:

> It may be the ideal, but there is almost no opportunity for these motivated people to enter government. Increasing pay just means the taxpayer pays more for the same party hacks.

Why not? Have you tried and failed? I am interested.
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:
>'As I said, this had been well known for decades.' By whom? Not me.

I can assure you it was well known by the Daily Telegraph, for example.

>And patently it was morally wrong, because they claimed to be doing something - showing pay restraint - that they weren't.

Did they?

>And yes it was fiddling - if a London MP was flipping their main place of residence - London - with somewhere else so they could jump on the mortgage gravy train, when that was not necessary for them to execute their public duties, - which is the *only* legitimate reason for paying expenses in the first place, the clue is in the name - , then they were taking money under false pretences.

Again, this is just tosh. There's no "pretending" at all. If the rules say, as they at one time did and as many similar rules do, that the claimant can choose to treat either residence as their main residence for some purpose or another, then the claimant is entitled to do that irrespective of the facts. If the rules want to say something different, they need to say something different (as they've now been changed to do). People are entitled, when they are deciding whether to abandon their careers to become MPs or not, to consider the whole remuneration they will be entitled to, and this has for a long time included the opportunity to make a capital gain on property. It's pointless to call that names; it's an entitlement and that's all there is to it.

(MM, btw, wasn't even flipping AFAIK. The question was whether she was entitled to have her elderly parents living with her in her second home.)

jcm

Post edited at 17:37
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

>I'm perplexed then, given the victim status you ascribe her, why she was told to apologise and pay back 6 grand

She was told to apologise because she'd sent frosty letters to the commissioner. As far as the material in the public domain goes, that was unjustified in my view, but there it is.

As to the 6 grand, as I said I'm a bit puzzled myself. But given that even the commissioner specifically cleared her of supplying false information to the authorities ten years ago, it looks to me like a reassessment with little or no blame attached.

jcm
 Offwidth 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:
I think she is 'unlucky' only to the extent that the level of her original misbehaviour is low compared to some of what has happened in the fairly recent past and that she wasn't caught earlier. The key points to me in this case is that it a negative finding has happened again and to a minister (where - lets be clear as you can hardly make this up - they would be involved in implementing the new press legislation) and facing all the public disgust with MPs fiddling expenses, and given this, with such poor judgement in response to questions and the penalty (on being clearly evasive and grudging) and with the MP's on the committee being suspected to have been a good deal kinder on the penalties than they needed to be (the vast majority of the public currently don't want kindness: they want their elected MPs to follow the rules and make strictly fair claims) and with defence from the government and the PM in the face of obvious public scorn. The idea that this behaviour from a minister in the context in which it has occurred, was going to be regarded as morally or, more important, politically acceptable by the public is crazy. The public faith in the MPs on the committee that makes the decisions is going to be understandably shaken. It seems to me she has to go and MPs (and especially ministers) need to understand that while the spotlight remains (sometimes unfair and malicious though this may be: eg from whomsoever leaked against her and with the obvious glee of some of the press) this sort of thing is not going to be seen as publically acceptable for a long while to come. Did all those Oxbridge educated ministers really learn so little?
Post edited at 17:46
OP Yanis Nayu 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

I read just now that the apology was to the commissioner - it wasn't possible to tell from what she said.
Jim C 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
I'm with Norman Tebbit on this one, and apparently 80+ % of Tory voters who don't share your view.

If I was your boss, and I read your view on this, I would be having a really good look at any expenses you claimed, as you display ( in my view,) a motivation not to just recoup legitimate monies paid out whilst doing your job, but to profit from taking a particular view, (away from the spirit of rules. )
Post edited at 17:53
In reply to Jim C:

Ooh, get you. Threatening, eh?

I don't have a boss. I pay my employees' expenses claims. Maybe I'd better start scrutinising them and get the press involved, hey? That should improve morale.

jcm
In reply to Offwidth:

Oh, sure, I agree. She'll have to resign, to the obvious detriment of public life. You can't fight press lies once they've made up their minds and no sort of regulation will ever impose basic standards of honesty upon the press.

I'm just pointing out that the moral indignation so many are expressing in this particular case is totally misplaced, that's all. But then that's never been important; the majority of the electorate are ill-informed morons easily inflamed by what they read in the gutter press, and political calculations have to take that into account, so she'll be out.

jcm
 Rob Exile Ward 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

It seems to me as a lawyer you're more than half ay to being a politician yourself - as in, if something isn't actually proscribed by law, then doing it is ok. Well that isn't how the real world works.

Let me give you an example. If my employees stay in a hotel in the course of work, and it costs £100 because all the Travel lodges are booked, that's OK, I'll pay. If they pay £50 that's better still and of course I'll pay that too. But if they claim £100 and stay in a £50 hotel and keep the difference, then I will sack them, because they will be fiddling me. I pay expenses, not expenses plus an implicit bonus on the side.
 Rob Exile Ward 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

'the majority of the electorate are ill-informed morons easily inflamed by what they read in the gutter press'

It's a b*gger, this democracy rubbish, isn't it?
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

The worst system ever invented, as they say, except for all the others that have ever been tried. As for the press, that's like sailors complaining about the sea.

jcm
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

That's a staggering post, both in that you think what has happened here is comparable to your example, and in the fact that you appear to think that your fiddling example illustrates your point that anything 'not actually prescribed by law' is not OK.

Still, to be honest, anyone who can post in those terms is clearly beyond reason on this topic, so I'll stop.

jcm
OP Yanis Nayu 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

If she is so clearly in the right, why did she apologise? Surely she should have the integrity to stand up for herself?

 Rob Exile Ward 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

You might choose to read posts with a bit more care before slagging them off. The word I used was 'proscribed'. Slightly different to 'prescribed', wouldn't you say?
OP Yanis Nayu 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

Has anyone said "How do you solve a problem like Maria?" yet?
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

I did notice that, actually, but what you said didn't seem to make any sense, so I'm afraid I assumed you meant 'prescribed'.

jcm
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

>If she is so clearly in the right, why did she apologise?

Because the committee told her to, I suppose. It's nonsense, I agree - patently she doesn't feel her letters to the commissioner were wrong, but the committee do, so she has to make an insincere apology. It happens all the time; if she'd refused there'd have been even more rubbish about arrogance in the Telegraph.

jcm
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

Well, let me ask you a question - you said she'd been 'fraudulently robbing' the taxpayer, which was clearly untrue and indeed libellous.

Are you going to apologise?!

jcm
OP Yanis Nayu 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

If it saved me a few grand!
Jim C 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> Ooh, get you. Threatening, eh?

> I don't have a boss. I pay my employees' expenses claims. Maybe I'd better start scrutinising them and get the press involved, hey? That should improve morale.

> jcm

threat?
(Who us making stuff up now?)





