Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Never mind the porn, Jacqui’s bath plug isn’t going to wash

Taxpayers being forced to pick up the bill for a government minister’s porn ... so this is what Gordon Brown meant by fiscal stimulus.

While the rest of us are left to weather the recession, in the luxuriously appointed homes of Westminster it’s all about quantative easing with MPs from all parties slurping from the expenses trough like bankers on Bolly.

These people make Fred the Shred look like a Carmelite.

Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary no less, is now said to be “mortified” that a television package she claimed for as part of her second home allowance included two blue movies.

Given that Jacqui has previously scooped around £116,000 in expenses by claiming that her main home is a back bedroom in her sister’s house, this is a woman who takes some mortifying.

The expenses claim which included the bill for the porn was submitted by her husband who just happens to be her £40,000 a year assistant. The £40,000 also comes from the taxpayer.

Ms Smith would, of course, have had to countersign the expenses form. (Doesn’t she read the papers she signs? She’s the Home Secretary. You’d assume she at least gives them a cursory glance.)

Did she notice the movies in her television package? (As with other items in her expenses claim this has to be ‘wholly, exclusively and necessarily’ a cost of her role as an MP.)

According to one newspaper report this week, it came from a selection which also included a film entitled Happy Husbands and Willing Wives. Happy Husbands and Willing Wives just about sums it up. Who questions the two washing machines, the sofa bed, the £1,000 fireplace and all those many other top-of-the-range items upon which Ms Smith has been spending taxpayers‘ cash.

Read down the list and you begin to wonder if it really is Jacqui Smith at the helm in the Home Office. Or Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. She even claimed 88p for a bath plug.

And call me weird, but it is that bath plug, more even than the porn or the posh products, that shocks and repels.

At a time when the elderly are struggling to pay their very food bills, when millions are on the dole, when hard-working business people are losing everything they have sweated for, when the Government can’t afford to provide the proper equipment for soldiers fighting in its name and when the disadvantaged and the vulnerable are being crushed by recession, a woman who is raking in a fortune in public money stoops to ask for the nation to pay for her 88p bath plug.

She isn’t the only MP who stoops so low. And New Labour isn’t the only political party mired in this muck. It infects Westminster like a virus. At the weekend one (Labour) MP spelt out the force that currently drives the people who run this country.

Greed. Shameless, insatiable greed.

So-called ‘left-winger’ Harry Cohen, who has one of highest expenses claims in Westminster, says: “When MPs were given this allowance they were told, ‘Go and spend it boys!’”

He adds with relish: “That is what I have done. It is my right.”

But it isn’t a right. It is a shocking, shameless wrong. The country is going down the tubes.

But our MPs are too busy claiming back the cost of their own bath plugs to notice or to care.

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