Thursday, May 28, 2009

After Julie

OK, OK, I know I promised not to write about expenses related stories today, but I can hardly not write about the latest news, can I?

As you might guess I am very sad that Julie Kirkbride has announced she is stepping down at the next election. Let's not bother rehearsing all the pros and cons of her case - that's been done to death on here over the past 24 hours. I have no regrets in speaking out in her defence on the blog and on the media, but it was clear yesterday where this whole saga was heading. Time after time, we've seen that where a media head of steam has built up, it's impossible to overcome it. You may think it was fully deserved in Julie's case. I happen to think there were more deserving cases for media attention than hers. But that's politics, and that's the media and there's little point in whinging about it.

So what implications does this have? I think most people will see that if MPs have to stand down for alleged impropriety there are better candidates than Julie Kirkbride. But they are still in place.

Most of my friends, and all of my family keep asking me one question: why on earth would you want to be an MP if you are treated like this? They all think I am barking mad. And increasingly, I am wondering if they might have a point. I'm no different to most people who consider going into politics. You do it for a number of reasons - partly out of a wish to perform some sort of public service, but also because you see things you think are wrong and want to change, and realise you can't do that by writing a blog. And also because you have the somewhat arrogant belief that maybe, just maybe, you could do it better than those who have made such a mess of things in the past. If you do it for the money, you really are doing it for the wrong reasons.

But think of a forty year old woman with a couple of kids, who is thinking about going into politics. Think how this episode will affect her thought process. Julie Kirkbride quit, at least in part, over her child minding arrangements. She wanted her brother to be a child minder rather than a stranger. Who wouldn't? It didn't cost the taxpayer a penny, and yet she's been made out to look as if she has fleeced the taxpayer. No woman with small children in their right mind will look at a political career if things carry on like this.

Think about that.

196 comments:

Gary said...

Ian, the childminding stuff was a smokescreen (or 'lie' if you're old fashioned), have you seen pictures of her house/mansion? Do you really think it only had two bedrooms and needed us to buy her an extension? The only thing worse than being a thieving troughing liar is hiding behind a small child when you get caught being a thieving troughing liar.

I do wonder how Hoon, Purnell and Darling are getting away with it, they just seem to be keeping their heads down and staying in the bunker. Them next I hope.

Oliver Drew said...

Interesting. Iain, I don't normally criticize your blog - after all, you can do as you please - but after saying you weren't going to defend her again you did!!!!!

Anyway. I don't know the in's and out's of the case - I've been away from News and a Computer for 2 days. If the general feeling is that she needed to go, she probably did.

Anyway, didn't both she and her husband both claim 2nd home allowances?!

You are right however, about there being more deserving MPs for our attention - 4 are in the cabinet - Jacqui Smith, Geoff Hoon, Alastair Darling and Hazel Blears...

politicalphilosopher said...

I think Janet Daley disagrees:
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/janet_daley/blog/2009/05/28/mps_expenses_julie_kirkbride_plays_the_woman_card

Maybe it will affect the decisions of many who do wish to be an MP, but being an MP requires sacrifices that most other careers don't even touch upon. If you're not willing to abide by those sacrifices, - or worse still subvert them through public money entrusted to you - then don't run for Parliament, run as a Councilor or any other locally based politics.

Anonymous said...

She got caught with her hand in the till. Maybe not against the words of the rules, but certainly against the 'strictly in the business' part of the rules.

It doesn't help to apologise for all these MPs, we just need them cleaned out as fast as possible for the good of Westminster

Anonymous said...

Most women with small children wouldn't have looked at it before the Kirkbride affair. Regrettably, the women who go into parliament tend not to be very representative of women at large. I'm not sure how you solve that one.

Anonymous said...

I happen to agree with you, Iain. That there are several MPs more deserving of the boot than JK (the Chipmunk is one, and John Butterfill), but they should get it too.

I imagine there are now many more young women with children who want to be MPs than there were before. Why? Because they are very angry about how they have been taken for a ride by so many MPs in recent years. This whole episode will bring into politics many people who were previously not interested.

Anonymous said...

This as made Cameron look weak by backing her,she should have gone weeks ago with her husband

Anonymous said...

Should the previous story have read "Can Julie survive May 28"?

Anonymous said...

"little point in whinging about it..."

Surely 'whingeing' ??

Otherwise how would you tell the difference between 'swinging' [oo er..] and 'swingeing' ??

You are not quite as bad as Guido with his 'signaled' [yeeucchh..] but give it time..

James said...

I agree that childcare is an issue for MPs (as it is for all other professional women and men). However, extending a home, any home, for whatever reason is a personal expense - end of story.

The second home should be exactly that - a home that enables an MP to work as an MP. It shouldn't be anymore than a one-bed flat and should not require huge modifications. Politicians need to understand this - and quickly.

I do agree however that media frenzy now needs to focus on others - particularly those in the Labour party who have gone to ground rather than explain themselves.

Anonymous said...

just read about a mp paying for servants quarters out of public money....shocking,this is worse than the moat and ducks.what century are these people living in..

JuliaM said...

"Most of my friends, and all of my family keep asking me one question: why on earth would you want to be an MP if you are treated like this? They all think I am barking mad. And increasingly, I am wondering if they might have a point. "

Why would you think this? Don't you trust yourself to behave honourably, and with due regard to the trust placed in you by the electorate?

"But think of a forty year old woman with a couple of kids..."

And drop the 'victim' angle. She knew what she was doing, and if she obviously decided she could trough with the big boys, who are you to decide she shouldn't face the same punishment?

Justin Hinchcliffe said...

Iain, you are wrong here. Her child care arrangement should have been paid for out of their own pockets, rather than the state's.

And employing her sister (who lives 140 miles away)? Unless it's a small family-run business, people should not employ their relatives - especially out of taxpayers' cash.

This whole affairs has damaged the Party. She should have quit weeks ago.

Agree?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Iain, but I come back to this point. If she had voted for openness and transparency all along, then the poisonous atmosphere would not have arisen and the venom would have been sucked out of this a long time ago.

By voting for secrecy this gave rise to a boil which was going to have to be lanced at some point, and rather painfully as it turns out. If what she did wasn't that wrong, it could have been justified much sooner and with far less pain.

But she, and others, made this bed and they are the ones who are going to have to lie in it.

Anonymous said...

Iain - your basic premise is flawed, as plently of MPs are not being critisiced, as their expenses are in order.

The leason is that, if you want to go into public life, you had better behave properly. If that is a surprise to anyone they have no place on the list.

Justin Hinchcliffe said...

Iain, you are wrong here. Her child care arrangement should have been paid for out of their own pockets, rather than the state's.

And employing her sister (who lives 140 miles away)? Unless it's a small family-run business, people should not employ their relatives - especially out of taxpayers' cash.

This whole affairs has damaged the Party. She should have quit weeks ago.

Agree?

JuliaM said...

"I do wonder how Hoon, Purnell and Darling are getting away with it, they just seem to be keeping their heads down and staying in the bunker."

Think of the media as predators - sharks, maybe.

There you are, the media shark, swimming along, and you come upon a big, fat school of identivally-sized tuna. None obviously fatter or a better meal than the other. Who do you target?

The tuna swimming along, trying not to draw attention to themselves, or the one flapping about and bleeding?

THAT'S why Kirkbride had to go. She stood out from the school, and made herself vulnerable.

Anonymous said...

Women with small children should not be considering a career in politics, they need to be at home looking after their children and husband.

Gareth Thomas said...

Welcome to the world many of us have lived in for a long while. As a teacher in a good secondary school, I learned on parents' evenings that teachers were always wrong. We were authority figures, so we were suspect. In the Christian church we have come to accept, in our society, that any accusation will be thrown at us because we accept an ultimate moral authority beyond our own desires. Ranting people quote the cases of stupid teachers or immoral priests, and assume that all of us are equally culpable.

Now that parliamentarians are receiving the full blast of this abuse, let us just pause to remember the way that the Conservatives set Ofsted on the teachers, and then that same flawed individual Chris Woodhead, was used by the Labour government to beat teachers even more. There was a continual loss of credibility, loss of authority, as the press (the Telegraph!) played that game. They've done the same to the Anglican church and to us Catholics: anything goes.

Now the ratpack has come home to haunt the MPs, should anyone be surprised? This has been long in the making.

Shaun said...

"over her child minding arrangements"Aww, poor diddums. And after a different MP got told off for claiming her nanny was her secretary. For shame! I mean, why shouldn't they get free childcare/home upgrades for their relatives who live with them and may run companies from their property. Bit like Moran.

I'm disappointed to hear you equivocate on behalf of such people. You do yourself no credit but I trust such 'loyalty' will be rewarded sooner or later...

Cardinal del Monte said...

It didn't cost the taxpayer a pennyWell, that is manifestly false, after the revelation about the taxpayer-financed extension. But neither Julie Kirkbride in her last-ditch argument (childcare) nor you, seemed to consider that the parents (both wealthy people) should have paid for their own childcare (which was not an allowable expense anyway), whatever the arrangements were that they had to make.

orientalsage said...

>>"No woman with small children in their right mind will look at a political career if things carry on like this."<<

Yup - good to see a man standing up for women in public life.

I think Julie was very badly advised about how to structure her allowance claims versus those of her husband. She is a victim of misfortune as much as anything - her 'crime' was to take advice from the older, more experienced hands. There may be a lesson there somewhere, but I think she was simply unlucky.

As for that trougher-extraordinaire Moran, her utterly stupid self-justification is still on YouTube and hopefully will be for a long time. It won't have the remotest effect on the miserable woman. Expect her to get a highly paid non-job in a quango or local authority. Something nice and meaningless like "Head of Service User Engagement and Communication Policy for Stakeholder Management Outreach". Just check her expense claims very carefully...

Bardirect said...

Whatever happened to the concept that it is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.

The Tories are standing down in droves now, dirtier Labour are holding out and the public perception, predictably, will be of Tory rather than Labour sleaze.

You were of course the first to put up a hostage to fortune with your stance about James Grey.

FloTom said...

Sorry being an MP is NOT a career.

As for your contention Julie Kirkbrides childminding "didn't cost the taxpayer a penny" they didnt pay for the extension to her house in anyway then?