 Duncan Bourne 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

I wouldn't call being an MP a terrible job, speaking as some one who knows a few who have stood in local elections, it is no worse than many other jobs, what you said could easily describe a nurse, junior doctor, care worker etc.
But that being said I actually agree with you on this one. If she did not do anything illegal then really she has no cause to apologise. You can't have a go at people for using the system as it stands.
I do appreciate that legal definitions of what is "fair" may differ wildly with what the general public consider fair but that won't cut much ice with the courts
 elsewhere 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Duncan Bourne:
I would hope an mp has some morality and judgement beyond what is legal.
 Duncan Bourne 07 Apr 2014
In reply to elsewhere:

It always strikes me that while we are happy to point out the moral lapses in others we are more than happy to ignore those others see in ourselves
 elsewhere 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Duncan Bourne:
So you accept there is a morality beyond what is legal?
 Duncan Bourne 07 Apr 2014
In reply to elsewhere:

Absolutley! Morality is very much a personal and social choice dicated by ones peers and family more than what the law states. Which is probably why the law is somewhat cagey over moral rights (unless it is rich peoples moral rights). I myself am particularly immoral in some quarters. I am an atheist, I have had sex outside of marriage, I have divorced, I have lax attitude to homosexuality to some people that is very immoral. The question is whether using legitimate expenses in a way that might seem excessive to outsiders but quite reasonable to you counts as immoral.
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

> But that being said I actually agree with you on this one. If she did not do anything illegal then really she has no cause to apologise.

So people should only apologise if they have broken the law?
 Seocan 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Greenbanks.

> What is beyond belief is that fingers are all too easily pointed, in these lands, towards our European neighbours (and further afield) regarding this kind of behaviour.

True, when i was young and niave I used to think we (the Great British) were above being corruptable. As with many things you develop an undrstanding as you age. We are on a par with the Greeks, Italians, Romanians and the like (no offence intended towrds any of those nations, my wife is Greek, ans she laughs at us).
 Duncan Bourne 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Tyler:

People should only apologise if they believe they should (or just to be diplomatic if it saves them mither)
 winhill 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

> If she did not do anything illegal then really she has no cause to apologise. You can't have a go at people for using the system as it stands.

Lord Tebbit seems to disagree, saying that these continued abuses bring the whole system and even the gubmint in to disrepute.

Regarding the legality or not, one interesting case was surely that of Baroness Uddin.

After claiming £125,000 that she wasn't entitled to, the filth were ready to arrest her for fraud when Pownall announced that a member of the House of Lords only had to visit their main residence one a month. The CPS backed off and stopped the investigation on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

Then Pownall said that he never intended his enquiries to impact criminal investigations.

Whether she broke the law or not seems a debatable point, regardless as to whether she was charged with anything.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8564017.stm
 Duncan Bourne 07 Apr 2014
In reply to winhill:

> Lord Tebbit seems to disagree, saying that these continued abuses bring the whole system and even the gubmint in to disrepute.

If it is an abuse (eg dining out on caviar when a chip butty would do) then fair enough. But if it is reasonable within the allowed expenses then I would say not (eg. eating in a modest restaurant rather than standing outside with a bag of chips).

> Regarding the legality or not, one interesting case was surely that of Baroness Uddin.

> After claiming £125,000 that she wasn't entitled to, the filth were ready to arrest her for fraud when Pownall announced that a member of the House of Lords only had to visit their main residence one a month. The CPS backed off and stopped the investigation on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

> Then Pownall said that he never intended his enquiries to impact criminal investigations.

Which is interesting and confirms my belief that the law is on the side of the money.

 Duncan Bourne 07 Apr 2014
In reply to winhill:

to re-cap
(From BBC news site)
It is not illegal for MPs to designate the same property as their second home for the purposes of claiming expenses but as their main home for tax purposes.

However, the practice of “flipping” was exposed during the expenses scandal and was deemed to be unethical so in 2009 the parliamentary authorities asked MPs to sign a declaration pledging to pay CGT on the sale profits of homes on which they claimed expenses.

Mrs Miller was sent three letters from parliamentary authorities asking her to confirm that she would pay tax on her “second home” when it was sold. She did not sign the declaration and stopped claiming expenses. She later redesignated the property as her main home and sold it earlier this year.

So not illegal but certainly in a very grey area ethically. What is more interesting in my view is not so much that she has broken the rules but that parliament has seemingly conspired to let her off the hook.
OP Yanis Nayu 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

They do seem to choose their second home based on what will get them the most money, rather than what is naturally their second home.

Regarding what she did, yes, morally dubious at best and at her time when her colleagues are cutting public expenditure.
 Duncan Bourne 07 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

Agreed. In light of the fact that she was actually breaking ( or bending ) the rules then I agree that in this instance she should apologise, although really in any other job she would be disciplined. If you or I fiddled our work expenses then we wouldn't be asked to apologise we would just be sacked.
In reply to winhill:

That was in 2010. What did the subsequent standards investigation find?

jcm
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

Duncan, for goodness' sake. AIUI, there was a time when the parliamentary rules allowed one simply to choose which house was going to be treated as one's 'main residence' whatever the reality. The CGT regime on the other hand required the actual main residence to be treated as the main residence for CGT purposes. So many MPs nominated one for one purpose and one for the other, perfectly openly and legally.

Undoubtedly this had the result that MPs were seen to be getting over-generous treatment and it was stopped. However, to portray MPs who took advantage of this as dishonest or unethical is just utter bollocks. They used their entitlement just as any of us does when we take out an ISA. Whether they should have had that right is a different question.

The government's demand that MPs should pay capital gains tax voluntarily following their previous elections for parlimentary purposes was childish posturing, and MM is perfectly entitled to reply that she doesn't see why she should make a donation to the Treasury for party political purposes, and proposes to pay exactly what CGT she is liable for just like everyone else. Whether that's politically wise of her is another matter, but still, good for her.

Let's face it, if Tebbit thinks she's wrong, there's more or less bound to be at least some merit in her position.

jcm
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

>They do seem to choose their second home based on what will get them the most money, rather than what is naturally their second home.

They used to. These events took place in 2005-9. This particular benefit has been stopped.

>and at her time when her colleagues are cutting public expenditure.

Nonsense. These events took place at a time when Labour was busy dealing with public expenditure and MM was an opposition back-bencher.

Honestly, the things you people say. You really have lost all reason on this matter. So has the nation as a whole, of course, to be fair.

jcm
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

By the way, and apropos of Tony's point, I notice, mooching around the Telegraph site, that one of MM's most vicious critics is the loathsome Cristina Odone, the Catholic journalist well known for observations such as 'I love my gay friends. But Cameron imposing gay marriage on us marks a new intolerance.'.

What could her angle possibly be, I wonder?

jcm
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

>I wouldn't call being an MP a terrible job, speaking as some one who knows a few who have stood in local elections, it is no worse than many other jobs, what you said could easily describe a nurse, junior doctor, care worker etc.

It's a terrible job compared to the jobs most MPs have left. Obviously it's infinitely preferable to lots of other jobs.

jcm
 winhill 07 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> That was in 2010. What did the subsequent standards investigation find?

> jcm

Uddin?

Ordered to repay £125,000 that was claimed in Bad Faith (but not in a fraudulent manner, phew) and suspended for a theoretical 3 years, if the suspension is renewed.

De facto 6 months suspension then back in as she paid it back.
 Duncan Bourne 08 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> Duncan, for goodness' sake. AIUI, there was a time when the parliamentary rules allowed one simply to choose which house was going to be treated as one's 'main residence' whatever the reality. The CGT regime on the other hand required the actual main residence to be treated as the main residence for CGT purposes. So many MPs nominated one for one purpose and one for the other, perfectly openly and legally.

I get that.

> The government's demand that MPs should pay capital gains tax voluntarily following their previous elections for parlimentary purposes was childish posturing

It doesn't come across as that. It comes across as an attempt to reign in what is percieved as abuse (without actually going the whole hog). The parliamentry committee themselves state that they believed it to be unethical, which given the current outrage seems reasonable. I don't get why you think the Parliamentry committee is wrong.

