Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In Defence of Julie Kirkbride

I have been emailed this letter from former Conservative MP, Richard Needham. Seeing as ConHome and Guido are having a veritable feeding frenzy over Julie Kirkbride, I thought it important to publish it in full and show the other side of the story.


Several months ago we asked Andrew MacKay and Julie Kirkbride to come and stay for a few days over the Bank Holiday Weekend with their son Angus.
Little did I expect to witness the public and relentless execution paper by paper, news report by news report, hour by hour, of a decent, hardworking, minor public figure who has been ruthlessly hounded as if she was a major public enemy. Guilty until proved innocent has been the media mantra over the last few days.

Almost every Sky and BBC news report involves sending a ‘team’ to discover what the locals in Bromsgrove are saying about Julie. This entails interviewing those signing a ‘Julie Must Go’ petition being organised by George Galloway’s Respect Party. (Not that I have heard that mentioned by Sky or the BBC).

Those signing have two simple points to make ‘I think its disgusting what she has done’ and ‘if we did anything like this we’d be in prison’. Well, no actually, they would not. So what exactly is Julie accused of?

Firstly by being married to Andrew MacKay she is tarred with his brush. The fact that he has fallen on his sword means the spotlight swivels onto her. There are several Cabinet Ministers who enjoyed grace and favour residences and thereby failed the ‘reasonableness’ test on claiming for second home allowances like Andrew.

They remain in post and in residence and one would have thought were more worthy of media outrage than Julie who after all, as David Cameron pointed out, has a perfectly legitimate claim while living in London and owning a flat in her constituency.

But the accusations now levelled against her drip by drip, day by day, are to do with her employing or using members of her family to help run her family and parliamentary life.
There are millions of small businesses where family members help out in one way or the other. In doctors or dentists surgeries, in small legal practices, in shops, in factories, wherever you look families are helping each other and many of them rely for their income from the public purse.
So Julie lets her brother live rent free in a small bedroom in her constituency flat in return for which he looks after Angus weekend after weekend. (For the avoidance of doubt I know he does because I have seen it). He helps her buy IT equipment for her office use because he knows about it and she does not. He sets up her website and does what a retired elder brother might do for his sister anywhere else in the country without comment or vilification.

Julie also employs her sister part-time who happens to live in Dorset. The accusation is that because she lives in Dorset she can’t know anything about Bromsgrove. Nonsense, if she’d lived in London they wouldn’t complain and no doubt she has been to Bromsgrove often enough. She’s a professional woman who is networked into Julie’s office both in Westminster and in the constituency and her job is to deal with Julie’s constituents problems when Julie’s full time PA is away or on holiday.

The media is now so wound up about Julie’s family involvement that I am surprised she is not being compared to Silvio Berlusconi!

For me, there is something depressingly familiar about all of this. Nearly twenty years ago while a Minister in Northern Ireland I was given an RUC mobile phone on which, on a windy mountain top near Newry, I called Margaret Thatcher a ‘cow’ to my wife in faraway England. Little did I know the IRA, or another paramilitary organisation, were taping my calls with crystal clarity and passed on this little gem (or sold it through intermediaries) to the Sunday Times who used it to embarrass the Prime Minister and stitch me up.

No-one, except for a letter writer in the Spectator ever questioned the behaviour of the Sunday Times, nobody cared about my privacy, or was interested in my record in Ulster. All hell let loose. Off with his head! He always was indiscreet! He’s putting policemen’s lives at risk by using a mobile phone etc, etc. Go on television they cried, defend yourself! No-one wanted to know. Being filleted by Robin Day for two minutes would only have made everything worse. Luckily for me, a week later Geoffrey Howe intervened, Maggie went and I clung on. Julie Kirkbride does not have a Geoffrey Howe right now!