As to you being an MP Iain. Good people are always needed to serve as MPs.

If you go into it for the money you have already failed.

If you think you can milk the system you have failed.

if you think that "only" getting £64000 pa is not enough when it puts you in the top 10% of earners you have failed.

It will be interesting after the next election when all these people are gone to see how long it takes for them to find "highly paid" jobs in the city and how many will.

Oh and I have another reason for you to stand as an MP Iain. You support an English Parliament and you country England needs you to and that is from an erstwhile Labour voter.

JoeF said...

How come all the focus is on relatively minor issues like this?

How about Blair, Brown et al claiming second home allowance for years when they had a home payed for by taxpayers already. When are Brown, Darling, etc going to repay all their claims for the last 10+ years? Or resign if still in Government?

After all if it is against the spirit to claim for a house 100 miles from constituency, or for a swimming pool, or extension, how much more against the spirit is it (and how much more money are we talking about) to have 2 houses payed for by the taxpayer!

Anonymous said...

Not strictly true that the taxpayer didn't cough up. She wanted her childminder to live in, and we paid for the room.

Harri said...

At least it has showed Cameron up for what he is, he is almost as much as a coward as Brown.

She is quite simply a corrupt politician and should have been sacked days ago, now Cameron and the Conservatives have suffered more damage, they are just floundering around without a clue on how to handle this " crisis"

Just for the record i hold no flame for any of the corrupt and self serving pigs, i simply see them for what they are and always have been and will always remain.

End of.

Bookseller said...

Not a very impressive performance on WatO. There are worse cases than hers, but not that many i hope.

The 'woman' defence was odious - Does she deserve special treatment because whe is attractive and female rather than ugly and male.

She got caught out like many others, was slow to be clear, and had weak explanations and tried to artificially distance herself from her husband for political advantage.

She could have killed the petition stone dead by getting out in her constituency last weekend.

Sad, but inevitable.

Paddy Briggs said...

Iain

She had to be a casualty. Maybe she wasn't the worst, but she was pretty bad. If there is to be closure on this whole grubby affair then something along the lines of Nick Clegg's proposals are the solution - I suspect that you leader thinks so too.

Politics is a grubby profession at times. You yourself have descended to over-personalised abuse - including of me which is why I haven't featured here for a while (heat and kitchens applies). Some of the scum rises to the top. Some politicians get to the highest offices (or shadow offices) in the land without an ounce of scruples or feeling in their bodies. I don't like Kirkbride or her well-upholstered cronies and the world of politics will be better without her. But they way to make people want to be MPs again is to clear out the dross, the time-servers, the expenses cheats and the phoneys. It will be quite an empty chamber if that happens but at least we can start again.

Anonymous said...

A bit disappointed in you over recent days Iain. You can't have it both ways and revel in the discomfort of Labour MPs, praise Cameron for a decisive approach and then complain when the tables are turned on a Tory who needs to be dragged kicking and screaming when they've been caught.

Greeley's Ghost said...

She'll be back via the Lords in due course. Read between the lines.

Classic bait and switch from Cameron.

Brummie said...

"speaking in her defence"
WTF on you on?
Shes destroyed my voting Conservative. And as for Cameron, no real action whatsoever.

People of Bromsgrove need a Bi-election. Julie standing down in a years time is a pi** take!

DMC said...

Iain

I understand what your saying but she did the right thing in standing down.

The fact is her expenses are suspect and she has lost confidence of the people.

I do think that Kirkbride is just the tip of a very large icberg and do appreciate Iain you giving the other side of the argument but she needs to go.

Anonymous said...

Didn't cost the taxpayer a penny ?
What about the extra interest we paid for the £50K extension for her brother or whoever to be able to stay and look after her child ?
And why did she claim ignorance about the second home set up of her husband. " Bitter regret" for not asking were her words today She was asked about this specifically by the BBC 2 years ago ?
The audio was on HIGNFY this week.

Chalcedon said...

You could argue that a woman with a small child or children shouldn't be considering a political career but should be looking after her children. The politics career could come later.

I do agree about those cabinet ministers still being in cabinet and no doubt will stand at the next GE. They don't go knocking on doors do they? Far too grand. this time around probably far too scared too.

norfolkandchance said...

I cannot see why the current furore should stop anyone honest from wanting to be an MP for the right reasons. If it deters chancers..who cares.

Julie Kirkbride had a week to think of excuses and, if yesterdays were the best she had, they were not nearly good enough.

Anonymous said...

Chip, please, you've got to get some kind of proof reading system into your blogs. I can't take anything you say that seriously when you spell "whingeing" as "whinging". You really are a chump.

gordon-bennett said...

Let's face it - the msm don't like the Conservatives.

That's why the concentration is on our MPs, who can be portrayed as crooked despite the facts, and not on nulab and their actual crooks.

Notice that the beeboids (in particular) made all their jibes about class matters such as duck islands and moats and ignored the blatant plundering and fraud by socialists.

A newsnight discussion panel about the issue consisted of:
* a nulab donor;
* labour peer lord hattersley;
* john strafford - an anti-Conservative campaigner.
That's the beeb's idea of balance!

We only get a chance to govern when the socialists have (as usual) bankrupted the country and the electorate has to turn to the competent managers to rescue the economy.

Cath said...

Iain I do agree with you that there are certainly better targets for vitriol and it does worry me that we seem to be looking behind the game on this now, it's all sounding scarily mid-90s.

However I really don't buy the working mum thing and I find it distateful that she uses that as a defence. Firstly, if a woman doesn't feel that a job is compatible with being a mum then she should not do the job. I have opted to remain in a "back office" role in my own career rather than be client facing (and earn more of course) because I want to be able to leave the office at a sensible time. These are the difficult choices which women make all the time. Secondly, if a joint salary of nearly £130K isn't enough to employ a full-time nanny of the highest quality then most of us should re-train into childcare immediately.

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone want to be an MP nowadays - the suffer the constant risk that arises from being "owned" by the undiscriminating,ungrateful and unwashed public?

Wrinkled Weasel said...

"No woman with small children in their right mind will look at a political career if things carry on like this."

Any woman in her right mind would elect to put her "small children" first, otherwise, there is really no point in having them.

MarriedWithKids said...

Well here's a radical thought. Maybe women with children can do what men with children do when they go into parliament - they leave it to their spouses to look after their children. An MP's salary - even without the lavish expenses - is a pretty healthy amount of money for a family to live on quite easily

seebag said...

What utter rubbish - "who would want to be an MP?"
How about someone who is principled, their own person, prepared to not do anything that might appear dishonest or unethical, prepared not to exploit rules or systems that appear faulty, transparent and fulsome in their disclosures, willing to be open to and judged by their public, prepared to take responsibility for their and their associates (eg staff) actions. Very simple really, if a little old fashioned.

Michaela said...

History will record that your Blog broke the story

Steve H said...

Iain, if you truly believe that using the taxpayer to provide employment for your family isn't fundamentally dodgy, maybe you really should reconsider standing as an MP.

If you honestly believe La Kirkbride's guff about having to funnel taxpayer money to the benefit of her sister and her brother because she didn't trust anyone else, your judgement seems pretty suspect.

Seamaster73 said...

Her goose was cooked with the Radio 5 interview and phone-in today. When Tory voters in her own constituency were calling in to say they didn't buy her "I'm just a poor struggling single mum" routine, she was doomed. And rightly so. Sorry and all that.

Anonymous said...

Come of it, Iain - man or woman is irrelevant. If you choose (the public has never forced anyone yet) to go into public life then we, the public, expect you to be honourable. MP's have a reasonably good lifestyle, certainly better than many another in this country, so if their greed makes them dishonourable you really can't expect the public to have sympathy with them. Your loyalty does you credit, your defence of the indefencible does not!

vince stevenson said...

I think that she (and hubby) had put themselves in impossible positions. We all make mistakes, but when you're in the public eye like this, you have to be whiter than white. Rgds Vince

Obnoxio The Clown said...

More self-serving twaddle, Mr Dale. Your constituents would never respect you if these blog posts came to light after yet more of your friends got caught being "naughty, naughty boys and girls".

Give up your parliamentary aspirations before you embarrass the Tory party even more.

Plato said...

Anon at 14:56 took the words out of my mouth.

And since when is live-in childcare paid for on the state?

I see the Daily Mail also have been digging about the identities of her constituency sec and nanny...

"It emerged this morning that she paid the local Tory chairman's wife to be her secretary and also employed the couple's daughter as a full-time nanny."

All a bit too cosy for me.

wv fulogic

Ed said...

This argument truly perplexes me. The HIGNFY audio, the mortgage swindle, the blatant using everyone as cover (her leader, her husband, her son). It's shameful stuff and she was so thoroughly bang to rights. That she's trying to portray herself as some innocent martyr to womanhood while taking money from many working mothers who don't have anything like the level of support she has just adds insult to grievous injury.

Nigel Allery said...

Creche. For lady MP's let's make an exception and fund creche facilities up to £XXXX a year. There are sensible, transparent ways to resolve this issue. And Nadine's made it work so I am certain so can others.

disillusioned Dale blog reader said...

Iain,

Oh come on. Surely you credit us with more intelligence than that? She builds an extension costing £50,000 and you expect us to believe that this is for the purpose of childcare arrangements which will "save the taxpayer money"? That really is laughable!

Next you'll be telling us that it would be justifiable for an MP to purchase a Bugatti Veyron so that it gives them an extra 5 minutes to spend at their constituency office.

re Julie: A politician complaining about the media is like a ship's captain complaining about the sea.......

Thomas Rossetti said...

Iain, I don't think you're mad for wanting to go into politics. You articulate honorable, sensible reasons for doing so. I liked the fact that you acknowledge the arrogance of thinking you could do it better than other people. If they are honest, all aspirant politicians are arrogant in this regard.

A large number of politicians are not in it for the right reasons (or so it seems). They seem to think that, for all the benefit they bestow on the country, they should be better paid than they are. They are savvy enough to appreciate that asking for a pay rise would be unpopular and so abuse the system to make as much money as possible.

Although I don't object to MPs receiving some sort of remuneration, politics should not be about making money. If you're any good, the public profile you get from your position should enable you to make some decent money afterwards anyway.

