Monday, 23 March 2009

McNulty Must Go

Even by the abysmally low standards we have learned to expect from New Labour, Tony McNulty's conduct must strike any impartial observer as a disgrace. This potato-faced minister - ironically, part of his remit involves tackling benefit fraud - received at least £60,000 of taxpayers' money towards a "second home" which was neither his home(it's his parents') nor necessary for his work, since his Harrow constituency is located far closer to central London than are the houses of most commuters who have to manage without such allowances. Having been found out, this most thuggish of New Labour apparatchiks has behaved with brazen disregard for the sensibilities of the voters who put him in Parliament and who he is supposed to represent.

First, he said that he acted "within the rules"; then, that the rules might need changing (why? Because they put too much temptation in his way?); then, that he "felt uncomfortable" about taking the money (though not sufficiently uncomfortable to pay it back); finally, he declared that the best way of resolving the problem caused by his own arrogance, insensitivity and crookedness is to increase MPs' basic salaries. None of these excuses amounted to an apology. And an apology, even a repayment in full, would be in any case inadequate. He should go. If he does not resign Gordon Brown should sack him. The trouble is, I suppose, that if the PM got rid of every minister found to have exploited "the rules" to their own financial benefit there might not be many left. Which would be no bad thing, of course.

There will be an inquiry. But is any inquiry really required to demonstrate that this man is a disgrace to public office, to prove beyond doubt that he is nothing more than a squalid expenses fiddler, a cheap chancer, a hypocritical sleazeball? It may be that, technically, the rules permitted him to defraud the taxpayer in the way he did - and it will be said, as a result, that the fault lies in the rules. But the rules no more forced McNulty to claim money to which he was in no way morally entitled than light touch regulation forced piratical bankers to take unconscionable risks with their customers' money.

The rules were, naively perhaps, designed on the assumption that members of Parliament were honourable men and women. Only a crook would look on a second home allowance, designed to enable MPs to maintain a presence in their constituency as well as in the centre of London, as an opportunity to swipe £18,000 a year of taxpayers' money to pay for a home not their own that they neither lived in nor needed, and which in any event cost them nothing. Only a dishonest man would behave like that. Tony McNulty, you are a dishonest man.

BTW, where's the anger? I know many Conservatives are up to their necks in expenses fiddles of their own - but why isn't the press howling with outrage? Even the blogosphere seems curiously quiescent. People are shrugging their shoulders. They shouldn't. Compared with the money poured down the drains that are RBS and HBOS, compared with the sums squandered on databases and quangoes, McNulty's ill-gotten gains may not amount to much. But neither does Fred Goodwin's pension. Of course, McNulty isn't the first politician - not even the first minister - to be caught with his hand in the public till. But a rotting fish still stinks, even if it's hidden in a can of worms. And as rotting fish go, Tony McNulty ranks alongside Damien Hirst's shark.

4 comments:

teethgritted said...

His crime in common with the bankers is that he got caught. Would his "dis-comfort" have got the better of him and would have stopped claiming? Err No.

He does have a point though about MPs pay. Imagine the hoo-hah if their pay was to rise in these times. So alternate troughs have to be found. I bet there are plenty of others.

With the government so intent on putting eryones hat-size et al on some mega database for general consumption - surely it should not be beyond the wit of man for some transparency on what our 600+ MPs are getting from us.

Neil said...

Have a look at TheyWorkForYou.com you can see each MP's voting record and claiming record. Its a start.

Neil said...

Just taken my own advice and looked up McN on the aforementioned web site.

Surprise surprise the Mail has spun the figures - "claiming around £14,000 a year" is Mail-speak for an average of just under £10,000 a year.

But hey, if the guy's got his fingers in the till does that matter? But is it as open and shut as that? He does after all own and pay the mortgage on the place in Harrow where his parents live. Perhaps the Heresiarch is having a double plus Daily Mail rant to force the chap to either sue or resign.

Anonymous said...

There wouldn't be a lampost strong enough to hold this arrogant bastard.

Resign?

He should be shot