, and MM is perfectly entitled to reply that she doesn't see why she should make a donation to the Treasury for party political purposes

I would agree with that it should go in to the general pot of public money.

, and proposes to pay exactly what CGT she is liable for just like everyone else. Whether that's politically wise of her is another matter, but still, good for her.

So a bit like using an offshore company to avoid tax, or appointing family members to avoid tax. It is seeming like she made a nice profit at tax payers expense and throws a few pennies back (grumpily) when she gets found out.

> Let's face it, if Tebbit thinks she's wrong, there's more or less bound to be at least some merit in her position.

Hmmm
 Duncan Bourne 08 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:


> It's a terrible job compared to the jobs most MPs have left. Obviously it's infinitely preferable to lots of other jobs.

If it is that bad why do it?
So you are saying that most MP's come from a privileged elite?

 Carolyn 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

> If it is that bad why do it?

Because you want to change the way things work & make the country a better place?

> So you are saying that most MP's come from a privileged elite?

Whilst you could choose to interpret it that way, I think it's rather unfair. A junior doctor has had to work hard, putting work before almost everything else during the early years of their career, but has probably been able to find a better balance once they reach a senior position (I realise this has switched round a bit since EU working time directive hit); I know less about lawyers, but I imagine it's similar. That's certainly only a bright and well educated minority of the population, but hardly just the privileged elite who've been to Eton and Oxford.
 Offwidth 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Carolyn:
Yes its not only a privaledged elite but it is a lot of that. Having been there and having friends in that group who are now grandparents I know thats certainly what rich parents hope for their already highly advantaged kids. Sure the brightest public school kids I knew went there on a scholarship but plenty others were from very wealthy backgrounds. The best public schools certainly gave an advatage above natural intellect as they trained their pupils how to get in and how to suceed once there. This simply didnt happen in my very good local comp nor really in the grammar schools where some friends went to. In the end its hard to see the steps in cumulative advantage until you look at the occasional crazy outputs: it simply beggars belief that Oxford PPE grads are fairly exceeding the ability of the female half of the population to get in to the Uk cabinet.

I think this is a growing problem for the UK as a combination of University fee debt, widespread nepotism, unpaid internships seem to me to be reducing the opportunities of the able kids from poor backgrounds. Its worse in fashion and media but clearly affecting politics amongst many other areas.If we limit the opportunities of our genuine talent base we just limit our success as a nation.
Post edited at 08:07
 Offwidth 08 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
People dont queue up to do terrible jobs. I might agree more if you expressed concern that the current situation scares away good candidates but in a modern democracy with a free press, a liklihood of always remaining private isnt realy possible in any case.

Your arguments about applications of rules are simply missing the point. The tide of public despair isnt a fevered witchhunt coordinated by the press it's more a genuine disgust with the behaviour around expenses in politics that the press take advantage of to sell papers. People want good behaviour from their MPs not exploitation of rules. In this case the problem and the committee decision is not about the old rules its about what MPs had been told to expect right now and the arrogant behaviour dsplayed in the face of that. Do you really think if the public were ideally informed they would feel the committee had gone too far?

This stuff about ISAs is nonsense as they are a specific tax advantage designed to be used. Tax evaders exploit legal loopholes and that is what pisses off the population albeit clearly not as much as the exploitation of rules by their MPs
Post edited at 08:36
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

> It seems to me as a lawyer you're more than half ay to being a politician yourself - as in, if something isn't actually proscribed by law, then doing it is ok. Well that isn't how the real world works.


But that is how the real world works, isn't it? There's the law (theft, fraud, deception etc), then as an MP there are further regulations and policies that you agree to abide by, beyond the requirement sof the law. Beyond that there are personal scruples, morality, self-discipline, charity. These are optional. They are desirable virtues but what makes them virtuous is the fact that you have a choice.

There are some parallels with all the multinational tax avoidance media froth a few months ago. If people stick within the law, and the rules, then you can neither prosecute nor discipline them. You can disapprove of them and if they are in an elected position you can choose not to vote for them. If you feel strongly enough that the current rules are failing to prevent an unfair practice, you can also change them.

There's quite a margin between sticking to the rules and exemplary moral behaviour. We can insist on the former but only hope for the latter. Oh, and try hard ourselves, of course.
 Offwidth 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Dave Garnett:
Yet the system was clear for Maria (I suspect some in her position left Parliament at the last election to avoid the prospect of further digging into their remaining expenses grey areas) and senior politicians including the PM have made a lot of speeches about how such behaviour is wrong and going to be dealt with firmly and she is a minister. As such her recent behaviour has contributed hugely to her current problems. Clearer cooperation and more gushing apologies (meant or not) would probably mean we would not be talking about this now. If its an issue of principle for her is there anything on the record of her views being similar to John's?

Dealing with tax avoidance (not evasion as I mistakenly wrote above) is partly about rewriting rules to close unintended loopholes but it is galling to see things like ISAs being descihed as exactly the same thing by the moraly dubious. However, in politics things are different: you dont always need to change the rules to act. If it is clear the press and public really don't like something, that requires a political response as well, to avoid electoral damage. It may not be fair under the rules but it cant be easily ignored..
Post edited at 09:33
 Mike Stretford 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

>

> The tide of public despair isnt a fevered witchhunt coordinated by the press it's more a genuine disgust with the behaviour around expenses in politics that the press take advantage of to sell papers.exploitation of rules by their MPs

I think it is in this case. Looking at this thread and listening to people, the press has created this impression that these expense claims were after the scandal, without actually ever saying so, as that would clearly be wrong (they're good at that sort of thing).

I don't buy this myth that us public are all salt of the earth honest types while MPs are our corrupt overlords. There was a culture of generous expenses in lieu of salary increases. It was unwise and came to an abrupt end, but I think it right that a line was drawn... I'd much rather our MPs got on with governing the country.

To be honest I'd say most of the anti-political feeling is because the good times are over.
KevinD 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> There's quite a margin between sticking to the rules and exemplary moral behaviour. We can insist on the former but only hope for the latter.

Depends if the people in question also get to set the rules.
 Offwidth 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Mike Stretford:

I'm more positive. Recessions distract attention and increase the bunfights but we live in a time of change in how people interact with elected officials. Potential for public scrutiny on detail has never been so strong and charities have exploited this as a counter pressure to more conventional vested interest lobbys, alongside the rise of new popularist internet pressure groups like 38 degrees; all very interesting. Of course those in power resent this interference and are trying to tighten legislation but with less success than they would like. Another very positive point is the mass repayment of unfair claims and legal action against serious abuse by MP's and Lords. I understand there are risks and that things could go the other way: worst case it's never been easier to implement 1984 style control, if a serious enough crisis came along. Also watched the spy thriller page 8 last night which helped my medium term optimism
In reply to Offwidth:
> As such her recent behaviour has contributed hugely to her current problems. Clearer cooperation and more gushing apologies (meant or not) would probably mean we would not be talking about this now.

Definitely. Her main offence seems to be that she was inappropriately legalistic. I don't even know if she is a lawyer but she does seem to have got everyone's backs up by her rather brusque response, which is obviously at least inept in an elected politician.

