Tony McNulty’s expenses scam is nothing new

Mar 24, 2009
Will Self

In fiddling their expenses, MPs are continuing a long tradition. The effect on our democracy of cleaning up would be incalculable

I'd quite like Tony McNulty to resign from the Government and piss off back to Harrow. I treasure a vision of the pock-faced former Brownite hatchet man mooning about the parental home like an overgrown adolescent.

No doubt from time to time one of his old parents would say to him: 'D'you know what you're going to do with your life now, Tony?' And the former minister would just shrug his shoulders and mutter, 'Dunno'.
Because 'dunno' is the McNulty watchword ­ just as it is for all the other loutish politicians who imagine they can't be seen making dubious claims on their additional expenses allowances.

The last time this issue was up for consideration, McNulty voted against it

Of course, our Tone is the most egregious of these kidults to be caught in the searchlight of publicity: not only is the parental home he claimed his 'second home' allowance for a mere nine miles from his own home in Hammersmith, it's also only 11 miles from Westminster itself.

Still, credit where credit's due, ­ Tony dunno nuffin' about that. On the contrary, caught bang to rights, he came out fighting, saying he didn't want to cast aspersions on any of his fellow fiddlers (sorry, I mean 'MPs'), but that he thought there were a number of other cases that needed to be examined. Oh, and while we were at it, the whole basis of the allowance itself needed to be overhauled.

Funny that, because the last time this issue was up for consideration, McNulty voted against it! Can we put this forgetfulness down to some surging hormone in the still-developing McNulty brain, or is it perhaps a sad indicator of the way MPs generally regard all these issues? For, if the individual MP looks like a young shaver caught trying to jemmy a condom machine, then the whole pack of them has an ugly resemblance to a teenage gang.
Here they come! Jacqui Smith with her pierced midriff showing, Alistair Darling sporting his preposterously dyed eyebrows, and McNulty ­ a perfect candidate for the Clearasil challenge if ever I saw one. They can't be accused for a second of having originated this kind of delinquency themselves, they're just following in the footsteps of other, older gang members.

MPs like to police themselves, ­ just as they like to award themselves pay rises

Because the economy with the truth runs deep in the culture of Westminster when it comes to the folding stuff ­ and, as Elizabeth Filkin discovered when she was Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, don't tell the big kids to stop playing on the swings, unless you want to end up with a rock through your picture window.

MPs like to police themselves when it comes to financial irregularities ­ just as they like to award themselves pay rises, and determine how their parties are to be funded. Even when one of them is caught shamelessly with her fingers in the till there's only a rap on the knuckles and a pathetic insistence that the dosh be paid back.

Some people may say that we've got bigger things ­ and far bigger sums ­ to be worried about, but as I always say to young people who are starting their first job: be honest with your expenses claims and then you won't feel inclined to take huge donations from non-dom multi-millionaires.

The idea that any MP should be allowed to house parents, sisters, or even dogs at the public expense is nauseating, and while clamping down on the abuses of the additional expenses allowance might only save us a couple of million a year, the effect on the maturity of our elected representatives would be incalculable.

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