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Expenses controversy

Nick Robinson | 13:06 UK time, Tuesday, 28 April 2009

WARSAW: "Completely and utterly ridiculous". That was how a sleep-deprived Gordon Brown reacted in Warsaw this morning to suggestions that his handling of the controversy over MPs' expenses had not been a total triumph.

Remember that first of all, he said that this wasn't a matter for him. Then he said that it was a matter for an enquiry, after the next election. Next, he said that the enquiry should be quicker, before going on to pre-empt it with a proposal for a daily attendance allowance which was broadcast on YouTube and therefore not open to questioning either by MPs or by the media.

Finally, last night, he effectively abandoned that idea in a letter carefully released after a news conference in Islamabad and once he was protected from questioning on a flight to Warsaw.

And this morning, he said that the government would make fresh proposals by the summer, even though the chairman of the enquiry, Sir Christopher Kelly, had indicated that he won't be able to report by then.

Having said all of this, the prime minister didn't create the expenses mess and he is not solely responsible for sorting it out. All MPs share that responsibility - one which the Commons has ducked for a very long time.

What is completely ridiculous is to suggest that reform will be easy or is obvious. The issues that need to be resolved include: should MPs be allowed to use their allowance to pay a mortgage? If not, what about those who've already got them? Should they be allowed to rent or buy accommodation big enough for their families? If not, what do they do with them?

If a nightly allowance is introduced, what counts at as being at work? Attending a select committee? Having meetings at home or in Westminster? Visits abroad? Work in your constituency? Should MPs be allowed to own a property but still claim for living in another?

These are just some of the many issues that have still to be resolved. Of course, all this will be completely forgotten once the receipts from MPs' expense claims under the old rules are published in July. Had the Commons agreed to publish some information about their claims, rather than having fought Freedom of Information requests all the way in the courts, this would have been avoided.

Thus MPs find themselves the subject of widespread anger and suspicion and allegations that they are all "on the take". That is completely ridiculous - but they only have themselves to blame.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Thus MPs find themselves the subject of widespread anger and suspicion and allegations that they are all "on the take". That is completely ridiculous - but they only have themselves to blame.

    Yes, you have hit the nail on the head. We the public want them to have a system where they submit receipts for reimbursement subject to suitability and price. Private companies tend to set say mode of transport costs to pay grading - standard rail fare for medium level management and first class for directors etc.

    The accomodation issue is the crux of the matter - should an MP gain financially through buying a second home? i.e. do they then own the second home for life?

  • Comment number 2.

    I hate Gordon Brown. I really really hate him. Just the thought that he is prime minister makes my skin crawl and stomach turn.

    Even he must surely know he has got this one wrong, or he would not have performed this about turn. Why oh why can't he just admit it. His arrogance is staggering, sickening and, of course, completely without foundation.

    In the interest of balance, I have to say, I was actually very disappointed with the comments of Laurence Robertson the other day.

    Handed an open goal, and seems determined to force the Tories to knock it wide.

    What can he possibly be thinking of, whingeing that some of his pocket money (only the portions they should not have been taking anyway) is going to be taken away, at a time like this. Quote "If you ask me if I would like to be poorer, I would say no". Well of course you wouldn't, no mug would, least of all the 2m and rising who will be relying on the state due to systematic economy missmanagement perpetrated by those at the helm. He might not have directly had anything to do with it, but get some perspective for crying out loud. Private sector is cutting wages and costs accross the board, why does he think public sector should be exempt?

    This is a man who is desperately out of touch if he thinks the extent of the anger is levelled at the porn movies Smith's husband has been watching at our expense. This is about ministers treating the expenses pot as a salary "top up". We are sick of it, and you are doing yourself and your party no favours by whingeing and whining.

  • Comment number 3.

    Completely and utterly ridiculous sums up No Clue Labour and the Clown perfectly.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Nick, will any MP's found to have been fiddling their expenses be asked to resign and fight a by-election?

    In the workplace an employee found fiddling would be sacked immediately.

  • Comment number 6.

    All of this says more about Brown`s state of mind rather than a lost argument about MPs` expenses. Brown has lost a grip on reality and his performance on YouTube was excruciating. I don`t think anyone but him thought it was a good idea to do the video.

    He is now into such a mind set that no one dare argue with him or profer advice about anything. Brown is all over the place, quite literally and I think after the June elections the men in grey suits will be calling on him to step aside. His authority within in his own party is at an all time low. As soon as he was out of the country Harriet Harman came up with another of her batty ideas, which again has harmed the party. Even his Budget has alienated Labour party members.

    On Brown`s current performance there seems little chance of him leading Nulabour into the next election. I think there will be a coup in the summer with a new leader in post for the round of party conferences in the autumn. If Brown carries on as PM the conservatives and the liberals will be the winners. There is even an outside chance that labour may be pushed into third place.

    I think things are in danger of getting that dire for the party if Gordon was allowed to remain as PM. A PM can only suffer so many bad headlines, that are directly attributable to him, before he is eased aside.

    His own MPs are aware that they are on course to lose at the general election; but of course those in marginal seats would want to salvage what they can rather than suffering a total rout.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    "Thus MPs find themselves the subject of widespread anger and suspicion and allegations that they are all "on the take". That is completely ridiculous - but they only have themselves to blame."


    Nick, why is it completely ridiculous?

    Patio heaters, bath plugs, porn movies, paying for parents' house, and rumours of foregn holiday homes and helicoptor trips on expenses to come, I think our scorn is well-deserved.

    Also, why are all MPs' expenses and allowances tax-free? Why should they be?

    Simple solution, pay them more and tax them on the whole lot.

  • Comment number 9.

    International Frown's global jet set doesn't seem to be shaping up that well at all. He should have planned it better... he would be far better to consider his gap year when he gets slamdunked out of office at the next GE!

    No one cares what he thinks because he doesn't think that clearly and nothing he says has any positive affect on our lives. MP's expenses are more offensive if only for the dependence they have on them. Most have used the extra cash to reinforce their credit lines for additional mortgages and extra lines of income such as subletting etc.

    It is a bit sickening and counter-entrepreneurial. A terrible and despicable example to the rest of us (in the private sector) who have to suffer a daily grind!

    Shame on Frown and the whole party!

  • Comment number 10.

    Once again Gordon Brown has been behaving like a tin pot dictator.