I'd need to know a lot more about her than I care to find out before I inferred from this that she's unbelievably pompous and overbearing in general, or alternatively that she's extremely busy and ruthlessly efficient in dealing with trivia.
In reply to dissonance:
> (In reply to Dave Garnett)
>
> [...]
>
> Depends if the people in question also get to set the rules.

Well, at least the rules they set are open to public scrutiny, and MPs are answerable at the next election. Unless you think that they are all as bad as each other and that even idealistic candidates are instantly corrupted on the day they are elected.
 Offwidth 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Dave Garnett:
I thought it was pretty clear she broke the spirit of the new regs and that was politcally very dangerous even if her response had been full cooperation and abject apology, given the current climate. I don't think it matters here what she is like as a person as lots of basically good people in unusual circumstances do bad things. The recommendations to the committee were quite a bit harsher than the eventual ruling and I'm not at all clear yet what these extra details were that came to light to to inform this...including silence from the lay members we all trusted to stop MP's being too soft on each other.. MPs who stood again all knew what was expected, as annoyed as many were with the conflict with strict legalistic concerns: the new arrangements arose out of political neccesity driven by an agressive press and often angry and largely despairing electorate. The electorate expect better than this, especially from ministers and expected a system that could act as soon as possible rather than waiting to inflict next election defeats.
Post edited at 11:30
 Mike Stretford 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

> I thought it was pretty clear she broke the spirit of the new regs

True, but do you think it's a good idea to retrospectively apply the new regs to expense claims before the new regs were drawn up. The whole expense thing could drag on for years, when like I've said before, I'd prefer MPs to run the country.
 Offwidth 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Mike Stretford:

Yes. Its not normal but then neither was the level of the abuse. Also in other parts of our system judged more on balance of doubt, like industrial tribunals, evasive behaviour does more explicitly influence decisions. If we dont make them behave better even more time gets wasted in the long, term.
 Babika 08 Apr 2014
In reply to gd303uk:

> All is not lost.


This article is brilliant! Thanks for sharing it

This thread on the other hand is beginning to wear thin. About 90% seem to agree but jcm, MM and the Prime Minister seem determinedly camped in the opposite corner.

Sporting those it is teasing each other - shall we agree to differ?
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

>So you are saying that most MP's come from a privileged elite?

I didn't say privileged. I'd damned well hope they come from an elite in terms of competence, though; wouldn't you?

jcm
Jim C 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to johncoxmysteriously) People dont queue up to do terrible >
> This stuff about ISAs is nonsense as they are a specific tax advantage designed to be used. Tax evaders exploit legal loopholes and that is what pisses off the population albeit clearly not as much as the exploitation of rules by their MPs

Well we will see if she 'avoids' tax on the reported 1 Million profit (capital gain) she apparently made by the sale of the second home that the Taxpayer largely paid for.
There was a question that she may have flipped her second home to avoid that.

Either way, even if she does pay a percentage of the reported huge gain, she will have made a tidy amount on the deal.
(which is not what 'out of pocket' expenses are supposed to do)

A gain like this is similar to the Airmiles scam, where plane tickets are not paid out of an individuals own pocket, but the resultant airmiles are kept by them, and NOT then put into a pot to offset future 'expense' trips.

Expenses are 'out of pocket reimbursments, not oppertunities to make money from your employer.



 galpinos 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Rob Naylor)
>
> [...]
>
> They are paid less than any GP

Basic pay for a salaried GP starts at £54,319
Basic pay for an MP starts at £66,396

(Basic pay for a consultant starts at £75,249 for what it's worth....)
Jim C 08 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
> (In reply to Duncan Bourne)
>
I'd damned well hope they come from an elite in terms of competence, though; wouldn't you?
>
> jcm

Which brings us back to others in similarly paid professions, having to show a competence in that discipline. Teachers, Lawyers, etc.
(But for some reason not MP's or their spouces !
Some of which they are allowed to pay another £50K a year with taxpayers money, with NO checks on competence, or open interviews or public scrutiny)

In reply to Jim C:
> (In reply to johncoxmysteriously)

> Which brings us back to others in similarly paid professions, having to show a competence in that discipline. Teachers, Lawyers, etc.

How many of them have to reapply for their own job, (with a real chance of not getting it) every 5 years?
In reply to Mick Ward:

> My GP told me, "Men don't die of prostrate cancer," and couldn't be arsed(!) to examine me. Hmm... interesting. What's she worth - a lawsuit for negligence?

That's terrible; I wouldn't take it lying down...

IGMC
In reply to captain paranoia:
> (In reply to Mick Ward)
>
> [...]
>
> That's terrible; I wouldn't take it lying down...
>
> IGMC

Yes, I noticed that. I was going to say that men don't die of prostrate cancer, but they are prone to it.
 Offwidth 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Dave Garnett:

The pension is set to take this into account and most slip easily enough into other jobs if they want one (or go to the lords or some position in a quango or the EU). So no sympathy there from me I'm afraid. As I've said in a few threads before now I am in a minority being sympathtic about increases in pay and research support but would prefer changes to wait for more improvements in behavior and tighter rules about what they can do after they leave.
 Carolyn 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

> and most slip easily enough into other jobs if they want one (or go to the lords or some position in a quango or the EU).

I don't dispute that happens. However, if you want MPs/Cabinet members from a broader background, it's potentially a barrier. Your average Eton and Oxford educated bloke is so brimming with self confidence that they assume they'll glide into another high profile and well paid role with no difficulty. But it's a bit off putting to many other intelligent and well educated folk who prefer a clearer structure - or who actually need a regualar income to support a family.

I'd suspect the over-representation of those with an expensive education has as much to do with things like this, and the delights of adversarial party politics (which I can quite enjoy, but don't necessarily consider an effective way to solve the country's problems) as it does on the old boys only wanting to play with their friends.

(Sorry, I'm at work - and actually have stuff I should be doing - so not the most coherent of replies).


 FesteringSore 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

A simple question: Is the behaviour of some MPs any different to that of "benefit cheats"

In a word, NO
 Offwidth 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Carolyn:

Yet a good deal of the current problem with background is that it is worse than normal as we have a particuar problem currently with how conservatives are selected, as illustrated by the deslection of the only female tory MP in Yorkshire quite recently. Plenty of candidates for labour take the risk you describe (alongside their own richer oxbridge set) and even more do in the Welsh and Scottish Parliaments. Then think of the Green party (ok so election is unlikely but decades of campaigning for a cause they believe in usually on pretty low income is impressive dedication that puts some other parties to shame).
 Carolyn 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

There's not just the one method for selecting Tory candidates though, is there?

Penrith and the Border certainly had an open primary to choose their last candidate (mind you, they still chose a candidate - now MP - who was educated at Eton & Oxford), though I've no idea how common that it, or whose decision it is (presumably up to the local party?). I've never paid huge attention to the structure of the political parties themselves, I'm afraid.
 Duncan Bourne 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Carolyn:

Hi Carolyn I appreciate that and that is why I would do it. I was merely replying to John's claim that it was a terrible job. If there was no reward then no one would do it.
 Duncan Bourne 08 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

I would hope that in a democracy that they represented a broad spectrum of the population. You were saying that being a politician was a terrible job compared to their usual job. Given that for the majority of the population it would be a pretty damn good job I drew the conclusion that you believed that most politicians were on better than average salaries.