When I became an MP in 1979 BBC2 did a half hour programme entitled ‘The Honourable Member’s Wife’. It took four years in the making and followed Sissy around from becoming the candidate’s spouse, to the MP’s PA. I came out of it bossy and crotchety, Sissy came out of it as a Saint. She has been my aide, bookkeeper, diary secretary, typist and surrogate MP for the ten years I was a minister. Without her working with me I could have achieved almost nothing. When she said she had had enough of politics I handed in my notice. In those far off days the BBC seemed to believe that involving family members was a worthwhile, cost effective and beneficial thing to do. In Julie’s case the media are giving the impression that she is behaving like a member of the Cosa Nostra.

Of course, the circus will soon move on and Julie may or may not survive – although I pray she does. But it will leave behind a badly damaged family, a little boy who may face a torrid time at school and a horrible taste that anyone can be treated as guilty of misusing their position, misusing public funds and tarnishing democracy when all Julie Kirkbride has ever, ever done is what she believes was the best for her constituents, her party and her country.

What young mum will want to go to the Mother of Parliaments now?

I'm publishing this with little comment from me, as it speaks for itself. All I would say is that the pack of wolves circling Julie Kirkbride at the moment seems determined to get a kill and will exploit any sign of apparent weakness in her arrangements, even when they know full well that in reality she has done nothing wrong in employing her sister to cover for her secretary when she's on holiday or away, or I would submit, having her retired brother look after her son or help her with technology needs. Julie can defend herself on those two issues, but perhaps the media - especially Sky News - might like to defend its reporting of the petition in Bromsgrove. The woman behind it is a leading light in George Galloway's Respect party, yet as far as I know this fact hasn't been mentioned once. She's portrayed as some kind of heroic local citizen. And so she may be, but shouldn't her political background be transparent?

Endnote: I am sure that having posted this I will come in for a lot of flak. Whenever I defend a Tory in trouble I am accused of all sorts of things and motives. Over the last few weeks and months I have taken many Tory MPs to task over their expenses - Alan Duncan andJames Gray to name but two. So I am not blind to the failings of Tory MPs in this area. But I'm damned if I am going to stand by and see a young woman who is an excellent MP and done little wrong, so far as I can see, be trashed without the other side of the story being put. Disagree with me in the comments if you like, but do it in a measured and reasoned way. I give due warning now that I am not going to allow anonymous commenters to make lurid allegations. If you want to comment strongly, at least have the guts to put your name to your words.

182 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here here.

Its important that the people who have done little wrong are defended, and those who have misused the system continue to be vilified. Without the distinction between the two, the political system will come to far more harm than has been inflicted by some selfish dishonourable members.

Waiting for Gordo said...

The issue is not surely that she has done nothing wrong re: ACA, but the fact that her husband did, surely there is a complicit act.

She did not stop her husband making the erroneous expenses, ergo she is guilty by association.

I think a lot more 'family issues' will come out in the press. She is not alone. Although how much is sensational (Twitty-esque) and how much is just mischief making remains to be seen.

VotR said...

A cull is coming, alas. And it is not only wanted, but needed. Even I can weep for troughers, but I will take no pleasure in the demise of another persons career, even if it is necessary to do so and therefore destroy most, if not all, sources of corruption in the halls of power.

There will *proabably* be no survivors if the political parties want to create a cleaner image for themselves.

Cameron may find he has no choice but to have a 'special conversation' with her soon, for the good of the Tory party, if not for the sake of an individual MP as has happened to others. One it would seem, cannot be made to look more special or favoured than another.

That would make Cameron appear weak, something I personally think he will not allow.

Anonymous said...

Well said Mr Needham. The whole thing stinks. Let's hope there's someone with the balls to take the press on next.

Anonymous said...

As a couple, did they or did they not claim twice on the same home?

cjcjc said...

"There are millions of small businesses where family members help out in one way or the other."

Not with my money though.

Crikey, I wouldn't employ this guy as my defence counsel!

Anonymous said...

Your Blog Ian.

You comment on things as you see them, you are not afraid to explore all aspects of a subject, and are not afraid of respectful criticism.

That does not mean I always agree with you, but never the less here I am again!

My only real comment would be if I were an elected MP, would I have done any different over my expenses claims.

I like to think so, but then I’m not so sure.

It’s a bit of a worry.

Guthrum said...