    I'm exhausted by the man's propensity to operate in a world far removed from my own and, I assume, from that of millions of other voters and taxpayers. You've got to hand it to the guy. He's going to go down fighting, for go down he will. I can barely imagine what it must be like having to work in Gordon Brown's orbit these days. The man has all but lost his marbles. That YouTube nonsense was beyond parody. Here's what happens when a Prime Minister opens himself to such ridicule:

    The expenses thing is bad enough, but what we really need is to get shot of the whole lot of them and start afresh. We're now about to lose/waste a year or so mired in political bickering and posturing, whilst our economy goes to the wall. For a Government to use the Budget, in a period of almost unprecedented economic crisis, to buy time for its political objective of clinging to power is the ultimate insult to the British people. If I am anything to go by, millions of my compatriots will be incandescent with rage at how we are (not) being governed right now.

    When we desparately need leadership from an effective political elite, we find ourselves little more than controlled by incompetent political gangsters. By all means let politicians craft a new expenses policy, but surely what we really need, as a matter of urgency, is a new Goverment?

  • Comment number 11.


    GB in Pakistan has been stymied...
    GB has now been stymied in Poland with a lecture about prudence in a country economy.

    Hang on a minute didn't GB lie, sorry tell us 'we were best placed to deal with the downturn? If so, how come Poland have had 12 years growth because they controlled their economy...and we are, well, stuffed, up the creek?

    Can you ask that liability and embarrasment to the British people, just what is the truth?

    We are in desperate need of an election...this man almost single handedly has ruined this country..

  • Comment number 12.

    Yet again the BBC has missed the main story:

    Gordon Brown has ben given another ticking off by a leader about the excessive levels of borrowing and debt culture he engendered while chancellor.

    Expenses funding may be an embarrassing interlude for Gordon Brown but the main event is that no-one appears to his solution to the current crisis; to pump more debt into an economy where excess borrowing caused the problem in the first place.

    So good luck, I say. Jet off around the world tryin to look statesman-like but Gordon Brown is making himself and us look like laughing stock around the world.

    This is a preposterous situation and if there are any newlabour apologists still left out there they need to put an end to it and change their jockey.

  • Comment number 13.


    Yellowbelly, I think in Nick's defence, he is saying that the perception that ALL Ministers are on the take is ridiculous. And to be fair, he is probably right. Probably.

  • Comment number 14.

    I don't know if you wrote this piece after reading my request in the previous blog, but thank you anyway. You also managed to keep the Tories, the LibDems and the honest NuLabs out of it and you get full marks for it. You had to spoil it a little by reminding us that this problem wasn't really Superman's fault. I think we all understand that, but you would have to explain: a)where was he during the last 12 years and b)the huge cock up he has made in dealing with it now.
    Panick stricken and headless chicken seem the only words fitting the purpose.
    As for the problem itself I don't really understand why it is so complicated to deal with it in the same fashion that any private business deals with it worldwide. Travelling, lodging, catering and any other expenses strictly related to carrying out their duties should be refunded following clear criterias (regardless of HP duties, committees or whatever). The Hotel and Catering industry would benefit and there is no need whatsoever for an MP to buy (or rent) a flat in London and pay for maintenance and service.
    P.S. While writing this comment I am being notified that my request, already published on the previous topic, has been removed because out of topic. Never mind, it sounds like the moderators are having another bad day. lol

  • Comment number 15.

    GreatHayemaker - completely agree. Not fair if as a result of this review MPs are worse off? So is it fair that through a lack of competent government and, for which Cameron has already apologised, a lacklustre opposition for over a decade that the country is in recession and millions find themselves worse off? Politicians of every shade have failed us, ripped us off and they want to carry on being rewarded for failure? You couldn't make it up. Alan Duncan was laughing at us over the same issue on 'Have I got News for You'. Good to see caring Conservatism coming to the fore.

    Can we take it that as a front bench spokesperson for the Tories, Rovertson's views are Conservative policy? Cameron has 24 hours to slam this numpty before it affects his credibility. Duncan should be told to take a lie down too or at least have his TV appearances vetted - what a clown.

    And all the while the talk continues, the gravy train rolls on. Is there no party that can publish a code of conduct that the public will find acceptable? If a party reckons it knows what to do then publish its code in the press signed by all its MPs and start doing the right thing. Now. Immediately. Consensus and fine detail can be debated once most of the rot has stopped.

  • Comment number 16.

    The MP's expenses row. This is a sure sign of greed and a remoteness from reality.
    Of course the proposal for a flat rate failed because the MPs are interested in houses!

  • Comment number 17.

    I don't see the need to over complicate matters with expenses, why not subject MPs to the same guide lines the Inland Revenue subject the rest of us to.

    Anything else can be means tested with those MP's from less privalaged backgrounds still able to afford the cost of accomodation in London when away from home, along with allowing them to carry out other duties associated with being an MP without being out of pocket.

    Those MP's who have plenty of other forms of income be it through the media, 2nd jobs, non-executive directorships, after dinner speaking etc. Frankly don't need the extra money and are doing quite well enough out of there MP status without further reward.

  • Comment number 18.


    You say

    Thus MPs find themselves the subject of widespread anger and suspicion and allegations that they are all "on the take". That is completely ridiculous - but they only have themselves to blame.

    Why is it ridiculous?

    You, yourself have reported that new MPs are taken through the process of grabbing every penny going.

    The only ones who aren't 'on the take' are those who have specifically decided to decline money offered - you should be giving us a list of their names...

  • Comment number 19.

    "Having said all of this, the prime minister didn't create the expenses mess and he is not solely responsible for sorting it out."

    Agreed, but he is responsible for hiring and firing his government and thereby setting the tone for the culture he believes is acceptable. He has consistently accepted the defence that its within the rules which is just about defensible until he starts lecturing MPs on You-tube. What is indefensible is failing to take action when the rules are broken in the case of Jacqui Smith he describes it as a personal matter.

    His administration is descending into absolute farce, chasing photocalls, policy being made on the hoof, u-turns and a complete lack of direction.

  • Comment number 20.

    Moderated again!
    (Tuts and rolls eyes skyward!)
    Gordon Brown is coming to resemble a headless chicken in thought, word and deed more and more as each day passes. The Labour party must be wondering to itself whether he's just an embarrassment or, more seriously for him, a liabilty! I can't see him lasting to the end of the year.

  • Comment number 21.