Julie Kirkbride and her husband were paid well (imho) and yet abused the system for all its worth. I do feel sorry for her son, but when many people are struggling around the country, why should we make special allowance for someone to have their brother live in?

Alan Douglas said...

It's the low-hanging fruit thing again. Openly dealing Tories doing it all in public can be seen as easy targets for the wolf pack, while wrinkling secretive socialists out of their bunker might actually need some real work.

I just hope that the electorate see that Tories are willing to reform, and not simply go into the "Tory sleaze" mindset again.

A moat is so much more visable (and risable) that straightforward theft by Labour MINISTERS vie dodge and non-existant mortgages.

Sad really. But DC is certainly doing the right thing by washing the linen in public. If only he could avoid that step where the grandee comes out and says "I don;t see what all the fuss is about, can I help it if I have a moat/children/a divorce etc etc

Alan Douglas

Sentient WV : knabless

Anonymous said...

I am afaid to say that the point in all this is very simple - as a MP you only claim what is morally defensible to your electorate and wholly and completely essential to undertake your duty as a MP.(If not - then you pay the price) You do not indulge in some scheme to maximise your second home allowances;flip properties;avoid paying captial gains tax ; claim for a duck house;tree maintainance;servants;bath plugs or claiming for dog food like some of our elected representatives have done.

Admittedly Ms Kirkbride has been one of the few - as of yet - that has had to pay the ultimate price in the terms of her seat - others will follow -at Cabinet level there is absolutely no doubt of that fact(the Redditch constituency next to Bromsgrove will without a doubt despatch Jacqui Smith at the election) and politics WILL be better without such people whatever their abilities or potential. For too long politicians have taken the electorate for fools to be lectured to and their views ignored. All parties are guilty of that fact. Now they have had a almighty warning shot across their bows and for some it has been apocalyptic as in Ms Kirkbride and her husband's case

But before we sympathise too much - rememember MPs have brought this trouble on their own heads by their behaviour and I'm afraid that that is the bottom line. It may be the "fees office" gave advice but it should have been obvious to anyone how it would look to the electorate- within the rules maybe but totally indefensible morally AND that is why she had to stand down. The anger in the country is paplable and unabated - many many existing MPs will lose their seats at the election if the public mood is still the same at the General Election and no-one,however senior,can regard their seat as absolutely safe anymore

golden_balls said...

I actually thought she had done enough after her interview yesterday. She gave a good account of herself and persuaded me.

Whatever people may say i think julie was a good mp for bromsgrove.
Politically i have no time for the lady but i'm a little sorry for her.

While i do agree heads should role and yet more will no doubt.

I hope people don't judge an mp on the expense claim issue alone and forget the good work many have done over the years.

RWB said...

Of course it's unfair, of course Hoon and Darling and all the rest of them deserve the same treatment. The thing that did for her were the two claims on the same house (have I got that right, it is all so complicated) with absolutely no contrition or shame or embarrassment. I just do not believe she did not know that her husband was claiming on the same house. If she didn't, she should have. These MPs are not victims and I wish that they would have the decency to admit that their claims were unethical and disproportionate even if they were 'within the rules'. Oh yes, and Conservative MPs should behave better than Labour MPs.

Gareth said...

"Most of my friends, and all of my family keep asking me one question: why on earth would you want to be an MP if you are treated like this?"

Behave as Mackay and Kirkbride have and you'd deserve it. They have a duty to get value for money for the taxpayer.

"She wanted her brother to be a child minder rather than a stranger. Who wouldn't? It didn't cost the taxpayer a penny, and yet she's been made out to look as if she has fleeced the taxpayer."

The taxman would look at rent free accommodation as a benefit in kind. The Brother should not have been living there at all. We have helped pay for their mortgageS. Stop burying your head in the sand over obvious misdeeds. That hers are relatively minor compared to others is no excuse.

Look at this expenses system as a test of probity. Compliance with the system has marked MPs down as corrupt and grasping because they are too dim to forsee what complaince with a rotten system actually means. Why, if it is entitlement that Nadine Dorries claims it is, are London MPs excluded from it and some MPs outside London make no claims on it?

Stop seeing this as a Tory and start seeing it as a Taxpayer! So much money for so little work. The expenses system is our Parliament in microcosm - MPs shirk responsibility by creating a quango they can blame for their failings. The EU was the creation of polticians. Quangos across this land that are out of our control. All so MPs can have a rich choice of bogeymen to blame when the shit hits the fan and crucially, also let those bogeymen quietly make decisions so MPs have less work to do.

trevorsden said...

"Regrettably, the women who go into parliament tend not to be very representative of women at large" -- what a load of anonymous garbage. Do women at large not have careers then? Are they all little mumsys then. Are they not entitled to be opinionated?

What a pathetic load of stereotyping.

The house being claimed for is her constituency home as I understand it not her family home. MPs are allowed to claim for a constituency home, the Balls' for instance claim double.

BTW in 2006 she said this in arguing for less expenses not more
"The Leader of the House puts his case with his characteristic charm, but he must be aware that most Members see this communication expenses scheme as just an exercise in "save our seats" for the Labour party. Given the massive increases that we have already had in our expenses, does he not give any consideration to the fact that many of our constituents would prefer us to be more considerate.."

I do not think these are the words of someone setting out to defraud anyone.

RWB said...

Of course it's unfair, of course Hoon and Darling and all the rest of them deserve the same treatment. The thing that did for her were the two claims on the same house (have I got that right, it is all so complicated) with absolutely no contrition or shame or embarrassment. I just do not believe she did not know that her husband was claiming on the same house. If she didn't, she should have. These MPs are not victims and I wish that they would have the decency to admit that their claims were unethical and disproportionate even if they were 'within the rules'. Oh yes, and Conservative MPs should behave better than Labour MPs.

jailhouselawyer said...

Iain: You are only 24 hours behind with this news...

Julie Kirkbride to face Madame Guillotine

Shamik said...

Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice!

Two more troughers bite the dust!

Julie Kirkbride and Margaret Moran, we won't miss you, you thieving, morally vacant, evil, shameless pair of tea leafs!!

Tory123 said...

As far as I understand it, she claimed her ACA knowing that her better half also claimed an ACA...if she thought that was acceptable, as she did, then she had to go. Regardless of how she was advised, she must have known that what she was doing was using the system for her benefit, rather than it's official use.

insert-coin-here said...

Normal people dont get the taxpayer to subsadise an extension onto their homes to facilitate a relation living there as a 'nanny'.

Normal people have to use their post tax wage to do it.

Think on that.

I can see this blog going the way of LabourList.

dalesman said...

If your friends and family are asking why you want to be treated like this, and you are asking yourself the same question that must mean you are thinking of fiddling.
The only reason that JK has "been treated like this" is because she has been fiddling the taxpayers.

I read your blog everyday, and often enjoy it, but you have let yourself down during the last few days trying to defend the indefensible.

Listening to you on radio 4 last night you sounded like every other politician, trotting out the same old defences.

Jabba the Cat said...

"No woman with small children in their right mind will look at a political career if things carry on like this."

What drivel you speak. There are, I'm sure, plenty of such people who will step forward who have a sense of moral right and wrong, have a calling to true public service ,and will be prepared to do the job of being an MP honourably and honestly and make suitable arrangements for having the children looked after without recourse to other peoples money. I believe the later is referred to as making a sacrifice in the cause of the common good.

Jonathan said...

Big fan of your blog and your media presence generally, Iain, but I am not with you on this one I'm afraid.

She's made the right - and only - decision.

As good a local MP as she was - and yes there are unquestionably greater offenders - she didn't play with a straight enough bat.

Scott said...

I normally agree with you on most thing Iain, but you have simply misjudged this issue.

You are on the wrong side of the argument.

Bird said...

A typical self-satisfied performance from Esther Rantzen on The World at One.
It wasn't enough for Moran, the Luton MP, to resign. No, the great broadcaster told the world that if called she would still stand.
Apparently she's built the trust of the great British public after forty years of broadcasting.
She also clearly implied that none of the candidates in the next election would be honest.

The Last Of The Few said...

Sorry Iain,
I appreciate you are a right wing blogger but you can not enjoy the support of many of your avid readers on this subject.

You are in the minority on this.

The system is being manipulated for personal gain.
Not as a result of compensation for a legitimate outlay for satisfactory performance of the role.

I get an allowance for child care. Its exactly that child care and is paid to the carer of the children. Not via an expence to allow me to build a bigger house or extension.

I admire your writings at times, but sorry Iain way off beat here.

Plato said...

Update - Met Police gearing up expenses investigation.

Anonymous said...

It was sickening to hear her blame her husband for giving her bad advice. What happened to individual responsibility which is a Tory war cry. I'm afraid that I suffer from compassion fatigue when I think of our servicemen and women sent to legally doubtful conflicts, ill equipped and on revolving door tours, by this supine, grasping , avaricious, self pitying and inept lobby fodder. I make no distinction between the parties. The number of MPs worth keeping are a mere handful. I find I am getting angrier by the day and if I hear the Nuremberg defence once more I shall become demented.

Anonymous said...

Two posts in as many days and neither of them posted! Why? I didn't use bad language, I posted my user name---zendo----but I DID criticize you for your unswerving support of the cheat that is Kirkbride. Perhaps unlike many others here, I do believe you should follow your desire to be an MP as you support people like this.

Unsworth said...

"No woman with small children in their right mind will look at a political career if things carry on like this."

Speaking as a reluctant parent I've always had doubts as to whether my children - small or not - are "in their right mind".

But perhaps you meant Ms Kirkbride.

Well, politics is a rough old game. She and her husband had a pretty good ride while it lasted. I entirely disagree with your views over this. The fact is that neither she nor her husband should have stayed on, defiant, in the face of clear public outrage.

Setting aside the rights and wrongs for just a moment, both of them had become liabilities within a very few days. And neither of them ever had the ability to effectively deal with such public anger. If they were genuine supporters of the Conservative Party they should have fully recognised the damage that their continuing presence was causing.