I understand where you are coming from in terms of loyalty to your party's MP's

However you cannot have a situation as I heard on Radio 4 when a young mother received a Police Caution because the DSS thought she had been over paid by £200, she had not been, but still received the visit from the Police and no apology was received for the distress caused by the mistake, and Kirkbride is treated with kidgloves.

We have had twelve years of threatening adverts on the TV of the 'we know where you live' variety, for benefit fraud/car tax/TV licences, then you find that these people have been involved in passing these Laws, have just treated public money as their own and feel it is their entitlement. They have not got the accounting expertise of running a sweet shop.

The anger/fury is a natural backlash, against the background of jobs going to the wall, and homes lost.

You will find very little sympathy outside the Westminster Village

Anonymous said...

i don't get your point, Iain. She and her husband arranged a system whereby they paid literally none of their own living expenses, on either of their homes, and the taxpayer paid literally all of them. In what possible way is this okay?

nabidana said...

Julie Kirkbride is an excellent, conscientious and very effective MP, whom I've had the distinct and high pleasure of meeting at several lobbies of Parliament, and when Andrew was Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. The wolves circling her are so deeply full of self-righteous bullshit it makes me gag.

For every person having a go at Julie Kirkbride for behaving within the spirit and letter of the rules, I would dearly love to investigate their insurance claims, tax certificates, expenses...

Iain, you're exactly right to defend Julie, to highlight her excellent record in public service, and to expose the Respect mob for what they are; driven by hate, fuelled by envy and utterly unprincipled.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

What a load of self-serving tosh. They would not go to jail only because they are party to the most fatuous rules of governance in modern Britain.

Personally, I'd be happy to let them skip jail and just put their greedy heads on a pike outside Wastemonster instead.

Alex said...

1) Mackay and Kirkbride claimed for 2 "second home" allowances without actuyllay having a first home.

2) There are too many family connections to Kirkbride's expenses to conclude that they represent good value for tax payers.

Other professionals are subject to this level of scrutiny by professional bodies and their organisations (ask any accountant about independence rules) even if not by the press. If MPs can't hack it, they should pack their bags and leave.

pete_s said...

On the telly on channel 4 news, a reporter went to her constituency office. It was maned, with staff, even though they would not let him in. Kirkbride, decided to pay her sister 140 miles away to do a job, that would be better done by a local. The families ethos is nepotism first, constituency second, she must go.

Richard Abbot said...

You are too close to the establishment to see things clearly Iain. Punishment comes in mysterious ways and many, many of the MP's suffering now have been complicit in the decline of this country over 12 long years. Yes Tories are complicit because they were such a spineless opposition. I have no sympathy for these people.
We need to stop talking about politics and start looking at governance.

digger said...

it's not the brother,it's not the sister.It's the fact that she must have known what her husband was doing.She knew in 2007 as is proven by the fact that the radio journalist on local radio put it to her on the piece featured on HIGNFY.

whther she is innocent/guilty before or after the fact is for the court of public opinion.

Anonymous said...

To pick on just one item : She needed a constituency secretary to do some work on her behalf and then could only think of her sister living in Dorset? Come off it Iain, was there no one in her constituency who might have needed the job?
Just like Callaghan when he needed a new ambassador to go to Washington and could only think of his son-in-law.

Adam Fairclough said...

"Guilty until proven innocent"... this government has been introducing disgraceful and intrusive new legislation so that they are able to read, monitor and track individuals with little consequence or justification - British society is increasingly becoming a guilty until proven innocent society because of Labour, specifically Jacqui Smith's, outrageous ideas. This idea has now backfired on the government - we are watching them too.

What we are witnessing is a symptom of this "GUPI" society, and unless the survellance culture is curbed, politicians must be prepared to experience these kinds of backlashes.

Nigel Allery said...

If JK is so guilt free then let's hope The Party stand by her.

Companies I have worked for simply did not let me employ family members. I see no reason why MP's should be different. HR practice is to employ the best person for the job, eliminating nepotism, and racism or gender descrimination.

Child care - does Parliament have a creche? Should it have one to aid lady and family members?

Gareth said...