    "It's not my job"
    then "I'll setup a committee to kick it into the long grass so we can ignore it"
    then "I'll announce a proposal in a way that nobody can question it"
    then "Although every rational person on the planet has said that my proposal makes no logical sense whatsoever, it's not my fault and everything's going just as I planned"

    What's next? Is he going to blame this on the Americans too?

    He's a joke.

    But he's a very damaging joke, because this unelected clown is, when not throwing childish tantrums, doing everything he can to scorch the earth economically.

    An election can't come soon enough.

  • Comment number 22.

    what constitutes a vote of no confidence in brown?

    he sets up yet another "review" - he then decides this is not going to save his skin, so he announces off the cuff, his version of a solution on youtube of all places, no questioning by mps or the media or the public, then labour, conservative, liberal, and all other MPs oppose him, if this isnt a no confidence vote, then what is?

  • Comment number 23.

    What really concerns me is the following

    "We are better placed to withstand this downturn" G Brown April 2008
    "We are better placed to cope with this pandemic" G Brown April 2009

  • Comment number 24.

    Why not just make sure all MPs have broadband, a decent computer and lessons in how to use it. Put a virtual Parliament online and make Michael Martin Mr. Moderator. There you go. No security issues, no carbon footprints, no second homes, no travel expenses. You can give even the Whips administrator privileges so they can automatically stop independent minded back benchers voting with their consciences and, if the debate gets really boring, the MPs can always do their shopping on the Tesco site or surf for adult stuff until it gets interesting again.

  • Comment number 25.

    # 10 moraymint
    Thanks for the link but I didn't find it amusing. I thought that the original performance of our great Leader had touched the bottom but it looks like there is no bottom for him

  • Comment number 26.

    " "Completely and utterly ridiculous". That was how a sleep-deprived Gordon Brown reacted in Warsaw this morning to suggestions that his handling of the controversy over MPs' expenses had not been a total triumph."

    You are saying that Gordon Brown believes that his handling of the controversy over MPs' expenses is a total triumph?

    That can't be true. It really can't.

  • Comment number 27.

    15 Thomas

    Cameron seems to be going down the line that the excessive claims are unacceptable. He has not publicly disagreed with Robinson, and I believe that he should, but it is fairly clear that he has very different opinions.

  • Comment number 28.


    You say that the idea that all MPs are on the take is ridiculous.

    I suggest you wait until the evidence is published in July. You have previously claimed that the majority of MPs are honest about their expenses but had to backtrack.

    You also forgot to mention the contradiction between Brown claiming that expenses were a matter for parliament but then even refusing to discuss his (failed) proposals with the opposition leaders before trying to impose them on parliament.

  • Comment number 29.


    You state: "Having said all of this, the prime minister didn't create the expenses mess and he is not solely responsible for sorting it out."

    Wrong on both counts I'm afraid. If Blair and then Brown had governed with a firmer hand and had sacked ministers and de-selected MP's who abused the system, then perhaps this fraud of the public purse would not have become so widespread. Instead New Labour’s minimalistic approach to financial misconduct -as exemplified by the Mandelson mortgage fiasco - was fixed from an early date i.e. only resign when forced to do so by public pressure, never out of honour, and then return to the cabinet at your earliest convenience when the public fuss has died down.

    As to the second point….Yes Brown is responsible for sorting it out! Why – because he has a Parliamentary majority and because the expense fiasco has become a satin on the body politic of this country. If as Prime Minister he can’t carry his own MP’s on such a principled matter, then clearly he has lost their respect, just as we have lost our respect for them. A man of dignity would call an immediate election – but Brown has no honour. But even now it’s not too late for him to do a deal, why not just agree to Cameron’s or Clegg’s proposals, and then put it to a vote. He should dare his MP’s to oppose him. With opposition support I think he’d prevail.

    On another topic Nick. Why haven’t you blogged from Brown’s press conference with Donald Tusk, the Polish PM. I’m sure that an impartial journalist could have a field-day with these comments from our Polish friend….

    It is not for me to comment on other countries, but the Polish government at a time of financial crisis behaved with full responsibility in terms of its public funds and the budget deficit. After a few months you can say that our economic and financial policy has been accepted both at home and abroad. The government made the assumption that the best way to deal with the problem was not to increase public spending but the availability of public finance. Effective supervision of banks and sticking to the rules, not exaggerating with living on credit – these are the most certain ways to avoid [the consequences] of financial crisis.

  • Comment number 30.

    What a tangled web we weave etc., nothing to hide nothing to fear.
    It's hard to stick to the same story when trying to cover up and we see it happening with Brown now.
    Now that the bankers are safe and well maybe there will be a little comfort for the taxpayers? No I didn't think so.

  • Comment number 31.

    #22 denzil69
    "what constitutes a vote of no confidence in brown?"

    Well, there is a petition on the 10 Downing Street website to that effect...

  • Comment number 32.

    Meanwhile back in the real world, last night's ComRes poll gave the Tories a 19 point lead. Enough to give Cameron a majority of 170 on a net gain of over 200 seats (in 1997, Blair starting from a higher base than Cameron will, gained 144 seats!) On these figures Labour would be reduced to a rump in the inner cities, the North East and the Welsh Valleys. Cabinet ministers, Darling, Smith, Murphy, Denham, Hutton and Purnell would be unemployed.

    And that's the good news. Check out Political, Mike Smithson has examined the raw data of that poll and it suggests that Labour could actually lose up to half of it's 2005 GE voters, it's the pollster's weighting which is putting them up a few points. Sub 20% result and third place for Labour next time?? Well we're allowed to dream aren't we?!

  • Comment number 33.

    Brown is like some maniacal contestant in a super market sweep. Charging around sweeping half-baked policies into his trolley in the vain hope that he will win the prize (another term in office). What crazy idea will he be championing next week?

    It would be kinder if two men in white coats took him away - if it wasn't for the fact that we would then be left to the tender mercies of Harriet Harperson. What a nightmare scenario.

    Come on Gordon, go onto Youtube again and announce that you are calling a General Election - since that seems to be your new platform to make announcements.