Finally, apparently reluctantly and with very little grace, they are going. If there is a single lesson in all of this it is that Party comes before Self. What will they now do to ensure successful Conservative candidacies in their constituencies? Or will we see them simply walk away from a Party which has supported them till now?

As to the 'more deserving'. Well, life simply isn't fair is it?

Iain Dale said...

Dalesman, I resent that accusation and it is simply untrue. You should be ashamed of yourself for even making it.

Someone else said: "You picked the wrong side of the argument". That may be how your mind works. I don't pick a side of the argument to curry favour. I argue what I believe in. Of course most of you disagree with me. That doesn't make me regret my stance one iota.

Unsworth said...

@ Plato

Wrong. "Met police gearing up for expenses cover-up" is probably more accurate.

Dr Feelgood said...

All this focus on Conservative backbenchers, nicely peeling off voters in favour of UKIP while much worse Cabinet Ministers keep a low profile.

Gordon must be loving this.

If we get a Labour government re-elected again next year, you'll all be wondering, 'how did that happen'?

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with your reasoning here.
To be quite honest Iain if Julie a Labour MP I don't think you would be defending her as much as you have defended Julie. Also after saying you weren't going to defend her again you did!!!

Are you saying there is a rule for one and a rule for another depending on what political party they are from? Of course you wouldn't but it appears in your argument for Julie to be the case.

I have to admit your latest posting shows more of a lack of understanding about the complexities of public opinion informing the political process than a reasoned debate.

Furthermore this case has made Cameron's approach to the issue weak in the fact he defended her after coming in from the moral high ground about other MPs expenses.

bewick said...

Come off it Iain. For ME Ms Mcbride will be a miss since she is, let's say, fanciable for an old codger like me.
BUT sadly physical attractiveness is NOT the issue.
Ms McB and her husband have been MILKING the system for all they were worth.They aren't alone and they aren't alone in being found out - in ALL political colours. Will be interesting to eventually see percentages. MY guess, based on the normal distribution curve,is that MPs will be found out in direct proportion to their proportion in the Commons. EXCEPT that I instinctively think that NuLabour will have more accurately reflected Animal Farm so may well gain a higher percentage.

BOTTOM LINE is that ALL should be made to TOTALLY pay back and not get away with just a 40% tax on "benefits in kind" HMRC decision. I couldn't. Even THAT would cost them only 40% of what I would have to pay for the same items.
BETTER would be that some at least are JAILED for fraud.

I remember a Paris taxi driver proudly pointing out that the Bastille had once stood on La Place de la Bastille. I KNEW that. Maybe MPs now need to actually CONSIDER that very fact. NOT a threat but I DO sense MASSIVE anger in even my small village where people say "I always voted Labour but never again".

We DID once have a civil war!

Andrew Cooper said...

Unsurprisingly, massive cognitive dissonance is kicking in here.

Iain's obviously too close to the MPs to see it.

subrosa said...

Iain you've missed the whole point about the childminding issue.

As far as I understand it MPs have to pay for childcare, same as the rest of the working population (with very few exceptions).

She's tried to get childcare on the taxpayer albeit in a roundabout (some could say devious) manner. The £250 a month pays the interest on a extension which she openly admits was needed so as her brother could have a room to himself.

Most working women with children have to search for childcare and few have the luck of having a family member on tap 24x7. I understand Westminster is one of the most understanding 'employers' regarding family etc so really she did have it all but blew it.

Anonymous said...

I'm betting that the Telegraph and Co have hardly begun, so it's a little premature to argue that they aren't picking on so-and-so, just because they haven't YET.

All in good time....

Iain Dale said...

There seems to be a concerted "Anonymous" campaign on this thread to impugn my integrity. If you want to do that you can put your name to your blog comment. If you don't you can bugger off.

Jabba the Cat said...

I'm curious if we are going to have a spate of ZaNuLab revelations next week to coincide with the elections?

StradeyParker said...

Iain, Iain...what are you thinking of when you wrote: "I think most people will see that if MPs have to stand down for alleged impropriety there are better candidates than Julie Kirkbride. But they are still in place"?

And your point is....what exactly? Other should go before her? Well perhaps - but we are talking about her and not the others. She should have goen with her husband to support him at his meeting, and gone with him when he stood down. But instead she clung to the wreckage; only she didn't realise that it was the wreckage of her career.

And now we have a variation on the mantra: "It's not a fair cop, guv - and it was my husband and the Fees Office that were to blame." Blamimg Mackay was low indeed. She could have gone with some dignity, but as someone else might have written "Nothing in her political life became her like the leaving it."

Disappointed said...

So, what do you believe in then? That it is acceptable for a married couple to both claim an ACA each?

The talk about her being a mother is wholly irrelevant to this.

..Silicon Implant!! said...

PS: One more thing - your suggestion that women won't go into politics if they get kicked out by their outraged employers when they are caught with their hands in the till.

This is just patronising rubbish. There are many millions of women with children in jobs from minimum wage through to boardroom and all levels in between, and all of those women would no doubt experience summary dismissal and worse if their employers caught them with their hands in the till. The difference with Kirkbride is that because she was an MP and thus shares the blame for writing her own rules, she may yet escape a trip into the dock as a defendant on fraud charges (and thence into the local paper and a criminal record).

So re. 'poor poor Julie Kirkbride...'

Oh dear, how sad, never mind!

Anonymous said...

I think it's mostly already been said but I'll chip in anyway. The overblown family member stuff was really a result of Cameron's initial support. Once they realised they couldn't get her on the double claiming the media went after the other stuff. That's why some of the labour people aren't at the front of the news, because GB has backed them, at least publicly. They had more on Kirkbride, felt she was vulnerable and kept targeting her. At the end of the day her position was untenable because of her double claiming. If it was enough for the husband to go why not her? The media struggle to re-run the same story if they don't get the kill first time round, they need a new angle. That's why politicians try to stick it out so often. In this case the story had got so much exposure the tories were going to lose votes. To claim that this will prevent people from wanting to be MPs is a bit silly. The only MPs in the firing line are those that fiddled, the ones that didn't are respected more as a result...

Flemingcrag said...

Unlike you Iain I have no sorrows about the departure of Julie Kirkbride nor her husbang Andrew McKay they milked the system between them to the Nth degree.

If you accept any of the excuses that they offered about ignorance of each others claims to the Fees office then you exonerate Tessa Jowell from any knowledge of her husband's shady dealings. Did you buy any of Tessa's weak explanations? If the answer is no then give up flogging a dead horse on Julie's case.

There are others who need to be brought to book, it is an issue that has to be pursued without emotional clouding of facts and the job of you and other Bloggers is to kick down the protective barries that most of the Mainstream Media have offered to members of the Government.

Iain Dale said...

Dont' twist my words you anonymous prat.

bewick said...

Julie IS eyecandy for old codgers like me. BUT she was as grasping and dishonest as the rest. So bloody good riddance. Even more so for the repulsive Ms Moran.

I WOULD like all the cheats to have to pay back ALL that they stole and NOT just 40% tax on "benefits in kind" since THAT would mean that they only paid 40% for items unnessary for their duties which would cost ME 100%

CGT? RED HERRING. ALL profits from taxpayer funded properties should be RETURNED to the taxpayer. NO exceptions.
I WANT hangings and even the destruction of the British Bastille aka HOC. I am ANGRY beyond words and everyone I speak to is so - even those who say "I always voted Labour but never again" (MOST in fact but they aren't asked in opinion polls!)

Stronghold Barricades said...

If you consider Julie one of the good then that should also be sending a very strong message to the rest

If they won't all stand down and call an election then it looks like the MSM will have to winkle them out one at a time

Certainly Brown seems to have very little input into the Moran affair, who is going because of her health

David M said...

She needs to go NOW. Cameron is losing vast public support over his inaction to deal with these "troughers". I live in Bromsgrove, and I can tell you in all honesty, people want her GNOE, and gone NOW, and not sometime next year. We need a sytem whereby such MPs are removed, and either replaced by a "temporary MP" until the G.E.
She has caused thousands of lost votes in Bromsgrove. Most are now considering any party except the big-3.

Anonymous said...

Two soldiers dead, precious to someone. Bmbs in Peshwar. Hostages taken two years ago, precious to their families. Job losses, swine flu...I could go on.

What is the first item of news from our media? What concerns people the most? MP's expenses and mob rule, bandwagon politics. Sensational!

My God when will the people of this country get their priorities right?

Lola said...

Look, Iain, you are clearly a Good Bloke and you are loyal to people whom you know and respect. But, Julie messed up big time. She had to fall on her sword. I also do not accept that it is a media feeding frenzy.

In regards to you standing as an MP - go for it. You are an honest man and will enter Parliament with all this mess behind us and suitable procedures in place to ensure that it cannot happen again. As such you would be entering Parliament at a particularly advantageous moment.

In any event becoming an MP is an obvious statement of your beliefs. You have declared yourself. This will certainly enrage those who do not agree with your politics so you will be up for challenge and up for unfriendly media attention. But such is the nature of public life. The challenges to your politics are a good thing, because your supporters will want you to defend your position vigourously. And that is entirely different to defending actions like those of Kirkbride.

Of course if you have closeted skeletons you may not want them exposed, so don't go into politics.

Anonymous said...

THE TORY PARTY ARE FULL OF OUT OF DATE WEIRDOS....MOATS,DUCK HOUSE,SERVANTS....IAIN DONT JOIN THIS HORRIBLE BUNCH

bladerunner86 said...

Iain I have to disagree with you on this one.
After saying you weren't going to defend her again you did!!
You do not understand the complexities of the mood of public opinion to change an individual's position regarding whether to stand again and the genuine public anger out there.
I think Julie committed a moral mistake and she is now paying for the consequences. I am glad she has decided to take the best decision and stand down. I think Cameron look like he had no substance when he was defending her after taking such a moral high ground on the issue.

One question I would like to pose is this: Are voters getting value for money with the current political system? If not how should we go about reforming it?

I think Cameron has signalled the urgent need to reform the current system, but isn't it what other political parties are saying too?
This is not necessarily a Conservative only idea, some Lib Dems and Labour MPs are saying the same thing.

smileyman said...

Most of the expenses are just part of the "trough" culture that seems pervasive at Westminster. Understandable but not really defensible.