"young woman"?

I wish these commentators would get the "mother of all parliaments' quote right - "ENGLAND is the mother of all parliaments" not Westminster.

The point on small businesses employing family is a good one. I'm sure trust is a major factor in this.

Anon 11:13,

I'm fairly sure Mackay and Kirkbride claimed expenses on different homes, it's just that each one was claiming on the other's designated main residence.

The point remains - they were both complicit in this set up.

David Logan said...

I am not as clear as I thought on the facts here. My understanding is that AM claimed second allowance on one home and JK on their second so that as a couple they has 2 second homes subsidised by the taxpayer and no primary home. If that is right they should both go. If I am wrong I would be grateful if that was made clear because I am not the only one to get that impression from the Telegraph.
The issue about employment of family members seems a red herring to me. I can understand post Conway there is always a question of whether work was in fact being done but the evidence seems to be that it was.

Benny Austwick said...

I'm glad I'm not an MP now, I'd probably have done the same

cjcjc said...

She was doomed the moment her putting down the phone after an awkward question was aired on HIGNFY.

She knew then she had something to hide. How does Needham defend that (at best) cowardice?

The longer she hides now, the more certain her doom becomes.

Mike Law said...

"What young mum will want to go to the Mother of Parliaments now?"

How about one that can pursuade members of her family to help her out without dipping into the public purse?

"The woman behind it is a leading light in George Galloway's Respect party, yet as far as I know this fact hasn't been mentioned once. She's portrayed as some kind of heroic local citizen. And so she may be, but shouldn't her political background be transparent?"

Why? That's as weak as the old chestnut "S/he would say that wouldn't s/he."

Tom Paine said...

I am sure the title of the post alone is worth a ton of traffic, but let's not all fall into the trap you set with your endnote! MPs are entitled to reasonable expenses. Contrary to the interpretation of the word by such as Nadine Dorries, "expenses" are not supplements to income. They are designed to ensure that a person doing a job does not suffer financially by having to incur costs which are related to the performance of their duties. The much-cited "rules" in the Green Book actually make that crystal clear. David Cameron should apply this litmus test to his MPs expenses; were they (a) claimed as expenses (see above) or were they (b) claimed to make the claimant richer than s/he would otherwise have been. If (b) and the MP won't resign immediately, he should call their constituency chair and ask her/him politely to initiate deselection so the abuse does not tarnish the party at the next election. It's really a very simple test and would satisfy the voters. One can only infer that the reason he doesn't apply it is either (a) that it would catch him or (b) that it would catch too many of his best people to allow him to govern after the next election. Either inference (and the people are intelligent enough to draw them) is damaging to the Conservatives.

Brett Trevalyan said...

Guilty or innocent? Doesn't matter at all now. Fact is, she'll lose her seat if she stays. Ergo, she has to go.

Real-politik, I believe it is called - although I may be misinterpreting that.

Same is true of Nadine Dorries and Ann Main. It may not be just, but it is reality.

Anonymous said...

He called Margaret Thatcher "A COW" and then has the audacity to say he was stitched up? Cameron dismisses unsalaried students from the party for life for saying far tamer things.

Anonymous said...

Iain, did you see Have I Got News for You? She was asked about her home allowance years ago and hung up on the questioner! She should have lost her seat then.

Tithonus said...

"Oh for that warning voice, which he who saw/ The Apocalypse, heard cry in heaven aloud."While I vehemently disagree with branding all politicians as fraudulent participants in a national scandal, the Kirkbride situation is microcosmic enough to prove that 'these people' don't really think - even about themselves.

Taking morality out of the equation, self-awareness ought to have dictated that she should have realised her husband was rather blatant in his claiming.

She deserves to be pilloried for her stupidity - not for anything else.

Anonymous said...

But Iain, the point surely is this.

There may be far worse than Julie Kirkbride. But if they had been open and transparent about publishing MPs expenses years ago, such a 'feeding frenzy' would not have existed, as the file would not have had 'scoop value'.

By denying this information to the press, it becomes like those shots taken by subterfuge by paparazzi - you know it is wrong, but secrecy has given the papers something very valuable.