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    Surely the real problem here is that the leaders of all three parties are fighting their own corner, because each of them wants the kudos that they believe will follow whoever is identified as the one who resolved the problem of MPs expenses. Gordon Brown is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. Anything he says is regarded as dross; he is ridiculed from all sides. We are now being told of helicopter flights, alleged clandestine relationships, the alleged purchase of 4 flat screen tvs by one Labour MP and so on and so on. Calling an election now wont make the slightest difference to MPs expenses, which I thought was the thread here. We will all form our own opinions as to which party wins the competition for downright piggery when the receipts are published in July. I would have thought it in the interests of all the parties to be seen as keen to put an end to this money-fest before those receipts are in the public domain. Clearly, that is not the case; it is all about political point scoring as usual.

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    "Having said all of this, the prime minister didn't create the expenses mess..."

    True, he's just created another entirely unnecessary mess with his unilateral solutions.

    "...and he is not solely responsible for sorting it out."

    Small mercies.

  • Comment number 38.

    Gordon Brown is despicable. He can never, ever, ever, ever seemingly admit to an error or fault.

    Given he is generally incompetent with most things he touches, you would think that our very own Mr Magoo would find a bit of backbone once in a while and hold his hands up and say "I apologise - that didn't go well".

    There are now 23,132 people calling for brown to resign on the Downing Street petitions web-site. Is it any wonder when Brown treats the electorate with such obvious contempt?

  • Comment number 39.

    My God!

    Brown response to universal criticism, is to clap his hands over his ears and say "LA LA CAN'T HEAR YOU LA LA!"

    He is truly pathetic.

    Poor Sarah.

    Who was it who joked about her diaries?

    "Tuesday. Stayed in....Gordon Cried...."

    Brown, while you have any (dignity?) left go, please go!

  • Comment number 40.

    There is nothing wrong with the 'system'. There is something very terribly wrong with the people who use it.

  • Comment number 41.

    I think an FOI is in order now to find out how much Brown's International Grandstanding is costing us.
    As we look at the farce's over the past few weeks, regarding McPosion, Expenses, YouTube Announcements, the Budget and more, rather than dealing with problems at home, Brown's running away. He's on a plane when questions need answering, trying to promote himself Internationally.
    This is OUR money he's pouring away. Money better spent on our economy. He doing nothing for our image abroad, I'd rather see my money spent on the Royal family out promoting us than this carry on. EVERYONE knows he's a dead duck, so why is this allowed?
    It seems to me now that Brown is trying to improve his image abroad, as thats the only employment he's going to be able to secure after the next election. He is using OUR money on his image, and I think we need an FOI on the costs, so we can demand reimbursement when he secures that job offshore after the next election.
    Will he be working abroad? Of course, because he won't want to pay 50% tax on anything he managed to secure here...

  • Comment number 42.


    Does the Name Elizabeth Filkin ring any bells??

    She was, you may recall as effective as it was possible to be at curbing expense abuse.

    So much so that Nu Labour sacked.

    Brown is as responsible for this mess as is the Speaker

  • Comment number 43.

    And now the golem is in Warsaw - his carbon footprint doesn't bear thinking about, does it? I pity the Poles, some great disaster is bound to overtake their nation now.

  • Comment number 44.


    And I feel sorry for you, and you alone Sir.

    What is quoted from your #36 would appear to be an example of 'dictionary speke makes me feel important and above everyone else'.

    'Old boy', put your dictionary down and speak English.

    As for crawling skin, quite so!!

  • Comment number 45.

    Your comment that since Brown did not cause the furore over MP's expences he cannot be held responsible for sorting it out, is naive to say the least. He is Prime Minister, the responsibility is definitely his, it is his MPs who are fiddling their expences and it is his responsibility to sort it out. Maybe he considers that this problem is like the mess he has gotten the economy in , somebody elses fault. Like his incompetence dealing with the economy, his dealing with the expences problem also smacks of incompetence.

  • Comment number 46.

    #35 valdan70

    "Gordon Brown is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't." Good, I don't like him.

    "he is ridiculed from all sides." Excellent, he is ridiculous.

    "it is all about political point scoring as usual." Completely agree, is it ever about anything else?

  • Comment number 47.

    @ Nick
    "Thus MPs find themselves the subject of widespread anger and suspicion and allegations that they are all "on the take". That is completely ridiculous - but they only have themselves to blame."

    Only themselves? Political corrospondents completely innocent? MPs surely are to blame Nick, but surely you recognise your collegues have a roll in this too.

    @ Bluematter
    "There is nothing wrong with the 'system'. There is something very terribly wrong with the people who use it."

    I disagree entirely. There is something very terribly wrong with the system, most of the MPs who used it are decent hard working people. They thought what they were doing was fair. I do think, however, they were wrong, and we need to tighten up the system.

  • Comment number 48.

    All in all a sad state of affairs.

    Brown should think long and hard about the greater good, as opposed to his political ambitions.

  • Comment number 49.

    I am still waiting for Nick to tell us what answer (if any) Golem gave to the 'angry' question put to him when in Pakistan...that he found difficult to answer.

    Still waiting Nick...

    As for Golem, there is a certain sense of justice for us all, when things go wrong here, he runs away - but each time he runs now, he gets his behind kicked from those he's run to.

    He really is a liability. thankfully if he does go and we get harpie, she will inflict as much pain as golem and we can have the satisfaction of kciking zanulab into 3rd or even fourth place come the GE...if we are ever allowed one!!

  • Comment number 50.

    mmm, MPs expenses, what to say? ... quite clearly a scandal ... somebody should have a word with Thatcher and get her views ... she did, after all, set this crazy system up in the first place

    I may be developing a problem, actually - not sure whether I should share it with you but then again, I guess, why not?

    thing is that, maybe due to prolonged exposure to this blog, or maybe for some other reason entirely, I find myself now ...

    - worrying a little bit about the National Debt
    - opposing the purely symbolic 50 pc tax rate
    - fretting slightly about the public vs private pensions imbalance
    - distrusting almost all of what Gordon Brown comes out with
    - not being physically sick at the sight of David Cameron
    - feeling less than ecstatic about ID cards

    do you see the problem I'm talking about?

    you don't? - well let me spell it out then - I'm a Clear Thinking Progressive first and last, always have been, always will be - and yet, as I analyse the key issues, as I mentally sift and sort using my usual techniques, I find myself faced with a question I never thought I'd be faced with - a truly awful awful question ... am I turning into a bit of a Clown?

  • Comment number 51.

    I wasn't too worried about Mexican swine flu (after all pigs can't fly) until I read that Gordon Brown said that Britain was well placed to deal with it.

    Perhaps they can.

