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Cheers - AE

Saturday, 9 May 2009

What is Matthew Parris taking?

Already fisked by Devils and Ambush Predators, but having already sprayed virtual popcorn everywhere when I read Matthew Parris in The Times commenting about the expenses* I thought I'd add my 2c once I'd cleaned up the mess**.
Listing housekeeping bills is a cruel demeaning of democracy. Add £30,000 to MPs' salaries and abolish all their expenses.
Sorry. Run that by me again.
Add £30,000 to MPs' salaries and abolish all their expenses.
Weeeeeeell, I'll give Parris something - a lot of people will agree with half of that. And to kick off with abolishing all expenses does seem to remove any possibility of abuse, but you'll have a fucking hard time selling what amounts to roughly a 50% pay rise to make up for it when the reason for the change inn the first place is that they're a bunch of untrustworthy, dishonest, sticky fingered cunts. I mean, if you had an employee who was taking the piss with expense claims would your approach be to take back their company credit card and give the bastard a big fuck off pay rise? I'd suggest that if it was you'd probably be a future bankrupt and certainly a fucking mug. No one would, and I suspect that includes Matthew Parris. But as a former MP himself perhaps he has a bit of a blind spot. Still, he's not talking out of his arse all the time.
It is wrong to suggest, as some think, that MPs have felt no shame about milking the system in the way they have. Their futile attempts to thwart freedom-of-information requests spoke eloquently of their embarrassment. Morally they have tried to justify to themselves this furtive rapacity by reminding each other that if cowardly Cabinets had not kept down the levels of MPs' salaries in order to avoid unpopular headlines, there would have been no need to pump up the expenses system into the grotesque and inflated thing it has become. But that doesn't make it right, and they know it.
True, but if it's not right and everyone knows it then why the fuck are you suggesting rewarding the thieving shites with a big fucking rise? And after that brush with sense we get this:
Lilies have been gilded and shower cubicles heated, but no fortunes have been made on the back of MPs' expenses. In the end only a range of rusting barbecue sets, redundant sofas and middle-market PVC-framed conservatories stands melancholy witness...
And some nice property portfolios if not paid for at least subsidized by the taxpayer. And maintained or upgraded by the taxpayer. And furnished by the taxpayer. And for which stamp duty has been paid by the taxpayer. And which may be patrolled by security paid for by the taxpayer. Can you see where I'm going with this Matthew? Those houses were until recently worth a fortune, and still have substantial value. And despite the economic fuck up brought about by one particular bunch of dishonest shites, they and the opposing dishonest shites can look forward to those houses one day being worth a fortune again at some stage. That's the ones who were still sitting on it all when the shit hit the fan of course - the ones who'd already sold up (probably side stepping capital gains tax - and from the date on that link you'll note the current row isn't the first time it's been brought up) have already made a small fortune. It might not be in the Fred Goodwin league, but it's pretty healthy by the standard of anyone on an average UK salary. Can we get that into your head Matthew? You've already agreed that it's not right so it shouldn't be a huge leap, but no.
The latest revelations about broken lavatory seats, faux-Tudor beams, Gordon Brown's precise cleaning arrangements or rusks for an MP's toddler will be greeted by an instant barrage of indignation. “How dare they?”, people will ask. “And with our money!” But I suspect that for some readers and voters an interior voice will ask a quieter question: “How would my own monthly housekeeping expenses look, plastered across the front of a broadsheet newspaper?”
For what has been lost sight of over the past 24 hours is that what we are looking at are people's weekly housekeeping bills.
Really? Firstly Matthew, how many people do you know whose weekly shopping includes mock Tudor beams, wet rooms, TVs and all this other stuff? We're not just talking milk, eggs, veg and a few trays of sausages here. Secondly, regardless of how they may look plastered across the front page of broadsheet most people don't, indeed can't, expense their housekeeping expenses but pay for them out of THEIR FUCKING SALARIES, especially if they're getting 63 grand a year. An important difference don't you think? Oh, apparently not.
Yesterday, as it happens, I bought a bumper pack of toilet rolls from Lidl, six iced buns, a small hacksaw (£1.45), a new tap, four brass plumbing olives and some discounted sausage rolls. The sausage rolls were quite unnecessary. But you neither need nor have any right to know that, though I suppose they'll be indirectly included in the cost of your Times and your BBC licence fee.
One - did you expense them or did you buy them out of your salary? If the former then your point is well made but don't tell me that your bosses will be too happy that you've done so. If, as is almost certain, it's the latter then you're comparing apples and oranges. Two - we have no need or right because whether you paid or expensed them the cost wasn't dragged out of the taxpayers at the point of a metaphorical gun. No-one has to buy The Times if they object to you spending your money on sossy rolls, and while there's a slight issue with the Beeb and the TV licence at a push one could live without the telly (and with the shit that's on and the relatively low cost of a nice big PC monitor and broadband I'm amazed more people don't tell Auntie to go fuck herself). So there's a world of difference between what you spend your money on and what MPs spend taxpayers' money on.
Big housekeeping bills are made up from the accretion of small purchases. Listing them is inherently undignified. MPs are damned if they itemise and damned if they don't.
Why? Everyone I've worked for expected this detail on my expenses. The fucking taxman expected much the same on my returns. So what the fuck is undignified about it, and aren't they damned only because they're not spending their own salaries but those of other people? And why do you find it so hard to grasp this simple point?
I'd add £30,000 to their salaries (half of which would come straight back in tax) and abolish all their housing and living expenses.
Yes, so you said. But as I said, why deal with dishonesty by giving the dishonest a huge rise in their basic? And I take issue with the point about half the 30K coming back in tax as well. Their whole salary is paid for out of tax in the first place, so any tax they pay is theoretical anyway. You might just as well describe your proposal as a £15,000 tax free increase. But that's a side issue compared with the fucking monstrosity of a problem I have with pay rises for dishonest people, even if you do take their expenses away. It's also worth adding that for the unknown but probably small number of MPs who aren't taking the piss reimbursement of reasonable expenses is perfectly fair.
After the most almighty hoo-hah for about a week, MPs would still be paid less than many GPs and everyone would lose interest. And at a stroke we would have removed what will otherwise remain a bottomless pit of ammunition for the cheaper-minded sort of MP, for feral parliamentary candidates, for hungry journalists - and for anybody else with an itch to denigrate the honourable profession that, despite this week, politics in Britain still is.
They would be, and are, paid less than many GPs because they're worthless. Sorry, worth less, though undoubtably more than a few are worthless as well. You'd remove one problem and replace it with another - that the incompetent shower of shits would be even more overpaid. Some might actually be worth the £63,000 they get now, but some are little more than policy parroting lobby fodder. And you want them to get £93,000 a year?

Tit, but what should we expect from someone who got this opinion of Hazel Blears?

*I'm waiting for some tabloid cunt to say "expensegate", at which point I'm going to shit into an envelope and mail it to them.
**Okay, I was drinking beer while watching footy and F1.
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