The extension is really just a bad example of the above - the icing on the cake for an annoyed and let down electorate.

But the double-claiming on the second home is, to the man-in-the-street, straight up fraud. And having claimed that she didn't know about it/thought it was OK, the HIGNFY audio shot her career stone dead.

She should have done the decent thing and gone last weekend. The desperate clinging on this week has done her and her party no favours at all.

Triffid said...

ID said: "why on earth would you want to be an MP if you are treated like this?"

Dumb question number 42.


The easiest way not to be treated like a thieving parasite is not to behave like a thieving parasite.

Kirkbride was just another leaching OUR money to friends and families.

Good riddance to bad rubbish. And Moran has gone as well.

What a good day. Now, for Blears, Hoon, Darling etc

DC said...

Oh get OVER it Iain. She and her husband were on the make and on the take double-claiming. He went so equally-culpable she had to, too. Childminding is a complete red herring here.

Jabba the Cat said...

@ bewick said...

"Julie IS eyecandy for old codgers like me."

Oh dear you set the bar somewhat low, but hey, different strokes for different folks.

rosscoe said...

What I don't understand is how its a resigning matter for an MP to let her brother live rent free in her own house , but its perfectly ok for the home secretery to spend over 100k of other peoples money to live with her sister?

Nick said...

You may think it was fully deserved in Julie's case. I happen to think there were more deserving cases for media attention than hers.

----------------

There are, and we're after them too.

You're using this defense.

Other people are getting away with it, you can't prosecute me.

Doesn't work Iain. People have wised up.

"It's within the rules". No it isn't, its fraud. The claims were not wholly necessary for their work as an MP

James Moriarty said...

"Of course most of you disagree with me. That doesn't make me regret my stance one iota."


Maybe you should stand to be an MP, you certainly have the mind set for it.

Anonymous said...

"But think of a forty year old woman with a couple of kids, who is thinking about going into politics. Think how this episode will affect her thought process."

I don't want a Parliament of cowards. Let them chance something if they want the privilege of making our laws.

Ruth@VS said...

I agree that there are bigger fish in the pond, but this result was inevitable once her husband went. They both claimed ACA, so it was only right that they both went - the media only had to keep digging.

I would have had more respect for her if she had done what David Cameron had suggested - come clean, speak to her constituents and put her case earlier. She didn't, and to add insult to injury she played the "I'm a woman with a child and I believed what my husband told me" card.

There are many women in the country who have children, work in a demanding job and pay for their own childcare while not defrauding the taxpayer. Playing the woman card lost her 50% of her constituents straight away.

So on this one, I respectfully disagree with you Iain, but good on you for sticking by your own views.

Mel Cannon said...

I cannot believe what you have written in defence of this woman. She has played the little vulnerable woman role exceptionally well, emaphasisingthe needs and demands of a working mother, the need to be able to trust her 'childminder', all as justification of her s tealing money from me and the rest of the taxpayers, and you have bought the whole package. What naivete.

I have just heard one of her constituents talking about the £50k extension for her brother, saying that she has a disabled husband and gets very limited help from the taxpayer for his needs.

Kirkbride should be forced to go now and pay back that which she has misapropriated from the public purse over the time she and her crooked spouse have been in Parliament.

For Gods sake, you are too close to the whole miserable bunch to remain objective.

Jonathan said...

Perhaps the reason you continue to defend Julie Kirkbride, Iain, is because you (deliberately, I fear) focus on the wrong facts i.e. it's blatantly obvious that people are not angry about the free child minding, but the taxpayer funded £50,000 extension that was part of the family arrangement.

Can you point out a job where you can claim £50,000 on expenses in order that I might house a family member to provide "free" childcare? Or a competent accountant who assesses costs purely on the basis of labour, free of overheads or capital expenditures? Do you think it is a good idea for a political party with a family family agenda to completely undermine their child care policies in this way, by showing them how the rich folk pay for it? What kind of reaction do you think is coming from hard working people who have moved house, or quit jobs, or seen their discretionary spending plummet in order to raise a family?

To try and turn this into "what message does this send to women thinking of getting into politics" is a wonderful example of the kind self-serving, dissembling political morality that makes stories like this so explosive.

pol-e-tics said...

Iain,

Please read:
The odd couple

Maria said...

I know plenty of moms like myself that would dearly love £1000 to spend our our homes and our kids.
Having professional photos done at the tax payers expense is a joke.
We have to put up with a broken Sofa, whilst the likes of JK enjoy her expense claims. If I or other working class moms would have fiddled extra cash, we'd be awating trial, and no doubt be sent to prison in due course.

Gill said...

"It didn't cost the taxpayer a penny".

Are you *sure* about that?

Carl Gardner said...

I'm with the majority here, Iain - I can't understand your support for her either. There may be worse cases, and I absolutely agree that cabinet ministers should have been sacked by now, but "whataboutery" isn't the point.

To defend Julie Kirkbride you have to think she didn't know about her husband's arrangements, and that it's mere coincidence her claims allowed them to double up. You also have to think it's mere coincidence she voted "strongly" against transparency.

The brother is a side-show, and to me, as to others, it seems she's focused on that, for which she has some defence, as an attempt to divert attention from the main issue.

Non Runner said...

Iain

She didn't stand down about her child minding arrangements. No-one gave a stuff about her child minding arrangements. What planet have you been on precisely?

Or are you taking your readers for fools.

steve keeling said...

Gary is right. The way she's using her son as cover for her veniality doesn't surprise anyone who, like me, lives in her constituency (and doesn't he go to school in London, anyway?). She has played the family card constantly in her publications (hence the £1,000 bill for photos?) It has always been unsettling if not unpleasant. For such a wealthy, well-connected woman to pretend she has the same problems as other working mums in Bromsgrove is extraordinary. Either she has no grasp whatsoever of how most of us live or she really has lost the plot. Kirkbride will fade from memory; the only trace she existed a whiff of scandal.

Victor, NW Kent said...

Cleggy wants to have them all sequestered until every Crook and Nanny is sorted.

He should add every Moat and Beam, every Dry or Damp Rot, every Shrub and Tree, every Flip and Flop.

Cleggy and Alan Johnson have a cunning plan to somehow stampede the voters into PR so that Libs and Labs can live happily ever after.

They might have to swiftly abolish the Lords first to avoid objections there. They would have a majority for that.

S.Jenkins said...

Dale you are WRONG on this.
She is a liar and a thief!
Bromsgrove deserves a Bi-election.
And lets get rid of these people once and for all.

Michael said...

Desperate Dale needs to eat some Humble Cow Pie

Siberian Tory said...

The public's confidence in politics has collapsed.

There are bigger things than JK's feelings at stake. She has to go, she has to be sacraficed to the court of public opnion. There are MPs more deserving of attention but the media's too gutless to persue the high powered ones. But again that hardly matters.

By the end of this we need the cleanest politics in the world.

If we don't we'll see the anti-politics brigade i.e. the BNP gaining more and more influence.

I suspect you're getting so much abuse because you ended your email with a sanctimonious "think about that".

Still a brave post Iain but I disagree with you entirely.

StradeyParker said...

Actually, there is a very obvious reason why Ms Kirkbride was pursued 'harder' than Iain thinks seemly....Where did she work prior to entering parliament?

A friend who works on a regional weekly paper said to me once that all his reporters get told: "If you ever commit a driving offence, you will tell us and we will report it. The same goes for more serious stuff."

The media has to be seen to be operating fairly, and not playing favourites - not least the titles on which Ms Kirkbride worked.

I don't think you should mind, Iain, that she may be held to a higher standard than some MPs - that is the price reporters pay for being reporters - but it ill behoves you to suggest that she be held to a lower one.

Fausty said...

As others have said, JK was first a victim of the media, and then the Respect party.

You can help out here, Iain, by interviewing the biggest culprits on your radio show. Give them a the Humphrys treatment and make sure that all the major media outlets are given advance notice of your broadcast.

Darling, Blears, Smith, McNulty and the rest of the troughing cabinet should get the coverage they deserve.

strapworld said...

Iain, I admire you. I admire anyone who is willing to speak up for people, against the tide!

Sadly, it was a hopeless case and she was doomed.

I am sorry for her, really sorry as she was a good MP. But she was stupid, as we all have been sometime in our lives. But she has been caught out.

What sickens me about this is the way the press, in particular SKY and the bloody BBC hounded a woman.
They ignore the Labour Party and their sinners!

But my real anger is towards David Cameron who is proving, to me, to be a coward. He let her out to dry. He is no leader. He allows this to gather pace yet does nothing, absolutely nothing about those in his shadow cabinet who have done far far worse than Julie.His radio/television interviews, on this, are quite sickening.

I am sorry/ If he where a leader, he would have sacked them both immediately, indeed as well as Maude and Co.
alongwith all the others who have had their fingers in the till.

Are we really going to elect yet another Blair like Prime Minister?

God help us all.

Anonymous said...

But think of a forty year old woman with a couple of kids, who is thinking about going into politics. Think how this episode will affect her thought process. Julie Kirkbride quit, at least in part, over her child minding arrangements. She wanted her brother to be a child minder rather than a stranger. Who wouldn't? It didn't cost the taxpayer a penny, and yet she's been made out to look as if she has fleeced the taxpayer. Iain, I really do find this (unintentionally on your part) an offensive point to make to other, honest working parents.

I am such a woman with two children, and regularly my retired relatives have babysat at inconvenient times caused by my irregular hours odd shifts work - out of love I might add. No employer would ever reimburse any direct or indirect costs of that; childcare is not even tax-deductible as it is not deemed a working expense.

By claiming the costs of building a room for her weekend babysitter as a necessary working expense, Julie Kirkbride is doing what any other person is prohibited from doing - and yes it was more than a penny and yes it was fleecing!

If she feels strongly that the law is wrong, she should have campaigned for childcare to be a working expense (ie tax deductible) and some sort of legal obligation for employers to contribute. However, she hasn't done that - she's left the rest of the working parent population to abide under existing laws and flouted them herself.

Playing the "I'm a mother" card is offensive to mothers who don't defraud their employers.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ian,
Take a trip to the Mids, and ask the Constituents of Bromsgrove about Julie.K.