  • Comment number 52.

    Ref comment 36, as a Scot, I can assure you that the feelings expressed by comment 2 are not unusual in these parts. Not only are there large numbers who do hate this guy and all he stands for, but there are an even greater number who are completely embarrassed to be of the same stock as him.
    That aside some one somewhere has to have the wit and the wherewithal to make this tawdry bunch see sense and call an election. They are ruining what is left of this country and another year of the same tired sermons, blame culture, not to mention economic destruction are too much to bear. Can we start a petition on his website to get him out?

  • Comment number 53.

    come off it MP's voting on a pay cut is beyond belief and this is a typical government back peddal that was to be expected.
    greed rules the lower house and whilst they can get the money for second homes etc they will keep it in place.
    gordon browns half hearted attempt to change the system was and is a snide poke at the problem trying to keep the people and media happy whilst maintaining the income.

  • Comment number 54.

    "Having said all of this, the prime minister didn't create the expenses mess and he is not solely responsible for sorting it out."

    Perhaps not but he could have sacked Jacqui Smith and Tony McNulty thus at least giving a signal that the kind of behaviour they have indulged in is simply not acceptable.

    And after Afghanistan it seems he is now in Poland. Is he still trying to save the world or is he just running away from the reality he faces back home?

  • Comment number 55.

    GB wants MPs to declare their earnings from outside jobs, probably having a go, mainly at the Tories, and diverting attention from the excesses of some of his ministers.

    I wonder if he will be included in this, for his book writing job while being an MP and indeed the Chancellor. He will have to declare his earnings from this which must have reached at least 10 pounds by now.

  • Comment number 56.

    I agree it is totally ridiculous to say that all MPs are on the take. There are 650 odd of them, surely amongst that lot there are one or two honourable members. I wonder if Paddypower would give odds on there being 10 or less honourable MPs who are not abusing the allowances

  • Comment number 57.

    #50 Saga,

    Stop it - i'll crack a rib soon :-)

    I don't usually link disagreeing with labour policy as being a conservative supporter. I used to be a labour supporter but no longer. I'm not convinced by 'call me Dave' but i'm willing to give them a go - mostly based on the fact that they appear to be the best of the current bunch

    Some of their ideas I don't agree with but hey-ho, no political party is ever going to do everything I want!! Which is a shame 'cause i'm just brilliant and have got some cracking ideas. I propose myself for the newly created post of "Minister of Beer"

    Will anyone second me? (the post of "Minister of Fun" is open still :-)

    And to stay on topic: I agree that you can't blame Gordon for all of this, all parties have been caught with their hands in the till. However - someone needs to sort it out. I suggest we wait until the report is published and act accordingly (or is that just too sensible??)

  • Comment number 58.

    "Completely and utterly ridiculous". A pretty good description of the painful to watch youtube video and the thinking that led to it being produced in the first place.

    You are right when you say that Brown didn't create the expenses mess but he played a part in it. He was a main player in the ploy of political leaders nodding and winking in the direction of expenses when persuading MPs and ministers to accept salary constraints. Also, his reaction to the cases perceived abuses of the system by ministers was passive and inadequate - possibly because it isn't smart for glass house occupants to throw stones.

    The problem here is one of a rotten culture - where the notion is that one is doing nothing wrong to behave disgracefully within rules which facilitate disgraceful behaviour. Ministers, who should be setting an example, behave just as badly as backbench MPs - pausing only to lecture benefit cheats on the seriousness of stealing from honest taxpayers.

    Politicians complain about the cynicism of the public. They need to realise that being fed a diet of hypocrisy will have that effect on people.

    The purpose of paying MPs a decent wage and necessary expenses was to enable non-rich, non-privileged people to join the ranks of MPs. Instead the system has enabled many MPs to join the ranks of the relatively rich and privileged. An interesting comparison would be to check how by much individual MP's personal finances and lifestyle have improved as a result of becoming an MP against how much their average constituent's situation has improved in the same period.

  • Comment number 59.

    It's all a load of tripe.

    There's nothing wrong with the rules as they stand - "Expenses necessarily occured wholy in the performance of their duties"

    In other words no individual should profit. Clearly Smith & McNully are profiting. As are Brown and Darling - being provided with a taxpayers house means there are NO living expenses incurred.

    Therefor all 4 have broken the rules. Stick them in Jail. Apart from anything else the country would be a damn sight safer!

  • Comment number 60.

    Expenses video. Pakistan gaffe. Polish lessons.

    The PM is like a fairground pony, laying one steaming pat after another, for his underlings to clear up after him.

    And what is the point of having a Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs? What is the purpose of all these foreign visits?
    "Brown was in the country to mark the decision by Poland to send more troops to Afghanistan."* More important than sorting out Parliament? More important than overseeing the economy?
    "Later the prime minister will make his first visit to Auschwitz, the Nazi extermination camp."* I feel a bout of cynicism coming on here.

  • Comment number 61.

    "What is completely ridiculous is to suggest that reform will be easy or is obvious".

    But it could be.

    It won't be because those trying to enforce sense and accountability upon MPs will end up trying to please all people on all matters.

    What a shame the Government doesn't take the "*#@ you" attitude with MPs that its civil service seemingly takes with motor bike riders who lost their motorbike entitlements when they renewed driving licences and were just told either 1) you re-submit your motorbike test slip - sometimes from 20 plus years ago and sometimes previously submitted to DVLA and not returned by and actually destroyed by DVLA or 2) re-sit your test all over again.

    Oh, it's o.k. to treat the public like that, but everyone must be nice and kind and sweet to the the dear honourable members.

    Designing a workable scheme will be easy - getting the MPs to agree to it, whatever the scheme contains will be nigh on impossible. No solution is going to be 100% perfect for every case. But no-one is going to tell them to just stop whingeing and get on with it.

  • Comment number 62.

    It might be simpler, cheaper and easier to scrap expenses for MPs altogether and just pay MPs more. How much more per year could be based on their current salary plus a payment based upon the average annual expenses per MP. This would solve all discrepencies and embarrassment with regard to how much MPs were claiming and solve the problem entirely.
    Furthermore, if individual MPs have to spend more each year relative to others (eg. their constituency is further away) then their situation could be assessed at the beginning of their term in office. Their salary could then be set accordingly for the duration of their time in office.

  • Comment number 63.