I am sorry if people get caught up in 'collateral damage' but when people feel spied upon, taxed to the hilt and with their liberties infringed, one cannot help but escape the conclusion that people think 'what is sauce for the goose..' and want to see them getting a taste of their own medicine.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

I have to second Guthrum's comment.

The little people do not get cut much slack, so why should politicians?

All of us occasionally step over the line, even if it is doing 80mph on the motorway (note to authorities, I have never done this - it is sooo bad)and that means also in our private lives; we upset friends or we bugger up relationships through lower motives. Sometimes, not all the time. Very few people can be described as thoroughly bad or corrupt.

As far as I understand it, Mrs Mackay had a nice little earner going which, in retrospect was perhaps dubious.

Guthrum's point stays firm, however, which is that the police are tiptoeing around the wider issue, when some poor sod who is the victim of civil service incompetence (and I have had this too) gets a visit from the plod and a caution.

Nobody likes this.

Your defence of Ms Kirkbride is understandable to me, but perhaps jarrs a bit with the zeitgeist.

The Huntsman said...

You may or may not be right in this.

The problem is the reality: she has been a headline story for far too long and is becoming a serious distraction.

There is a valid question mark over several individual items which call for a detailed explanation and also the cumulative effect of so many and varied claims.

As such she has effectively lost the value of incumbency. Unfair it may be but sadly she has become, rightly or wrongly, a serious liability in the absolutely vital business of ensuring that a Conservative is returned in her seat at the next GE.

Her continuing as the Tory candidate here now risks the loss of that seat to an anti-sleaze candidate. This is particularly so now that she seems unwilling to address at all legitimate questions over her expenses. Disaster beckons.

I am afraid that the business of ejecting Gordon Brown and his rabble from office is far more important than the political career of Miss Kirkbride. She can now render no more valuable service than that she quits the field.

That may be unfair. Sadly both life and politics can be like that.

Slim Jim said...

It is unfortunate that many MPs are being tarred with the same brush, but the bottom line is that they ARE all being dragged down by the worst offenders. The political class is sowing what it reaps! If Julie Kirkbride is forced to stand down, then let her stand as an Independent at the next election. Do you think the voters of Bromsgrove would vote her back in?

Sean Haffey said...

There is a real problem that MPs are being painted in black and white: either heroes or villains. The reality is not so simple.

In criminal law, we wouldn't expect anyone who was tried to be either found innocent or face a life sentence. However, the hype behind these expenses stories almost demands this kind of approach to our MPs.

There are some MPs who are clearly "clean". There are some who have clearly broken the rules and may indeed be guilty of criminal offences. But there are many whose names and faces have appeared in the press who either made small genuine mistakes or in retrospect (and aren't things easy in retrospect?) made slightly questionable claims.

I know of one MP who has many years of excellent service to his constituents and his country, yet who is being vilified about some claims he made. He was immediately fulsome in his apologies, made no attempt to hide behind the rules and repaid the money. The dodgy claims amount to a tiny fraction of 1% of the salary he's been paid over the years. Yet, to his great distress, he is being tarred with the same brush as those who flipped homes, dodged taxes and so on. I suspect - I don't know the details - it was a simple misjudgement that he made on the spur of the moment ("Oh, can I claim such-and-such? Great"), with no malice or greed behind it whatsoever.

I think there are many cases like this where repayment is adequate sanction. The public humiliation has added to the punishment. Firing (de-selecting) would be way over the top.

Please can we use our God-given intelligence to treat these cases on their merits?

Anonymous said...

Every crisis is an opportunity..

Step forward, Iain Dale, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate !!

Look on the bright side, Iain, it is a tough game in politics. The weak do not survive, so be strong and be prepared...

Thats News said...

That's a very good letter and makes some good points.


Julie Kirkbride update… Incidentally, where's Gordon?

Ed Balls MP said...

Has anyone seen me lately?

Anonymous said...

Geoff H here (I can't be bothered to register for a Google account)

You have forgotten, as has Richard Needham, that Kirkbride and Mackay, arranged their first and second homes, in effect, to jointly double claim the second home allowance.