I dont think they would be slow in telling you how wrong you are.

No wonder no-ones in hurry to replace the broken glass!

Carl.H said...

Is this what the tory party has become, apologists for ZANUCON?
Shame on all who defend such actions. Fraud is Fraud.

Anonymous said...

Its a pity Kirkbride had to go, Needhams defence was eloquent, but I suppose the mob and the Telegraph had to be satisfied. Maybe Tyburn tree should be re-erected for those of the left and the axe for the right.

Botogol said...

you don't get it, Iain, she resigned because she knows that the voters won't vote for her. This being a democracy and all.

Phil C said...

Iain, it is very simple what prospective MPs should do if elected.

They should maintain a family home in or near the constituency at their own expense.

They should fund a modest pied a terre in London using the ACA.

For furnishing the pied a terre they should claim reasonable amounts, eg £200 for a telly, not the £750 that is for some reason considered reasonable by the Fees Office.

If the MP wants to live in greater state when in London, he should pay the additional costs himself.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy I would have thought.

PIENOMICS said...

In my book Brown should be going. We paid for his cleaner. We paid for a new kitchen and gardening at his constituency/family home. And then there's questions about his 'second home' flat in London. And let's not get into Blears et al. If Julie Kirkbride has to go then so do all the others who have 'stayed within the rules'. Normally it's the person at the top who sets the tone.Oh I forgot. These people are politicians.

scotch said...

Iain, I post again in the hope that this one doen't get lost like the last one.

In relation to your comment at 4.14 I'm going to draw attention to your rules:

"Persistent abuse of me, the host of this blog by way of spurious allegations or name-calling is liable to result in a ban."

But that doesn't seem to apply to you Iain: I reckon calling people "twat" is pretty abusive - unless we're all allowed to do it just the once.

"Please try to be as polite as possible".

How can rules work if the creator of the rules doesn't follow them?

Anonymous said...

Why would someone want to be an MP?
Why would someone, even now, NOT want to become an MP?

£65k a year; top grade pension out of all proportion to contributions; first class rail travel; full fare air travel; jollies abroad on "parliamentary missions"; play the London property market (still allowed)at the taxpayer's expense; free and subsidised food and drink.
Need I go on?

Anonymous said...

Ian, she was caught manipulating the system (albeit a system "designed" by her and her peers for their own benefit) to her own advantage.

She has been caught. In most other lines of work she would be dismissed and not allowed to "retire" sometime in the future.

AJC

ps. I too am concerned that Cabinet members (and others) seem to be having an easy ride at the moment.

BenS said...

Really? MPs quite deliberately have messed up, they must have known the response they would (rightly!) get, and you have the gall to defend them?

Come on Mr Dale, you're starting to sound like Matthew Parris.

Savonarola said...

With respect you think like one of the Westminster Village mob. Yes there are worse cases for investigation.

Very few MP's know the difference between rules and morality.

Labour MP's and Ministers are for the most part under the radar. They wre all grateful to Julie K for taking the heat for a week.

They are up next.

Anonymous said...

Her comment that having the taxpayer pick up the extra mortgage for the 3rd bedroom was fair because it would have been more expensive had she moved house, doesn't stack up. Just go to findaproperty.com and you can see that you can rent 2 3-bed flats for the money she took from us last year. Alternatively, you can buy an exclusive 5-bed detached house with en-suite bathrooms etc. It's disgusting that she gets to hang on to the next election. She's a fraudster.

..Silicon Implant!! said...

I'm still disappointed that you didn't let my initial reply to this through, however, one more point to consider as you rush to JK's defence...

If you are of a mind that MPs like (for example) Peter Ainsworth, to pick another Tory example, who has been very straightforwardly claiming a second home allowance while living 22 miles from Westminster, allegedly entirely within the rules (radiator cover excepted), should be standing down due to his complete ethical failure, then surely Kirkbride - in comparison with whom Ainsworth is a gold plated saint - could never hope to survive, and the judgement of anybody who regards her despatch as unfair is surely as questionable as hers in believing that she wasn't political dead woman walking?

I don't know what Peter Ainsworth would/will say to his constituents, but I don't imagine that any of them have second homes or see any reason why he might need one. Odds on, they will view him claiming a second home allowance at all as nothing but graft and corruption, however much he bleats about it being within the rules and within the law and on the advice yada yada. For myself, I perhaps naively can't see how the hell his second home would ever pass the green book "Wholly exclusively and necessarily" test, and it certainly fails David Cameron's 'Smell Test'. Yes he has a vast majority, but in the current climate not insurmountable if a local campaign to dethrone him gets up a head of steam. Even if such a campaign failed, the fact that it would exist, would have significant well motivated support, and would have a valid point will surely do the Conservative party great electoral harm nationally.

So, stop worrying about the apparent failure to deal with crooks and amoral troughers on the government side of the house, because every crook and thieving dishonest venal scumbag standing for re-election on the Labour ticket is an almost guaranteed Labour loss in this climate, and possibly more than one if their presence on the campaign trail impacts the national Labour GE campaign - which it will!

Rather than trying to save Julie Kirkbride, or anybody else on the Tory side who the voters have decided is a crook despite your support and sympathy, you should be looking to find them all and get them out of the game well before the next election hoves into view. They'll surely almost all be out if they stand anyway...

javelin said...

Iain an MPs has a lot of demands placed upon them. Just like people not all jobs are created equal. There is a strong whiff of political correctness that all jobs should be doable by all people. It isn't true. Most of the jobs can be done by most of the people most of the time, but a lot of jobs can't be done by a lot of people a lot of the time.

I understand you meant that we can't have the experience of a mum. But we can have her experience after her kids go to school full time. Also what about stay at home Dads, why can't they become an MP. Being a good parent is a short career of 19 years. Some stay at home some work. But I think when you are a parent your kids always should come first. If you can't meet your children's needs you need to find a job where you can. It would be great to have a breast feeding Mum on the front benches, but their will eventually be a time when responsibilities to the public conflict with those to your child. And the public have no duty to your child. If banks were allowed to collapse because your child had a bad cold the public would notbe forgiving.

denverthen said...

I think Iain's right about this. There's been some grotty goings-on in that constituency. And there is a serious gulf opening between how Tory MPs are being dealt with and Labour miscreants. There's an increasingly powerful perception that the latter are getting away with it.

PS: A mate just emailed me saying he's just heard you on the radio saying that you didn't understand the disproportionate hostility to Kirkbride. He offered this: the fact that the far left 'Respect' party sent its mischief-making activists into Bromsgrove a few days ago, no doubt with some sort of barracking/infiltration strategy to stir things up against Kirkbride, could provide part of an answer.

The problem is in the constituencies. Tory ones are more likely to deselect candidates than Labour ones (has Shahid Malik been deselected yet? Or Elliot Morley?). This counts doubly so if public outrage is being exploited - even generated - by socialists keen to embarrass Tories and draw attention away from the misdeeds of their own as much as possible. The TV press just goes where the noise is loudest, after all.

So Fausty might be right: she's a victim of a Trot smear campaign. It's just a shame the smears are partly true this time.

Windsor Tripehound said...

Kirkbride had to go, but I agree with you that she was far from being the worst offender.

There are strong signs of the dark arts being employed here. If you are going to look at the financial affairs of couples, how come Balls and Cooper are off the radar? I'm sure that Ed Ball's being a personal friend of the editor of the Telegraph is co-incidental.

Claiming expenses "within the rules" might be unethical, but claiming for a mortgage which doesn't exist is criminal. But hay ho, "moats" and "servants' quarters" and "duck houses" are a bit jokey, so let's focus on them rather than the cabinet ministers with their noses in the trough.

Thomas Rossetti said...

Iain, I wouldn't worry too much about what people like "Dalesman" choose to write. I don't think that he thinks you want to become an MP to fiddle the system any more than I do. It was just something silly to write.

When you write a blog it is inevitable that bored people are going to write nasty, unfounded things about you. Upsetting though it may be, just let them. I'm willing to bet the vast majority of your readers ignore these anonymous comments anyway.

I happen to disagree with you about Julie Kirkbride but I think your motives for supporting her are genuine.

Those that matter know you are a supporter of the Conservative party, not a Tory shill. Let the morons write what they like.

(People like dalesman will probably now reply "It's obvious Thomas Rossetti is Dale's lover" (or something equally moronic). Who cares?)

H.Evans said...

The Conseravtives need to seen to do something postive. The forthcoming Euro-election will give them time to reflect on the G.E.

As a Con voter myself, I shall be voting UKIP - mainly just to tell our "leader" that Im not happy with things. He should have done more. He now looks pathetic, and at worst, part of the problem.

Anonymous said...

She is an egregious trougher, and we are well rid of her. If she wants an extension for a child-minder, she should pay for that herself from her own already very generous salary. Or the child-minder should pay for it. But what I want to know is, is she going to pay back the money?

Bath plugs for the many, not the few said...

The primary duty of a mother of young children is to those children, and no career in politics or in any other field should take precedence.

In any case it is disingenuous of Kirkbride to produce this unconvincing defence at this juncture. She ought to realise: it won't work, nobody's interested, making excuses for fiddling won't impress anyone. Sorry, but goodbye.

Weygand said...

As for her "poor little woman" act, it was not only disingenuous but will have alienated countless women who have to cope with far greater problems than she does and for whom Kirkbridge's lifestyle would seem that of a lottery winner.

Dave pulled the plug (and rather like Tony Blair by letting others do it for him) because he knew it would have been electoral suicide to have done anything else.

Indeed, more interesting than the fate of Kirkbridge is the effect of this carnage on DC. I reckon that he will have become a lot tougher and more ruthless as a result of having to end so many careers.

While this may be regrettable, it is perhaps also a necessary part of preparing him for the tough decisions that will confront him as PM.

David Hughes said...