    What is also completely ridiculous is to be lett off after subletting your constituency office against the rules, which Brown has done. Illegally gained income is just as bad as fiddling with expenses.

    Let's hope Brown all declared it in his tax returns prior to being found out.

  • Comment number 64.

    While I can understand the frustrations of hearing Sir Christopher Kelly making mountains out of molehills, our 'Great Leader' seems to have lost all perspective on the expenses issue, taking it personally because his troops are taking advantage of 'loopholes' that are denied to ordinary workers - his former supporters.

    Surely it cannot take up to 9 months to establish what other organisations, particularly businesses, have as policy on the subject of expenses especially when reimbursing people who have to work away from home on a regular basis. Then to select a few examples and discuss with party leaders which would best suit Parliament to avoid the so-called 'trousering'. 3 months ought to be sufficient. One set of rules for Ministers and their bag carrying MPs, and a set of rules for backbenchers.

    if you say it is complex enough times then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Media types don't need to give comfort to those in the Commons who like it just as it is. Come Nick, tell Kelly to get his skates on!

    In the meantime the PM should keep his head down on this and concentrate on sorting out his BIG mistakes to do with the economy. get a grip, for goodness sake!

  • Comment number 65.

    The sense of palpable rage in the country is frightening.The deliberate bending of rules in order to pocket cash is disgusting at any time,but particularly so at this time.To imagine the mentality of somebody who claims for an 88p plug takes a lot of doing:if the 2 DVDs had not been porn would the claim have stood?Who in the country has accepted the designation od Smith's home in Redditch as her secondary home?Conway pays his son £ sign of work done...he repays £13k and is suspended from the HofC for a short period.There appears to be no real punishment for behaviour which would lead to prosecution & dismissal in the real world.

  • Comment number 66.


    Interesting Point but not sure how it would work in practice. What I will find most galling is the fact that he will undoubtedly make a fortune on the lecture circuit and from his memoirs in the way that Tony Blair's done. What is scary is that people will pay to listen and read his rubbish. No doubt - he'll still be blaming someone else.

  • Comment number 67.

    "Having said all of this, the prime minister didn't create the expenses mess and he is not solely responsible for sorting it out. All MPs share that responsibility - one which the Commons has ducked for a very long time."

    OK, but why did he decide to "go-it-alone" on YouTube? Because he wanted it to look like he solved the expenses issue. If he really wanted to sort it out he would have taken up the offer extended by the other party leaders. Once again he has shown his arrogance and inconsistency. In PMQs he said that the matter should be down to the independent committee and low and behold he tries to save the world again.

    If they cannot sort out a decent expenses package then no wonder everything else is going to the dogs. They could not organise a very good outing to a producer of fine ales.

  • Comment number 68.

    #50. sagamix

    Actually it was only after watching the DVLA story on Watchdog that I got really rather worried indeed about the ID Cards.

    If the DVLA make such a mess of maintaining their records or, alternatively, feel they cannot rely on the information in their own records, to the degree that people have to re-sit driving tests when certain driving entitlements just "drop-off" their licenses when renewed - then what hope of the civil service maintaining all that pesonal information held within the ID card scheme, effectively and safely?

    Perhaps at some time to come, some civil servant will be demanding me to re-register my own birth because they've lost my information. Or perhaps, someone could get 'unmarried' because they've lost the paperwork sent in for the change of name?

    What is it with the civil service and handling large databases of private and sensitive information? And how come the political leadership, i.e. Gordon Brown et al, allow them to perform so poorly?

    Maybe it's Gordon's political leadership of the Government that is completely and utterly ridiculous.

  • Comment number 69.

    Expense controvery is being labelled about various matters related to government. Brown, however, has shown himself a master of matters financial. The credit crunch is reducing the need to employ Polish plumbers, and so to stop the flood of unemployed Poles returning disgruntled to Poland, Brown has produced a stopcock in the form of Polish troops to Afghanistan.

  • Comment number 70.

    I think Teflon Brown was describing himself when he said " completely and utterly ridiculous".
    Brown is not sleep-deprived just truth-deprived.

  • Comment number 71.

    It is as clear as clear can be that some (perhaps many) of our MPs are "on the make". The situation has been allowed to develop over time, just as it had (and still has, actually) with big company bosses, financiers and others in positions of power. Quite possibly,many of those who have been abusing the system have done so because they saw others doing it and getting away with it.

    You need to be something special not to allow an opportunity like that corrupt you. Unfortunately, few of our elected representatives are "something special" (in a positive sense!) when it comes to morality.

    It is time to clean out the stables, disinfect them, and start afresh.

    I suggest that the basic minimum required from our leaders (political and business) is an inate sense of common decency, one that they are prepared to live up to.

  • Comment number 72.

    Cast your minds back some years to the proceeding Prime Minister. Just before he jumped - was pushed; he embarked on a world-wide tour, all at public expense, but at no benefit whatsoever to this country.

    Think about the present encumbant of 10, Downing Street; what has been doing most of this year? He has been to America, North and South, Irag, Afghanistan and currently Poland. Where else to before May 2010?

    I know that I am probably gathering moonbeams, but if you cannot have your dreams, you have nothing.

  • Comment number 73.

    Gordon Brown'a actions over expenses summed up in the first few lines of this blog truly sum up the ineptitude of the man. He seems even more rudderless and out of control than the Major government before the 97 election. What was the phrase? "In government but not in power."

    He seems to bend with the wind, comes up with half thought out ideas which are roundly criticsed and then he back pedals before announcing it was nothing to do with him in the first place. The announcement on You Tube shows the contempt the man has for parliament and its rights and duties.

    If he was the Chief Exec of a Plc the non execs would have pushed him overboard a long time ago.

    Surely the time has come for a few labour grandees to stand up and openly call for him to go if only for the sake of the party?

    The problem seems to be that all of them seem to have a prior agenda as either Blairites or people beholden to GB for their jobs or looking to slip into his job after the next election.

    The conservatives must be grinning like Cheshire cats.

  • Comment number 74.

    And all the time the hole for the labour party grows deeper and deeper

  • Comment number 75.

    It seems pretty obvious that out of town MPs need somewhere to live while in London.

    If Brown had wanted to make a start on sorting this allowances mess, her could have first of all insisted on consistency in the rules - and focusing on whether expenses were necessarily incurred to further their work as MPs.

    I can't for the life of me see how a patio heater or white rope for the garden contributes to the performng of work.