This of course isn't actually the case of the politicians I know one is unemployed (except for being a politician), one is a retired potbank worker and the other two are semi-retired teachers
Jim C 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Dave Garnett:


> How many of them have to reapply for their own job, (with a real chance of not getting it) every 5 years?

Fair point, Dave but I would like to see some kind of basic competence test to let them be allowed to stand as a candidate.
( although, that might put off the MRLP , that I used to like, )
 Carolyn 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

How many people are actually queuing up to do it, though? Locally, I have no idea when it comes to MPs rather than local councillors (far too few decent candidates) - but I suspect if we were overrun with strong candidates, a couple of our current ones wouldn't last long.

Personally, it's a job I'd consider, but (1) not whilst I still had a young family and (2) I'd still have reservations about the media's delight in creating scandals for the sake of selling papers. I suspect public school self confidence is a distinct bonus there (if not when it comes to really listening to your constituents).
 Duncan Bourne 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Carolyn:

As folks point out it is poor job security so those with families may be put off. Also it seems to be something that folk get into early (ie at college). I also think that you have to do a fair bit of party/community work before you get to the electable stage.
Just because people aren't queuing up for it doesn't mean that it isn't a job some seek to do and enjoy.
In reply to Jim C:

>Expenses are 'out of pocket reimbursments, not oppertunities to make money from your employer.

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, as they say.

In other words, it doesn't matter what you call them. If your salary package includes the right to buy a second home and have the mortgage paid, as MPs' salary package traditionally has, then it doesn't matter whether you call it expenses or bananas. It's still an opportunity to make money out of your employer - that's what remuneration for your employment is, after all.

jcm
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

>This of course isn't actually the case of the politicians I know one is unemployed (except for being a politician), one is a retired potbank worker and the other two are semi-retired teachers

MPs, or local councillors?

jcm
 Carolyn 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

Sure, job security is a potential issue, but equally, there's a lot of working away from home, weekend work in constituencies, generally mad and unpredictable working patterns that are hard to book childcare around, and sheer volume of work if you're going to do a half decent job.

I appreciate that's much the same with many other top professional jobs - almost all of which you find women under-represented in. In many ways, I think jcm's comment that taking 5 years out of your professional life to me an MP will have a seriously detrimental effect on your career (I paraphrase - can't be bothered to scroll back up to find his actual words, sorry) the most concerning bit. That's the situation you need to get beyond if you want to see more women in top jobs; sure, you may not be able to take 5 years out whilst kids are young and expect to walk straight back in where you left - but neither are you likely to have lost skills or knowledge to the extent that you can't catch up again reasonably quickly. Given no one's likely to retire at 60 any more, 5 years out (or at least, not working at the pace of a young single professional) in the middle shouldn't be a huge issue.
 gd303uk 08 Apr 2014
In reply to Babika:

your welcome
 Duncan Bourne 08 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

The potbank worker was Lord Mayor so I guess that makes him a councillor
 Rob Naylor 09 Apr 2014
In reply to Dave Garnett:

>

> How many of them have to reapply for their own job, (with a real chance of not getting it) every 5 years?

Dunno about teachers or lawyers, but many people in both public and private sector jobs are, these days, under constant worry about their jobs. Companies are forever merging, closing, rationalising and re-structuring. Very few people have truly secure jobs, even though they don't necessarily have to re-apply for them formally at regular intervals.
Jim C 09 Apr 2014
In reply to Rob Naylor:

Companies are forever merging, closing, rationalising and re-structuring. Very few people have truly secure jobs, even though they don't necessarily have to re-apply for them formally at regular intervals.

It does happen as you say:-

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/businessclub/management-advice/10236216/Making-staff-reapply-for-...
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

Resigned. Result.
OP Yanis Nayu 09 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

She's resigned.
 Greenbanks 09 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

With the usual caveats and banalities: "...so as not to distract from the vital work of this governmenent"...and Cameron's usual line about 'being welcomed back' etc

Resignation, yes. But not a hint of being contrite.
 Offwidth 09 Apr 2014
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

Her resignation speech was the apology. She is done for now in terms of higher office as an MP and it will be very interesting to see if she is deselected by her local party (Cameron's words are as much to do with that as his annoyance that he has lost an able female minister) or voted out by the electorate.
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):
I've not followed this so don't know the details 0f what she did or didn't do. However:

Questions:
Are we genuinely going to be better governed as a result of this, or will the promotion of a less experienced or capable person do more damage than keeping a apparently competent minister who may or may not have done something wrong?
After Levenson, Plebgate etc. are we really confident that the press is a more reliable judge of wrongdoing than a committee of MPs and others?
Post edited at 08:47
In reply to MG:

> Are we genuinely going to be better governed as a result of this, or will the promotion of a less experienced or capable person do more damage than keeping a apparently competent minister who may or may not have done something wrong?


and a female one at that! Time for women only selection lists
 Doug 09 Apr 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

> Her resignation speech was the apology. She is done for now in terms of higher office as an MP

Well Mandelson came back, & no doubt many others I've forgotten about. is this really the end of her political career or just a short pause ? (the Tories don't have many woman MPs)

 Offwidth 09 Apr 2014
In reply to Doug:
Mandelson was a 'king maker' in his party (you think Maria is?) and would never have handled things the way she did. Press and people are asking where is the regret for her actions... the impression is she is just protecting the party ....by damaging the PM and their electoral chance for the euro elections (imagine how those conservative candidates who just lose to UKIP will feel).
Post edited at 09:08
 tony 09 Apr 2014
In reply to Doug:

> Well Mandelson came back, & no doubt many others I've forgotten about.

David Laws, currently an Education Minister, was bounced into resignation within 17 days of the formation of the Coalition government over expenses issues, and was back in government in 2012. By no coincidence whatsoever I'm sure, it was the Telegraph which exposed his expenses misdemeanours.
 Martin W 09 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

> She's resigned.

That was pretty much guaranteed to happen sooner or later: it seems to be the inevitable consequence of having Call Me Dave publicly state that you have his full confidence and support.
 Offwidth 09 Apr 2014
In reply to tony:

The man they owed for helping put the coalition together and had hardly pissed off the majority of MP's in his government. He was guilty of what would have been a legitimate rent claim if his landlord didn't happen to be his boyfriend, arguably no one made financial gain as he could have rented to someone else but they did use taxpayers money to make their domestic arrangements easier and help keep his relationship out of the news; which backfired spectacularly and was clearly against the rules. He also went without being obviously pushed.
 tony 09 Apr 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

Everyone can be made out to be a special case. The fact that Maria Miller is a rare thing in the Conservative Party - a woman deemed capable of holding a Cabinet position - can make her a special case. Writing her off now seems a little premature. Not that I care particularly.
 Mike Stretford 09 Apr 2014
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

> Resigned. Result.

If you're happy with the Telegraph and friends running the country is sure is

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/2014/apr/09/maria-miller-resignation-expenses-media-commons
Chesher cat 09 Apr 2014
Well there goes Camerons wish to get more women in the cabinet. She broke the law and stole so has done the right thing and resigned, took her time though.

 Doug 09 Apr 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

> Mandelson was a 'king maker' in his party (you think Maria is?) and would never have handled things the way she did. Press and people are asking where is the regret for her actions... the impression is she is just protecting the party ....by damaging the PM and their electoral chance for the euro elections (imagine how those conservative candidates who just lose to UKIP will feel).