Iain, by all means hold true to the public service belief that you have - and your defence of Julie Kirkbride is admirable, even if misguided on this occasion.
Good family woman she may be, but her excuses of not knowing what her husband was doing in terms os claims seems to ring as true as Tessa Jowell's not understanding the mortgage arrangements organised by her husband and signed by herself.
If these people are being honest in their lack of knowledge then they have no place at the seat of - or in - government in this country. It is inconceivable that these people do not discuss these matters.
However, you are correct - there are far better candidates than Julie Kirkbride forbeing made to stand down - especially on the government side of the House.
Perhaps a clear out of them would be ideal, therefore clearing places for people who "mean" public service is their ethos - you ? Others ( and never mind the likes of Heffer and Rantzen - pointless posing) ? The system needs tweaking, the people need changing.
And - it did cost the taxpayer for her child-minding arrangements ( try the extension and re-mortgaging to pay for it. That is stretching the necessity for her to undertake her duties to extremes, Iain. The only reason for a forty year old woman with two small children not to go into politics isn't Julie Kirkbride's position - that was caused by both of them going into the House and requiring taxpayers subsidies/extensions/double claiming.
Stand your ground with the family - if you were the poor unfortunate sod who got the Tory candidacy for Bassettlaw, you'd get my vote, though it would do you no good in a place where they would vote for a Garden Gnome if it wore a Labour rosette.

Julie Freeride must go! said...

Ah, you conservative types are all the same, chasing after your squirearchies, thinking it's still ok to ride roughshod over the sensibilities of the lower classes. A hard up single mother on benefits, making fraudulent claims, (not to make life that little easier for their little angus, but doing it to survive without resorting to barbarism), how do you think they are persecuted and prosecuted? Relentlessly, that's how. Well welcome to the real world, courtesy of the parasites you feed off of. Innocent? Don't make me laugh. She was an experienced practitioner of Westminster dark arts and spinning. Just one in a neverending bunch. Remember her predecessor? Roy Thomason? Shuffled out under a dark cloud of fraudulent claims? Now living in fockbury road, dodford (part of her better off constituents, not the sweaty little oiks of the actual town itself) Didn't Heseltine personally pay off the missing money and hush the whole business up? Over 12 years later, and the truth will out. That's the problem with a smallish community, it becomes harder for you to hide your dirty linen. You call it jealousy, we call it comeuppance for your corruption

johnny gravy-train said...

You are quite right that her child-minding arrangements did not cost us a penny. They cost us £50,000.

Your attempts at spin make Coco the Clown look professional.

niconoclast said...

This woman has had to be practically dragged kicking and screaming from office.Have all Tories undergone shame bipass operations?They have been exposed as a party of spivs,chancers and sticky fingered kleptos bereft of moral probity and principle.A Party rotting from the head down and steeped in moral relativism.All Tories go native as soon as they hit the Westminster Village.They are parasites in a parasitic system.The only honour they have is the honour amongst thieves.
All the while we have a system where politicians can practice vicarious philantrhopy with tax payers money they will maintain their delusions of virtue and culture of entitlement.

Chris Saunders said...

People should want to become an MP to make a difference. Not a difference to their bank balance and lifestyle, but to the lives of their constituents and the country.
Most (not all) MP's have massive egos and love the sound of their own voice. They think they are part of the elite and look down on everyone else.
You state that "friends and family question why you would wish to be an MP if you are treated like this". If you're honest, principled, talk straight and treat people fairly, you have nothing to worry about.
If however, as it seems in your partisan world, you are so oblivious to the views of ordinary people, maybe friends and family can see the writing on the wall.

Julie Kirkbride's family situation is an irrelevance. If her brother can't home himself and keep in touch with his nephew that's not the taxpayers problem. You do youself no favours by repeating these so lame excuses. Try getting out into the "real world".

Jimmy said...

It's hard to sympathise with tories who gleefully pounded away at this apparently on the bizarre assumption that the press would leave them out of it. If the opposition hadn't treated this as a point scoring exercise it would have been far more manageable.

Me said...

Couldn't disagree with you more, Iain. Maybe you're just too close to too many politicians.

Anonymous said...

Iain, women who work and their partners organise and pay for their childcare and are OUTRAGED at JK's attempt to play this particular card.

It was so clearly nonsense right from the start. Each little point built up into the cumulative mass of serious questions to answer. (and this is assuming you believe that she knew nothing of her husband's claims.)


British women certainly (and I had assumed you too) are far too intelligent to be taken in by such spin, as I am afraid it can only be described.

Mike Law said...

Iain,

I'm confused; is the Telegraph lying about the £50,000 extension to her second home to house her brother?

Individuals' motives for becoming MPs (or even local councillors) may well be noble (and from my experience I'm sure that is true); However, where the wheels start to come off is a lack of any independent scrutiny.

It's all well and good going on about how this MP or that has abused the expenses system (and I'm as angry as most), but until there is a viable system of scrutiny of those elected to represent us in any governing body this nonsense will go on and on in some form or another.

Scrutineer said...

Of course, the taxpayer should pay for the live in nanny...isn't that current Shadow Cabinet (Spelman) policy?

RuralObserver said...

Ian

But think of a forty year old woman with a couple of kids, who is thinking about going into politics. Think how this episode will affect her thought process. Julie Kirkbride quit, at least in part, over her child minding arrangements. I think most of them would realise how jolly easy it would be to arrange really good childcare on a salary of £65K so wouldn't see it as an impediment. (Especially if the other parent had a similar salary).

And Mr and Mrs MacKay's chosen childminding arrangements DID cost the taxpayer to the tune of £250 per month.

Ms Kirkbride's justifiations, whilst understandable at the the most superficial level, indicate she is not in a position to adequately represent parents in Parliament.

The greatest struggles in family life are those to do with juggling family needs, childcare, employment and money. It's all very, very hard.

It is much harder on a much, much lower income and no helpful taxpayer to foot the bills.

She has also single-handedly perpetuated the cultural view that children are the sole responsibility of the mother. Did Mr MacKay not have any role to play in the byzantine arrangements for the care of the child who is presumably his too?

At another level of society this would be regarded as a case of a low-life absentee father and a single mother scrounging from the state whilst making chaotic, informal arrangements for her child in pursuit of her own personal gratification, no?

Anonymous said...

Sorry but you are COMPLETELY OUT OF ORDER here. The woman and her husband defrauded the taxpayer. She had to go. End of story.

Nothing that has come out since the original revelations has changed my mind about this. Quite the reverse.

This woman was NOT a victim. Get over it. What's gotten into you? Have you taken leave of your senses?

Begone! said...

Her childcare did cost the taxpaye money - the interest on a second mortgage to pay for an extension to house her brother.

Many working women have similar problems - but they can't get their employer to pay to extend their house to create a nanny-flat. And if they did, the Revenue would demand 40% as a tax on benefits in kind.

Catosays said...

Iain,
I'm sure others have said it but just in case they haven't: Stop trying to defend the indefensible.

It won't wash and you know it. We, the people, have had enough of being treated like scum and quite honestly I'm surprised there haven't been riots.

Helen said...

What Ms Kirkbride and all her colleagues did was to double their salaries without paying tax on it. Not to do so does not require any special sacrifice because the rest of the world cannot do so. The reason is, of course, that every time there was talk of putting up salaries openly there was immediate discussion as to what MPs actually do. Didn't want that so they awarded themselves a nifty little tax-free raise. Neat, huh?

The real question is why did the media go after Ms Kirkbride. She is a former hack herself and they usually protect their own. Whose toes did she step on?

Anonymous said...

Kirkbride should have left earlier, however it is ridiculous that today both SKY and the BBC made such a big deal out of her employing her sister and the wife of someone on the local Conservative Committee.

Has nobody heard of the valuable contributions made by a VA (Virtual Assistant) ? and if she has been employing both women for the past 12 years, why only now is it a crime?

Far better to employ people who are loyal to the MP and the Party rather than some unknown who could so easily misuse sensitive information about local constituents who contact their MP for help and advice.

As for the many here commenting on the size of her home and the 50K to extend it, please take the time to listen or read and you will see that far from living in the country pile she only had a flat there and she only claimed the interest on the loan not the whole 50K

When so many have the attention span of a gnat, what hope is there?

Thatsnews said...

So, let's see... Brown does bugger-all, apart from his 'Macavity the mystery cat' act, Cameron gets rid of allegedly dodgy MPs, makes proposals to fix the situation, and it is Cameron who is excoriated as being a coward?

Rabid Re-buttall Squad at work, perhaps?

English First said...

81% of Conservative members wanted her to go. I would say around 95% of the population.

She was a coward who wouldn`t even face her electorate!

Good riddance!

Morley & Hoon next!!

Chingford Cath said...

I'm a 47 year old woman with three kids. And a basic rate tax payer. Hasn't stopped me standing as a PPC. Watching the kangaroo court of public opinion being meejah-fed by the Daily Terror-graph reminds me of what ol' Chomsky said in "Manufacturing Consent" about the propaganda model - you remember - "... the media serve and propagandise on behalf of the powerful societal interests that control and finance them". Whose interests are served by destroying the credibility of the governing class in the eyes of the public? The whole affair being sold as "in the public interest" is an inversion of public interest. The not-so-hidden ideological messages are that political work is directly harmful to the public good, that all politicians cannot be trusted, that government itself is somehow against the interests of the people. And the great beneficiaries of this propaganda? Private commercial interest and the finance houses who have so much to lose if a strong government of the people and for the people ever did come into play. I pity the hordes of hacks at the DT whose investigative skills are being so misused, but it's one hell of a job creation scheme. When you run out of people to crucify there's always 646 more coming down the road.

Helen said...

Which party are you standing for, Chingford Cath? Not the Conservatives, I trust.

Weygand said...

@ Chingford Cath

What a stream of consciousness that was.

One meandering flow - not even paragraphs to give a clue.

Yet plenty of pre-packaged, regurgitated ideas all tied up with a Chomsky bow; but 'signifying nothing'.

And your point was?

As for myself, well off, middle aged, over-educated, white male that I am, I find the idea of a 'governing class' most disturbing and to be opposed at every opportunity.

And to suggest that that pillar of conservatism (small c) which is the DT is anti-establishment is ludicrous.

David Hughes said...

Thatsnews said "Brown .... Macavity cat". True to an extent BUT, where's Mandelson gone - is he doing to Brown what Brown did to Blair (a Macavity impression)? Disappearing when the Brown stuff hits the fan ? ( capital intended)
To the bookies - for a bet on Mandelson becoming P.M. whilst unanswerable when sitting in the Lords !
Sorry, conspiracy theory alert !
I'lltake an aspirin and lay down !