    Still don't see how Balls/Cooper live in London with their children, but claim it's their second home, while Smith lives with her sister and claims the other house where her children live is her "second home". (The lady should be in a grace and favour residence, anyway, as she's a high profile target as the minister responsible for police and security...)

    It's amazing that Brown (and parliament collectively) has piled rule after rule on businesses, but when it comes to their remuneration and expenses, it's all done with a nod and a wink.

    Wish HMRC treated me like that!

  • Comment number 76.

    I don't know how many hits he got on U tube but it wouldn't be anywhere near those of the Daniel Hannah clip.

    It was though one of the funniest videos I've seen. The only thing missing was the costume and face makeup and not forgetting the oversized shoes.

    Very worrying to see our PM behaving in this way. He really seems to have lost it.

    However as always he seems to be in total denial that his ideas on MP's expenses are totally ridiculous.

    They will have to be sorted out soon especially when everyone knows that publishing these in July will be dynamite.

  • Comment number 77.

    Um, to return to the main point for a moment - isn't the answer very simple.

    Buy a block of flats.

    Permit each MP the use of a flat during his or her tenure.

    Provide television/ IT infrastructure/ laundering services.

    Kind of like an hotel.

    Now, wouldn't that be cheaper and easier for all?

    Or is it too simple?

  • Comment number 78.

    I wonder if GB claims for his wig on expenses?

  • Comment number 79.

    Please be aware that if you give MPs a pay rise, their generous pensions will increase as well.

    Government pensions will be funded extra to the tune of 14 billions over the next 5 years. It was a separate line in the budget, p. 238 of the budget to be precise:

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    By the way, MPs at 65,000 pounds already earn 2.5 the average gross uk salary that is just shy of 25,000. What more do you need if you really want to:
    -serve the country?
    -make an impact?
    -do something for society?
    -give something back?

    I am very sure that of the following family acts none of them are in it for the money (only joking):
    -Alexander and Alexander
    -the speaker MP and his son MSP
    -the Gould-en double act
    -Ms Booth's stepmother's selection as a candidate MP
    -Milliband and Milliband
    -McNulty and his wife the chair of an education quango
    -Kinnock, Kinnock's wife MEP and son British Council
    -Ruth Kelly and her hubby working for a local government
    -Droomey (spelling?) the labour fundraiser and his wife labour vice chair
    -Glenwoody mother and daughter
    -Benn father and son
    -Balls and Cooper (credit to Balls for not getting the chancellor job in 2007, other wise he would have ruined his career prior to us knowing he used to send up to 20 emails a day to McSmearBride (with lettuce?)).

    The public sector bandwagon highlighted above, which excludes all the employment of family members in all sorts of support jobs including rating movies, has to stop. When it becomes easy to advance oneself through the public sector, a country is in great danger.

    Thank myself for leaving the UK and not contributing to this farce!

  • Comment number 80.

    I wonder how many have seen the latest suggestion re MP's salaries?

    A 23% pay rise, no it's for real, with the economy in the state it is in with many people getting pay cuts or pay frezes and RPI below zero!

    What planet do these people live on?

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    It seems to me that on this topic as in a number of others, there is no good aspect to the issue from GB's point of view.
    Either he made a significant blunder trying to bounce the independent review by describing his proposal on Youtube (and how on earth did he decide that that was the most appropriate channel??) or he he was advised by a bunch of complete clowns, and did not have the wit to identify very bad advice when he saw it.
    Whichever it was, he hasn't just shot himself in the foot, he's machine gunned one of his legs off! If Labour are to have any chance with the electorate, GB has to go, and frankly the sooner the better..

  • Comment number 83.

    50 Sagamix,

    Labour has lost control over the press - it is like Narnia after the Ice Queen was defeated. People are starting to come out and talk openly. The media are starting to expose the truth, rather than comply with the spin doctors whims..........

    ......... keep on this path and you will see what people have been banging on about for months on this blog. Gordon is insane and making decisions that satisfy the ambitions of one person only - a certain Mr G. Brown of 10 Downing Street, whose every utterance is designed to cling to power and keep others away (whether Labour or Conservative).

  • Comment number 84.

    "sagamix wrote:
    mmm, MPs expenses, what to say? ... quite clearly a scandal ... somebody should have a word with Thatcher and get her views ... she did, after all, set this crazy system up in the first place"

    Do you mean to say that these expenses existed back in the day of the last Tory government?

    A government that was classed as "sleazy" and were constantly in the papers for one scandal or another?

    And yet even the "sleazy" Tories failed to abuse their expenses to the level of the "Whiter then white" Labour government?

  • Comment number 85.

    there was talk on Radio4 today that the best way out of this was to pay them more..... now i think they should be paid less, after all is there a shortage of candidates? No, every selection committee is inundated with would be politicians so lets pay our elected representatives the National Average Wage, that way it would be in their best interests to run the country properly. As for expenses, they should do what thousands of people in the real world do when they have to work away from home..claim for legitimate expenses incurred in the pursuance of their job and paid only with appropriate receipts... End of problem...oh and whilst we are on the subject, why does a population of 60 odd million need over 650 mp's? We could surely manage with half this number....!

  • Comment number 86.

    I'm sorry but I don't see why it's not going to be easy. It IS easy - it's just that MPs are used to having it all their own way and making large sums of money out of their jobs. In any other industry, the "company" would own a flats, and the "employee" would be put up in the flats. Lose your job, lose access to the flat. There's no way a private sector organisation would fund its employees buying houses, then let them walk off with the profits when they've failed at work... which is, after all, the reason MPs lose their jobs!

    So the answer is, let Parliament buy 500 London flats. Think of the boost to the housing market! And those properties would accrue value, so they'd make money for tax payers rather than pouring it into MPs pockets. Why is that hard? Is it simply because far too many MPs have become far too used to making money on the side?

  • Comment number 87.

    #67 said

    "If they cannot sort out a decent expenses package then no wonder everything else is going to the dogs. They could not organise a very good outing to a producer of fine ales."

    I would also add that nor could they put the ball in the net in a house occupied by women of easy virtue.

  • Comment number 88.

    Brown has been reduced to a withered, panic stricken shell of an individual with few friends he can now trust to help him out of the hole has dug for himself. He is manning a last stand on the barricades before he is completely overrun by events and is forced to flee with his tail between his legs. It won't be too long before his colleagues desert him in order to protect their own backs. He probably feels safer in Iraq than he does at home but I have little sympathy for him.