Apart from the fact that they were, presumably, living together and thus in natural justice only one allowance should have been payable, if one was culpable, then both were.

They had two homes together. The allowance claims suggested that they had three - at least - and jointly lived together in a non-existent primary home.

Further Mackay 'lied' about having a second home in his Bracknell constituency home.

She must have been complicit in all of this.

There is no excuse.

davefromluton said...

I see very little difference between the positions of Margaret Moran and Julie Kirkbride. Both claim that they have done everything in accordance with 'the rules'
If one goes, so should the other - and the sooner the better

Dave said...

I'm a little confused. I thought the original story was that they were both claiming for different second homes. I also understand that she was question about this a couple of yeas ago and hung up.

Are they actually husband and wife -but live in completely different homes? Do they keep their finances hidden from each other. Did they not notice that they both had a little bit extra money coming in?

Of course all of this is possible and whilst odd -that's their personal private life choice...but is it plausible?

Gecko said...

Defending the indefensible! Totally agree that the Labour pigs should be higher up the agenda for destruction...but given the media bias in this country there is little chance of that. However, the fact that others are worse is NO DEFENCE. If the tories want to be seen as a "clean" party, and to attract natural tory voters back to them, then they need to act decisively to cleanse the scum that rob us from the party.
Camerons speech yesterday was a great start and great move towards what is needed. However, we need to see the integrity, the economic policies, the willingness to be unpopular and all the other things that have disappeared from politics of all colours before the fence sitters like me will support.

D P Dance said...

She does seem to have made a rod for her own back, even is she is totally without fault, she surely would have great diffulty in providing proof.

There must have been a lot of money sloshing around in the family kitty, did she not wonder why.

The "Tessa Jowell" defence may have worked for Tessa but she at least gave up her husband to spend more time with her job, Julie appears to want both.

Nigel said...

While I might agree with you that some of the reaction is downright hysterical (or, Obnoxio, obnoxious), I really can't see how she can stay on given that her husband has gone.

The second homes arrangement was clearly a joint arrangement, and either it was right or it was wrong for both of them.

What I find equally offensive is the very large number of MPs who claimed (as did Julie Kirkbride last year) the maximum amount available under ACA, to the penny.

Is the Additional Costs Allowance inadequate to cover their expenses ?

Is it just an extraordinary co-incidence that the Additional Costs Allowance exactly meets their expenses ?

Or are they just taking the piss ?

Colin said...

As I've written elsewhere, the problem both Cameron and Brown have now, is that they played their hand’s far too early. As a result, they've set the integrity bar too high and have been baited into sacrificing relative non-entities early on. Now that it turns out that some of the more senior and important MP's and Ministers are even more compromised, both Cameron and Brown are in a bit of a spot, to the point where Brown himself should be shown the door. Darling should have had the Morley treatment the other week.

If they apply the standards they've set early on in this scandal, consistently, there will be virtually nobody left on either of the front benches.

So, now we have all three parties trying to throw up clouds of political chaff, with nonsense talk of constitutional reform and the like. I'm afraid poor little Julie is nothing more than a piece of political silver foil, fired into the air, to confuse the enemy - in this case - us...

ps

what is going on with her hair?

Tom said...

I think that it is important to see the point of view of the average person in these situations.

In a simple comparison a small business owner would not be able to claim a tax deduction on his accounts for the cost of employing someone to look after his/hers children. It is not an employment or business expense.

So why can an MP claim for that cost from the public purse?

JuliaM said...

"No-one, except for a letter writer in the Spectator ever questioned the behaviour of the Sunday Times, nobody cared about my privacy, or was interested in my record in Ulster. All hell let loose. Off with his head! He always was indiscreet! He’s putting policemen’s lives at risk by using a mobile phone etc, etc. Go on television they cried, defend yourself! No-one wanted to know. Being filleted by Robin Day for two minutes would only have made everything worse. Luckily for me, a week later Geoffrey Howe intervened, Maggie went and I clung on. Julie Kirkbride does not have a Geoffrey Howe right now!"