Mike Law said...

Chingford Cath...

What???

Chomsky... now there's a man known for his measured and balanced musings.

Anonymous said...

It does not matter that there are more "deserving cases" Iain - what she did was wrong. And to criticise the dead tree media is a bit rich - so you have never attacked anyone?

Chingford Cath said...

Hi Weygand - my virgin piece for Iain was carefully crafted. I'm afraid I'm not gifted in the html department like your good self. Try not to let the lack of style detract from the substance.

My point is that the Daily T IS looking after the interests of the traditional ruling elite by allowing David Cameron to centralise his power over his remaining troops. Nothing like a good purge "to encourage the others" (that's from Voltaire's Candide, don't cha know?)

Helen, I think you'll find the Conservative seat in pocket borough Chingford already has a bum on it? I swing the other way.

Chris Saunders said...

Chingford Cath .....you'll have no problem fitting in at all, will you?

anonaLon said...

In Russia, they used to have a shortage of bath plugs. I wonder if their MP's claimed for them?

Alexis said...

are you SERIOUS?

I don't know much about Kirkbride (I live in Australia) as a person. I get the impression she is a nice person and wonderful constituency MP but has obtained advantage via the public purse and behaved abominably. When someone at my office did something similar (but regarding sums about 1/100th as big) he was told to clear his desk and informed that he was lucky the police weren't going to investigate (assuming he went quietly). How on earth can the taxpayer be responsible for her renovations in any way? Do you not realise there are people out there facing EVICTION who are still paying income tax to finance this rot?????

Of COURSE people will still go into Parliament. They will have to settle for motel rooms rather than renovating ancient cottages. By the way our MPs here in Australia generally split the rent on small flats with other MPs in Canberra. I've seen how it all works close up - not very luxurious, but when you're getting up at 5am to prepare speeches who cares where you sleep (unless you are trying to make a profit).

Junius said...

Really you lot - you're like a baying pack of hounds.

If foxes are killing the hens, you don't go gunning for the cats you fools.

This is baby stuff to what the Labour politicians have stashed away out of our money - but you just don't get it.

This woman had to go because she was an easy target. Bet you haven't got the guts to start baying after the blood of Blairs, Darling, Brown et al.

Mob mentality - it's pathetic.

Johnny Norfolk said...

Think you have been blind to this one Iain. Please do not defend what she has done just because you like her, better to keep quiet, as it looks like you are tared with the same brush.

chris-p said...

You have skipped the most important point: the concerted attempt to hoodwink the public by hiding the secret of MP's expenses. The vigour, determination and non-partisan attitude of MP's was exemplary, but only because they were united against the public! JK, like the rest, has no excuse in this dismal failure of democracy.

dalesman said...

Ian, I wasn't making accusations, I just can't understand why you would have second thoughts about becoming an MP if you are honourable.
I have no reason to think you are not, and that being the case why would there be a problem?

The people who are being vilified have been cheats and frauds. Anyone who is not has nothing to fear.

Sorry if I offended you, that was certainly not my intention.

Anonymous said...

I presume that Iain Dale will press for childcare to be an allowable expense against tax in the next conservative manifesto, in order to improve the lot of women in the workforce? Because that's at the heart of the fragrant Ms Kirkbride's case: that she was able to get her childcare arrangements out of her pre-tax income.

Hunter-Gatherer said...

what about the keens. Those troughers seem to have got off scott free. Maybe they will become Lord and Lady Keen after the next election.

Anonymous said...

Ian, you remind me of my local Conservative Association.

Local Political Associations are tribal; most will go down rather than admit their "man/woman" is in the wrong thus confirming they themselves are the bigger fools or worse for supporting a toughing MP.

Your loyalty is creditworthy of course, don't blame the media blame those that put party before country.

Blame those that did not want transparency and tried so hard to stop it.

Not the messenger.

Anonymous said...

There are some things we Brits do better than any other people in the world, and sanctimony on an industrial scale is surely one of them. This is the nation that three times has voted in New Labour, despite evidence from the outset that it would be the most mendacious government in British history. Where has been the anger over the insouciant spending of much, much larger sums of public money, the casual protection of our borders, the endless flow of petty legislation etc. etc.?

Weygand said...

@ Chingford Cath

If you want to pose as an intellectual you must learn to stop dropping names; only two posts and already done it twice.

It is always more impressive to express clearly what you have to say and explain your own argument for saying it.

As for Voltaire, he would have identified the troughing MPs as the modern day incarnation of the Church against which he fought all his life and thus would have welcomed attempts to achieve a more effective democracy.

The whole point was that we do not live in "le meilleur des mondes possibles" and we should try to make it better.

Mark said...

"think of a forty year old woman with a couple of kids, who is thinking about going into politics."

Like M Thatcher? Like E Currie?

You don't have to bilk the taxpayer.

Anonymous said...

Iain, don't harbour any doubts, you are made for politics. Anyone who can defend what Julie Kirkbride (one of the leader's friends) did, is made for politics. When you get elected and choose to hire your brother - who lives 140 miles away - give not a thought for your constituents who now know that none of them is good enough to work for you - or care for your children.
And when they find out how low is your opinion of them - don't be surprised if they vote you out of office - that is what makes our electoral system such fun.

Helen said...

Helen, I think you'll find the Conservative seat in pocket borough Chingford already has a bum on it? I swing the other way. I thought your adoration of the strong state (hmm, well-known in history) was a little too rich even for the Tories to stomach. Well, I hope so, anyhow.

Bearded Socialist said...

Is it terrible that a Tory is getting criticised, when clearly everything is Labour's fault. I mean, the facts about the houses thing AND the photos have nothing to do with it and really she's just been hounded out of office by a nasty media.

Pull the other one Mr Dale, accept that this is NOT all about Party politics

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous coward,

1. I don't have a brother
2. I don't have children
3. At the last election I made pledges a) not to employ family members b) to publish detailed expenses online c) to live in the constituency d) not to have second jobs.

Now go and swivel.

Chingford Cath said...

Helen - "a strong government of the people and by the people" which is what I wrote is not the same as "a strong state." I am in favour of distribution of power and wealth in our society.

What I see after the next election is the concentration of power in David Cameron's hands with the most supine set of Parliamentarians ever elected (which will take some doing) and no chance of serious reform. The Guardian piece was a sham. I bet he had his fingers crossed behind his back at the time.

Iain, as a PPC, I can't wait for the election to be called so we can get to hear David Cameron's policies for the rest of us. I am sure you'll be first to let us know if you spot anything really meaningful. Useful policy ideas seem to be as rare in both parties as moral fibre or common sense. I blame the lack of intellectuals at the top.

Weygand - Since you have accused me of "posing as an intellectual" - rather a sweet term of abuse - I feel compelled to drop another name in case I disappoint anyone, but I'll let you work out the relevance. Carole Pateman.

Anonymous said...

The tumbril drivers and knitting ladies make an issue of the fact that Miss K hired a secretary who lived 140 miles from her constiuency. What happened to the age of the internet all of a sudden? Are all those people who work from home just wasting their time? The public discourse on the expenses saga is now becoming truly infantile. The victims are being chosen at random. It's not a pleasant sight. I think I might leave the country for while, before the despair gets to me.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it time we saw the emergence of a backlash against this bile-flavoured, sanctimonious witchhunt, and its fellow travellers?
We can all accept that rules have been loosely drawn up and weakly policed, and that more than a few of our representatives have been venal or stupid, but the sad truth is that if you permit something advantageous it will eventually, especially in a closed, hothouse culture like Westminster, come to be utilised. Few of us are wholly innocent or could withstand a thorough and public examination of our actions over a lifetime. I read this morning that 7 million of us illegally download (steal) copywrite material. Most of us in our lives have paid some tradesman cash, to our mutual advantage, and the taxman's disadvantage. None of this seems to preclude the 'great British public' from full participation in the fun of the lynching, whipped on by tax dodging hypocrites who control our newspaper industry.
There are serious issues out there; Afghanistan, North Korea, the imminent bankruptcy of the UK economy. Can we not move on, and let sober reflection and judgement take over? Less fun I suppose though.

Anonymous said...

I entirely agree with the previous "Anonymous". (I am the "Anonymous" before that - I would use a more imaginative name but I am not sure how to do this.) As with all revolutions, the mob has now abandoned rational appraisal. When the French revolutionaries stormed the Bastille, they soon realised they had better put some of the prisoners back inside!

Weygand said...

As 18th century France and intellectual snobbery seems to be getting a lot of attention today; please accept this point of information.

Although dear Voltaire spent time in the Bastille, by the time it was stormed it only held 7 prisoners, none of whom were there for political reasons and none of whom could have gone back because it was demolished shortly after.

Anonymous said...

Au contraire, two of them were put back inside because they were found to be dangerous lunatics.

But I do accept that, under the New Labour regime, rational thought (in fact, any thought) has been dropped from the curriculum.

Anonymous said...

"If you do it for the money, you really are doing it for the wrong reasons."

So you won't be claiming a salary then, Ian?

Weygand said...

The two lunatics may have been 'put back inside' but they were not actually reincarcerated in the demolished Bastille but at Charenton.

Let's agree on this and call it quits before we are banned from this thread - even though this point is far more interesting than Kirkbride.

Tim Almond said...

"No woman with small children in their right mind will look at a political career if things carry on like this."

I don't mind women with small children wanting a career in politics, but I want it with two cavaets:-

1) the rules apply to you, just like any employer working in any company. If you can't work within those rules, find another career.
2) Don't whine at me about your personal life and how you had to do this to give your kids a better life. You're not a cleaner on minimum wage who is struggling to live. You're earning £60,000+ with generous travel and pension arrangements. If you can't manage your own work/life balance, maybe you should take a lower paid job that suits you better (and not at the next election).

Anonymous said...

I am all of the previous anonymouses and I think it's pretty unimaginative of me to post anonymous stuff on this blog and be entirely inconsistent and contradictory. I think Iain should killfile anonymous posters like me as it will encourage my paranoia and I could finally be persuaded to go and seek professional help with this problem.