Just seen this in the Guardian
"But on Wednesday morning, with the row entering its seventh day, her resignation was accepted by Cameron, who told Miller he was sad at the circumstances of her departure and hoped she could make a return "in due course"."
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/apr/09/maria-miller-resigns-as-culture-secretary-over-expen...

Sounds like an opening...
 toad 09 Apr 2014
In reply to Mike Stretford:

The Barclays are quite literally supporting Nigel Farage! They paid for his back op after the plane crash...
 toad 09 Apr 2014
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

And another male banker in the cabinet, though I don't think anyone can accuse him of being another Eaton old school tie

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sajid_Javid
In reply to Chesher cat:

>She broke the law and stole

Nonsense.

Dear God, the power of the press. It's truly incredible the lies they can get people like you to believe.

jcm
Jim C 09 Apr 2014
In reply to toad:
> (In reply to Submit to Gravity)
>
> And another male banker in the cabinet, though I don't think anyone can accuse him of being another Eaton old school tie
>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sajid_Javid

He must love this expenses lark, he keeps getting promoted for just being clean (or not caught) , and slotting in when others get the boot.

On 28 May 2009, the MP for Bromsgrove, Julie Kirkbride, announced that she would be standing down as an MP at the next General Election in the light of the expenses scandal. After a selection contest held by the Bromsgrove Conservative Association on 6 February 2010, in which he received over 70% of the votes cast by its members, Javid was announced as the Conservative candidate in the 2010 general election. In the election held on 6 May 2010, Javid received 22,558 votes (43.7%) with a majority of 11,308.[


Jim C 09 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
> (In reply to Chesher cat)
>
> >She broke the law and stole
>
> Nonsense.
>
> Dear God, the power of the press. It's truly incredible the lies they can get people like you to believe.
>
> jcm

As yet undecided , the police were asked to investigate, so it might be true that she broke the criminal law, but that has not been fully investigated yet by the appropriate body with a knowledge of the criminal law.
(the Standards committee do not have these powers or knowledge to come to any conclusion)

"Labour sought to maintain the pressure on Miller as Thomas Docherty, the MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, wrote to the Metropolitan police calling for an investigation into Miller's expenses. ...I believe the Metropolitan police are the appropriate body to carry out such an investigation."


http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/apr/04/maria-miller-expenses-claims-referred-police-labour-...

In reply to Jim C:

Yes, well Thomas Docherty is a poisonous little twerp, isn’t he? The commissioner found there’d been no fraudulent claim. Given that the only qualified person so far to have considered the matter thought that, it’s reasonable at this stage, I’d have thought, to say that there’s absolutely f*ck-all reason to think that anything remotely criminal has occurred.

If every contractual overclaim were to be deemed fraudulent, y’know, the world would be a strange place. There wouldn’t be a builder in the country outside prison, for a start.

jcm
OP Yanis Nayu 09 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

And no-one to build the new prisons...
 Chris the Tall 09 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> The commissioner found there&#146;d been no fraudulent claim. Given that the only qualified person so far to have considered the matter thought that, it&#146;s reasonable at this stage, I&#146;d have thought, to say that there&#146;s absolutely f*ck-all reason to think that anything remotely criminal has occurred.

Not entirely sure about the facts or the rules, but isn't there a question over whether her parents were living there, and that she wasn't? I'd imagine that is beyond the investigative powers of the commissioner.

It seems to me that she upped her mortgage to the max on becoming an MP so as to claim as much as she could, and did so on a property she didn't need or use very much. Whether that is fraudulent or simply downright immoral remains to be established.
KevinD 09 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
> (In reply to Jim C)
>
> Yes, well Thomas Docherty is a poisonous little twerp, isn’t he? The commissioner found there’d been no fraudulent claim. Given that the only qualified person so far to have considered the matter thought that

a)Does the commissioner decide on likelihood of criminal guilt.
b)since the MPs overrode most of what that qualified person thought why not let the cops have a go too?
In reply to dissonance:

> a)Does the commissioner decide on likelihood of criminal guilt.

What a strange question. The standard of criminal liability is far stronger, of course. It’s inconceivable that the commissioner could find no dishonest intent and a criminal court find fraud on the same facts (well, unless the commissioner was simply way off beam for whatever reason).

> b)since the MPs overrode most of what that qualified person thought why not let the cops have a go too?

Well, why not? After all, I’m sure the police have nothing better to do with their time. I do remind you, *again*, that the commissioner has issued a joint statement with the chairman of the committee saying that the committee’s decision was made in the light of having information available to it which was not available to her, so that for you to talk of the committee ‘overriding’ her decision is fatuous rhetoric on your part. Your desire to be outraged is outweighing your respect for the facts.

jcm


KevinD 09 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> Well, why not? After all, I’m sure the police have nothing better to do with their time. I do remind you, *again*, that the commissioner has issued a joint statement with the chairman of the committee saying that the committee’s decision was made in the light of having information available to it which was not available to her, so that for you to talk of the committee ‘overriding’ her decision is fatuous rhetoric on your part.

If you read the statement though there is no comment that she then reviewed those documents and agreed with the committee decision, simply that thats what they did.
So we have a scenario where, as you say, the only qualified person didnt have access to apparently vital documents. Logic would suggest it should be referred back to them for review rather than left to the committee.

Whilst you are busy referring to that statement how about you read the bit about not cooperating. Which these new documents only reinforces. A year investigation and suddenly they come to light once it finishes? Remarkably convenient.
Problem is we have a review carried out by someone who has one hand tied behind their back. Hence why it cannot be considered complete without someone who a)has the right to demand answers and b)doesnt need to worry about threats.

 Tony the Blade 09 Apr 2014

I she she's done the only thing she could have... resigned.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26951464
 Chris the Tall 09 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> that the commissioner has issued a joint statement with the chairman of the committee saying that the committee&#146;s decision was made in the light of having information available to it which was not available to her

I believe one of the issues with Miller was that she was less than helpful to the commissioner. The discrepancy between the original sum and the revised figure was that the former was based on the original mortgage of £215K and the latter on "lets see how much money I can make" mortgage of £525K.

> It’s inconceivable that the commissioner could find no dishonest intent and a criminal court find fraud on the same facts

On the other hand one would expect the police to be able to investigate more thoroughly than the commissioner was able to
contrariousjim 09 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> Undoubtedly this had the result that MPs were seen to be getting over-generous treatment and it was stopped. However, to portray MPs who took advantage of this as dishonest or unethical is just utter bollocks.

Why not?! Behaviour according to law does not necessarily = ethical behaviour! Behaviour according to appreciated moral standards, especially after the fact of the majority view on MPs expenses, does far more = ethical behaviour!
 Babika 09 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> If every contractual overclaim were to be deemed fraudulent, y&#146;know, the world would be a strange place.

What an odd comment - are you condoning overclaims?

And why is a different tack taken over benefit overclaim as there is to ministerial expenses overclaim if "we're all in it together"?



In reply to Chris the Tall:

>I believe one of the issues with Miller was that she was less than helpful to the commissioner.

Yes, she sent her 'frosty' letters apparently drafted by some inept professional colleague of mine (in the broad sense). Based on what I've seen in the press there was precious little in that and anyway she was rather getting blamed for her solicitor’s faults. And, as I’ve said, it’s hard to blame her for being irritated about requests for information – you know how tiresome it is digging out financial information from fifteen years ago, specially when once that information was to hand it demonstrated that the allegations the press had made against her were to a large degree false.