  • Comment number 89.


    You state: "The government will make fresh proposals by the summer, even though the chairman of the enquiry, Sir Christopher Kelly, had indicated that he won't be able to report by then."

    Why can't Sir Christopher Kelly report by then? We are talking about devising a system for MPs expenses. If the 'great and the good' need six months to sort out this trifling issue, then how long will it take them to sort out the economy?

    I mean why we can't just keep the second home allowance for MPs more than 90 minutes commute from Westminster. They could claim rent or mortgage tax relief on a LONDON home, up to the present maximum of 24,000 – plus utility bills and council tax. However, there would be no payments for furnishings, maintenance, domestic staff or food.

    If the MP has claimed for mortgage tax relief: Then the MP may be allowed to keep any profit from the property after they have repaid all expenses claimed for the said property (interest will also be due on the expenses, at base rate + 5%). If the profit is less than the expenses, then all the profit should be reimbursed to the taxpayer. To avoid private sales to family members etc… three independent estate agents would have to value the property and the sale price must not be lower than the average valuation; otherwise the MP will have to make up the shortfall. Again if the property falls in value, then the MP will be liable. Once an MP loses his seat, then the house must be put up for sale (with the same provisions as above). Of course, the former MP could opt to stay in the property, but again this would entail repayment of all expenses claimed on the property.

    There problem solved in about 5 minutes. My system is fair, and would allow MPs and their families (if they wished) to maintain a London home, without undue expense falling on the taxpayer. After all, house prices in the UK have traditionally been a good long-term bet, so most of the expenses will be returned to the taxpayer.

  • Comment number 90.

    Is there any chance that our inglorious leader might make his next trip one to Mexico.

    I'm sure they could do with some advice on how to save themselves from swine flu.

    Let's hope he goes without a mask.

  • Comment number 91.

    Post 88 it all sounds vaguely reminiscent of Berlin in Spring 1945.

  • Comment number 92.

    Before there can be any clearing up of expenses two people have to be sacked.The first is John Lyon,who changes his mind over what the rules mean so that he never has to make a hard decision.the second is Andrew Walker Director general of resources,he and his committee are the people who MPs refer to when they say that they were told it was alright to spend the money on anything they wanted.The fact that these ineffective people were ever given their jobs,and are still in them tells everyone how serious MPs ever were about any restraint on expenses.Andrew Walkers department must surely have the paperwork to back up or deny MPs claims that they had been cleared to spend the money on what the MP obviously though was a dodgy claim otherwise they wouldn't have had to ask.

  • Comment number 93.

    90. At 4:47pm on 28 Apr 2009, mibren wrote:
    Is there any chance that our inglorious leader might make his next trip one to Mexico.

    I'm sure they could do with some advice on how to save themselves from swine flu.

    Let's hope he goes without a mask.

    How meanspirited of you, milbren.
    Why should he need a mask, he can, like Blair walk on water.

  • Comment number 94.

    apologies, made a mistake in 79

    It should have been Dunwoody instead of Glenwoody.

    But these days I'm so concerned about postal votes owing to Glenrothes where the marked voters register went missing following a fourfold increase in postal votes. So the "Glen" was very much in my mind.

    The next general elections will be the elections decided by postal votes, decided by a race to the lowest glen of electoral standards.

  • Comment number 95.

    For too long has the impression been that Westminster is now a cash cow for serving MPs. There has been a systematic change in how these men and women do the jobs they do and in how they should be rewarded. For too long there have been initiatives to bring diversity into the house, but at what cost. When the anger of the public is quite clearly hostile to MPs lining their pockets with our money, for what can be seen as very little in return, how can the prime minister expect to change anything? This is westminster plc, just one big expenses retreat for those who believe they serve the public. There has to be a massive change in how they're paid, and how much, in relation to what they do. If these are the same people who can bring in legislation to make life harder for millions of people( 10% tax rate abolishing) whilst seeming to line their pockets, then no amount of gimmick policy announcements will assuage the public's anger. All we can hope for is determination from whoever gets into power after this lot, that the system must change.
    After all, it is for the good of the nation.

  • Comment number 96.

    Having said all of this, the prime minister didn't create the expenses mess and he is not solely responsible for sorting it out

    Nick, how do you draw this conclusion when the twit went on UTube and said he was going to sort it out. He made himself responsible because he is a political numpty.

    Thus MPs find themselves the subject of widespread anger and suspicion and allegations that they are all "on the take". That is completely ridiculous

    Is it?

    Nick, your conclusions don't bear any sort of scrutiny.

  • Comment number 97.

    Ps Mr Robinson,

    Could you urge your subs to give Cameron slightly more substantial, grown-up headers than "Thrifty Dave".

    First, I think reporters should keep some distance and not be on first-name basis with politicians or at least pretend not to be. Second, I haven't seen any headlines like "Geeky Gordon" following his youtube excursion to announce his expenses proposals.


  • Comment number 98.

    Why is this so difficult?!

    In the real world your employer would agree to provide you with a living expense allowance based on values of living in that area?

    BUT it would only cover essentials!

    So why can they not just pay a london weighting allowance and then list acceptable expenses to a maximum value?

    No wonder there is so much abuse! It's virtually encouraged under the current system.

  • Comment number 99.

    To all those who are worried about Gordon's post-political career, he will probably make a fortune re-enacting his Youtube monologue on the comedy circuit. I for one would pay good money to see him.

  • Comment number 100.

    the top ten qualities required to become (and prosper as) an MP are, in no particular order, as follows ...

    1. self confidence of the pompous variety
    2. skin of an elephant
    3. ultra competitiveness
    4. sharpness rather than intellect
    5. high energy and stamina levels
    6. love of the sound of one's own voice
    7. ability to feign empathy
    8. innate sense of who to suck up to
    9. willingness to swallow the truth
    10. advanced self promotion skills

    exactly the attributes, in other words, which pretty much guarantee success in many parts of the private sector - it follows therefore (and I kind of hate myself for saying this) that you can make a very solid case that MPs are seriously underpaid on the grounds that most of them could probably earn considerably more doing other things

    it's true, what I've just typed there ... an uncomfortable truth which ought to make us ask some serious questions about what type of people we want to hold positions of power and influence in our society

    Down with Empty Suits and Toxic Testosterone!


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