Basically, she’s falling foul of the extraordinary wave of hysteria the press have succeeded in whipping up about the fact that for decades the parliamentary expenses system was seen by everyone involved as part of the emoluments of an MP. There isn’t in principle anything wrong with that, and as I’ve said, it was extremely well known to anyone who knows anything at all about public life, but the press have succeeded in exploiting for their own purposes the fact that it wasn’t as well-known as I would have thought.

I don’t doubt for a moment that MM’s aide was right and that MM was targeted because of her role in implementing Leveson, and indeed that the anti-MP campaign started by the Telegraph in 2009 was all part of the press regulation war, or at least the present battle in that war. It’s important the press don’t win that war, which is why some sort of sense of proportion in the public with regard to MM would be desirable. Not that there’s any prospect of getting it, of course.
jcm
contrariousjim 09 Apr 2014
In reply to MG:

> Are we genuinely going to be better governed as a result of this, or will the promotion of a less experienced or capable person do more damage than keeping a apparently competent minister who may or may not have done something wrong?
> After Levenson, Plebgate etc. are we really confident that the press is a more reliable judge of wrongdoing than a committee of MPs and others?

I'd ask a different question. Would political representatives inspire more faith, and less cynicism, if they stuck in tone to a standard of behaviour as suggested by Betty Boothroyd in last night's BBC pm programme that it's a matter of honour and morality, and the reputation of parliament. In my view its the prevalence of a laissez-faire postmodern contempt for ideas like truth, morality, honour, which are treated with obvious disdain and contempt by much of the political class. Peter Oborne has harped on about this on and off for years, and he's right.
In reply to Babika:

For goodness' sake, saying that something is not 'fraudulent' is not 'condoning' it.

>And why is a different tack taken over benefit overclaim as there is to ministerial expenses overclaim if "we're all in it together"?

It isn't.

Benefit claims are rejected all the time without a suggestion of fraud. If people say their disability prevents them from working and the relevant authorities hold that they could in fact work, no question of fraud arises. The question of fraud only arises when what they’ve said is demonstrably untrue, as in people whose back condition prevents them from undertaking any work whatsoever who are filmed playing football for hours, or people who make claims based on imaginary tenants or addresses, or whatever.

Contractual claims based on true facts but one interpretation of the contract as opposed to another are a different thing entirely. Any time any business party has a contractual claim, the tendency is to put it at its highest and see what happens.

I can’t believe you can’t see that for yourself. Honestly, I do wonder how you people manage to have so little experience of the world that some of these things need to be explained to you. The public at large has just completely lost its reason about this.

jcm
 Babika 09 Apr 2014
In reply to contrariousjim:

Hear hear.

Fortunately in my 30 years of public service I'm come across many ordinary folk who live by this simple moral creed.

I think that's why we're all so pissed off that MPs take a different view!

Only a completely disengaged individual would fail to understand that public view
In reply to contrariousjim:

So you're answer to my second question is "yes"? Otherwise how can you be so sure all your high-minded concepts weren't adhered to? JCM has given a pretty robust defence of her behaviour on the basis of what is available. I simply don't know whether she should have gone or not but I am pretty certain the press could have made practically anyone look as bad or worse had they chosen to, and it is rather convenient for them given her role in post-Levenson press regulation.
 Babika 09 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

You have clearly never worked with benefit fraud overclaims!

The disability issue virtually never arises -only a person reading the press would imagine this is the usual source of overclaim
In reply to contrariousjim:

>In my view its the prevalence of a laissez-faire postmodern contempt for ideas like truth, morality, honour, which are treated with obvious disdain and contempt by much of the political class

Truth is a different question. The trouble with truth is that it's ineffective in political debate. Much more effective is the big lie (at the right time), and if not that then at least the small lie and the unspoken truth (witness the press' success on the present occasion). Nuanced and honest debate is simply hopeless in a democracy.

As to morality and honour in their personal lives, Peter Oborne’s rantings would be funny if he didn’t have a platform which apparently influences some people. I wonder how the Telegraph would fare if all its journalists had their expenses claims for the last fifteen years scrutinised and lost their job if there were any overclaims, and indeed how we would all do if anyone who had ever paid a builder, cleaner or childminder in cash were prosecuted.

jcm
In reply to contrariousjim:

Just as a thought, have all your expense claims always been "wholly, exclusively and necessarily" made? Have you ever, for example, taken in any sights while travelling with work? How would you deal with a week of headlines condemning you for it?
In reply to Babika:

I haven't, you're right, but it was just an example. The principle is the same - overclaims arising out of lies are fraud; ones arising out of differing interpretations of the regulations are not.

jcm
contrariousjim 09 Apr 2014
In reply to MG:

> So you're answer to my second question is "yes"? Otherwise how can you be so sure all your high-minded concepts weren't adhered to? JCM has given a pretty robust defence of her behaviour on the basis of what is available. I simply don't know whether she should have gone or not but I am pretty certain the press could have made practically anyone look as bad or worse had they chosen to, and it is rather convenient for them given her role in post-Levenson press regulation.

Then why don't they? Why don't they do that to the PM or Ed Milliband depending on which of the two it suits the media more to pursue? I don't think its true that the media can do that to anyone, and whoever it is in a hole are generally doing their own digging. As for post-Leveson press regulation, it would seem to me to be more of an own goal, as I cannot imagine how this will assist a favourable view of government toward regulation!
In reply to contrariousjim:

> it would seem to me to be more of an own goal, as I cannot imagine how this will assist a favourable view of government toward regulation!

Seriously you can't?!

Try harder.

jcm
 Offwidth 09 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously: All those plebs could be wrong or maybe its you. The breadth and depth of concern from commentators of all ' colours', who have done their homework pretty much destroys the conspiracy theory case from her aide. The public want rules to be policed and they want those caught with their pants down to be contrite when punished. So you think thats ignorant and most think its reasonable and the big majority will win as you cant hide from that in politics.

Someone pointed out that that she oversaw changes that could cause benefits to the disabled to be frozen if forms were not filled in properly..... must be made up.

There are also reports of tory party members apparently very upset with new MPs who replaced previous cheats (with promises) defending MM.
contrariousjim 09 Apr 2014
In reply to MG:

I've only claimed expenses twice for flights to a conferences during a PhD for which travel money was part of the package. Once for flights to a one day conference in London which wasn't optional. Once for a 5 day conference in France, which included a trip to Avignon programmed as part of the coach journey back to the airport.
contrariousjim 09 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

> Seriously you can't?!

> Try harder.

Oh I can see what "you" are trying to infer, but I don't think that's a likely truth, and I'm a reactionary bugger, and can't see why when increasing control has been the tendency (despite the rhetoric), it suddenly won't continue to be.

> jcm
In reply to contrariousjim:

You never travel with work or claim other expenses? OK. Imagine you do. The legally rules are very, very strict, as I quoted. I suspect probably anyone who has ever claimed (even your trips) could be painted as having broken them by the press with enough effort. So, as I said, I don't know with MM, but I am as sceptical of the press as I am of her.
 Mike Stretford 09 Apr 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

> All those plebs could be wrong or maybe its you. The breadth and depth of concern from commentators of all ' colours', who have done their homework

Like Michael White?

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/2014/apr/09/maria-miller-resignation-expenses-media-commons
contrariousjim 09 Apr 2014
In reply to MG:

I could have claimed for petrol to educational symposia from the NHS, but it comes from a limited budget which would reduce funds for others to go to educational/training events, so I've not been comfortable with it. I think the right thing for her to do was to resign her cabinet post, sort it out, apologise where an apology was necessary and come back to the cabinet in the not too distant future. Maintain honour, maintain parliamentary reputation, defuse the negative press. However, yes, I think it is right to be sceptical of the press, and I'd advocate more reporting of news, and less reporting of opinion as news, as I've discussed with you before.
In reply to contrariousjim:

> I could have claimed for petrol to educational symposia from the NHS, but it comes from a limited budget which would reduce funds

No doubt deliberately, completely missing the point.
contrariousjim 09 Apr 2014
In reply to MG:


Are your saying that everyone falsely claims expenses? If so, what happens when they get caught?
In reply to dissonance:

>If you read the statement though there is no comment that she then reviewed those documents and agreed with the committee decision, simply that thats what they did

Of course, but she wouldn't have done that if she seriously disagreed with it, I presume.

>A year investigation and suddenly they come to light once it finishes? Remarkably convenient.

Or, taking a slightly more realistic view (you ever tried forging mortgage documents?!), once the commissioner produced a report which made findings adverse to MM in the absence of whatever these documents were, MM got off her arse and produced them. Not glorious, but that’s how people behave.

You’re not wrong that the system could be better – for a start the report of the commissioner should be public, which AFAICS it isn’t. I fear though you are forgetting the three lay members and their power to issue a dissenting report. There’s precious little evidence to support the overwhelming public view that the commissioner must have been right and everyone else wrong, and a fair bit the other way.

jcm
In reply to contrariousjim:

I thought I was pretty clear. Taking the wording of the law literally, yes, pretty much everyone could be construed as falsely claiming expenses. Generally this literal interpretation isn't applied. But, if it was applied by the press with enough vigour to any individual, it would be practically impossible for them to defend themselves against it.

As an example, I have on occasion booked *cheaper* return flights for a Sunday rather than a Friday evening when travelling with work and paid personally for accommodation etc to enjoy myself over the weekend. My employer pays less, I get a good weekend, everyone wins. Except, it's probably strictly illegal or arguably so, because my expenses are no longer "wholly" to do with work. I doubt I would win an bun-fight with all the national press over this.
contrariousjim 09 Apr 2014
In reply to MG:
> I thought I was pretty clear. Taking the wording of the law literally, yes, pretty much everyone could be construed as falsely claiming expenses. Generally this literal interpretation isn't applied. But, if it was applied by the press with enough vigour to any individual, it would be practically impossible for them to defend themselves against it.

> As an example, I have on occasion booked *cheaper* return flights for a Sunday rather than a Friday evening when travelling with work and paid personally for accommodation etc to enjoy myself over the weekend. My employer pays less, I get a good weekend, everyone wins. Except, it's probably strictly illegal or arguably so, because my expenses are no longer "wholly" to do with work. I doubt I would win an bun-fight with all the national press over this.

I don't think this is about strict legality. Its about laisses-faire morality of representatives of similar behaviour to the previous scandal, strictly illegal or not, undertaken by MPs. I'm not surprised that everyone is falsely claiming expenses if that's what how our representatives behave!
Post edited at 15:49
In reply to contrariousjim:


I'm not surprised that everyone is falsely claiming expenses if that's what how our representatives behave!

If you really think that's what I said, I give up.
 owlart 09 Apr 2014
In reply to Dave Garnett:
> How many of them have to reapply for their own job, (with a real chance of not getting it) every 5 years?

I would think many people would be very happy to get offered a five-year contract, with the opportunity to reapply at the end of that five years. Many people work on one-, two- or if they're lucky three-year contracts with no idea if they'll be even able to reapply at the end or if they'll have to move on elsewhere.
 Mr Lopez 09 Apr 2014
In reply to MG:

I love a good game of analogies...

What about if i'm told to book a flight for Paris, and i book return flights via Barbados, with a transit time there of 7 days, so i book myself and my 2 aides (which just happen to be my parents) a weeks stay in a 5 star hotel. Then closer to the date i sell my package for a profit, and i take a Ryanair flight to Paris pocketing the difference.

I wouldn't be surprised if my £20,000 expenses swindle made the news, and while legally not different to your example, the level of deception, monetary value, and moral implications specially if i'm an MP and the money i'm lavishly spending is the taxpayers, would guarantee a higher degree of consequences.
contrariousjim 09 Apr 2014
In reply to MG:

Look. You want to be black and white about the analogical reference between MPs and the public. It doesn't hold because, a) the public aren't representatives or in the media eye b) she's not lost her job, she's lost a remunerated extra role c) the example you give of your strictly speaking "illegal" expenses claim would not raise an eyebrow for an MP or your employer.
 Offwidth 09 Apr 2014
In reply to Mike Stretford:
Not sure if you are placing it in agreement with my point or in contradiction. Hopefully the former given "A victory for public revulsion...." : "Miller might have saved herself....." ; " it was wrong and would have been before 2009...." etc. In fact I'd agree with pretty much all of it which I certainly cant say for all of them.
Post edited at 17:05
 Mike Stretford 09 Apr 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

> Not sure if you are placing it in agreement with my point or in contradiction. Hopefully the former given "A victory for public revulsion...." : "Miller might have saved herself....." ; " it was wrong and would have been before 2009...." etc. In fact I'd agree with pretty much all of it which I certainly cant say for all of them.

Some fine selective posting there! But if you say you agree with all of it fair enough

"But most important, it is another victory for the power of Britain's over-mighty oligarchs (media branch). Miller the Innocent, who promoted the Cameron-Miliband-Clegg deal to regulate the press through a hands-off royal charter device, has fallen victim to a combination of her own poor character and a vengeful media pack"

I take it you have reconsidered your 15:13 post referring to the "destroying a conspiracy theory".
 Duncan Bourne 09 Apr 2014
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

I am actually in broad agreement with you on the hysteria and general witch hunting that does go on. As you say how many shouting about MP expenses have paid or accepted cash-in-hand jobs, sold something without claiming for it, or "borrowed" printer paper or biros from work?
However the press reports (admittedly they could be biased) do seem to be indicating that something was amiss here beyond someone claiming legitimate expenses (ie bumping up the morgage and making a profit at taxpayers expense, which how it is coming across to me). I have no qualms about MPs claiming for things or even making a little something from those claims, but £1.5 million (as claimed) is a fair amount more than little to make out of the tax payer. I could never make that if I defaulted on my taxes for the rest of my life.
 Duncan Bourne 09 Apr 2014
In reply to Offwidth:

> He was guilty of what would have been a legitimate rent claim if his landlord didn't happen to be his boyfriend,

So are you saying that he was his landlord's rent boy?
 Offwidth 10 Apr 2014
In reply to Mike Stretford:
No, I still think irrespective of some nasty media interests the less nasty media were also asking for the same thing and the prime driver is public disgust. I'd go further and say given her area of responsibility and all those sharpened knives she had all the more reason to behave herself with the commisioner and apologise more effectively. Terrible lapses in judgement for her and the cabinet and PM who should have been helping her out, so bad that if there was a conspiricy it looks more likely the government wanted rid.
Post edited at 09:16

New Topic
This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Loading Notifications...