Quick, someone! Call that man a whaaaaambulance!

You were indiscreet and got caught out. Take it on the chin, man, for heaven's sake.

nabidana: "For every person having a go at Julie Kirkbride for behaving within the spirit and letter of the rules, I would dearly love to investigate their insurance claims, tax certificates, expenses... "

If they are also suckling at the teat of the taxpayer, go right ahead. If not, well...

Dr John Crippen said...

Iain

It's a persuasive mitigation.

It would be even more persuasive, however, if you were to mount a similar mitigation for a Labour MP.




John

Anand said...

Her sister seems to be paid rather handsomely for filling in when the main secretary is on holiday/sick leave.

Wht was it listed as? £10,000 to £19.999 a year.

Assuming generous 5 weeks holiday and 12 days a year sick, 8 days bank holiday that accounts for 8 weeks work in a covering capacity.

so she gets paid rather handsomly for very little work?

kasou said...

Iain

I read your blog (and Guidos) every day, sometimes several times as you guys seem to be on the ball.

One thing I have noticed is the the lack of 'outrage' regarding McBruin and co.

Whilst not defending the Tory troughers I would suggest that the government (those making the rules, because we can hardly say we have a working parliament), and in particular an unelected Scottish person (who for 12 years has made the rules) go relatively (note I say relatively) unscathed..

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1187508/RICHARD-LITTLEJOHN-If-caught-stealing-work-wed-arrested-So-Alistair-Darling.html


At last an article commenting on the real culprits of greed and misuse of power.

Victor, NW Kent said...

The fact that Ms. Kirkbride is a woman, or young, is not relevant to whether she has been guilty of an offence against ethics and morality whilst in public office.

I am not pronouncing judgement. At a moment when the government is being forced to treat young women soldiers, even mothers, as normal front-line troops it is hardly sustainable to view Julie in a different light to male MPs.

Alan Duncan has been treated much too lightly - there are several expense stains there and his dreadful disdain over the matter when on HIGNFY.

I am also a little tired of politicians who do not know how to be politic. The constant bleat that they didn't know the conversation was being overheard or that they have been quoted out of context is wearying and unbelievable. So this elder statesman who viewed his PM as a "cow" is hardly in a position to defend anybody. He should have shown such loyalty when in office.

Anonymous said...

I've always liked and admired Julie Kirkbride. I've always felt she's terribly underrated and underpromoted (though perhaps that's for family reasons). I'm sure she's a fantastic MP.

But... she can't stay. She just can't. It beggars belief she didn't know what her husband was up to. In fact, HIGNFY played a call that shows she did know months ago. The paper-inflated scandalettes -- that's just the rot setting in. That's what happens when you don't amputate. All she's doing now is making herself a lightning rod for scandal and while it may be disproportionate to her sins that doesn't mean she's innocent either.

She has to go. I'm sad about it, I wish it hadn't been her of all MPs, but that's how it is.

Nick said...

In the real world, its not unusual for a man to marry his secretary.

However, if you work for a large company, it would be very unusual for you to make your wife your secretary.

With 200 plus MPs employing family, its pure nepotism.

What happens is the MP employs their partner on 40K a year. The MP then gets a couple of 'researchers' to do all the work.

40K for keeping a diary? It's a laugh, its a steal, its the sale of the century.

Where's the open interview process? Where's value for money for the tax payer.

You're defending the indefensible.

Anonymous said...

It's not so much breaking the law as getting caught breaking the law.

That's life.

She would do far better to realise that her political career is over and move on to something else. If she doesn't mind spiders then giving Ant and Dec a call could pay dividends.

Hitchy said...

The comparison of being an MP to running a family business is wrong. Being an MP is much more akin to being an employee of a large corporation or of the the public sector.

If one works for these organisations, allowing a relative to live rent-free in your company flat to 'help out' would constitute a benefit in kind for that relative since the flat was being paid for by your employer. As a result they would be liable for taxation on that benefit.

Furthermore, it's most likely to be contrary to your employer's policy to allow such relatives to live in the property.

Being an MP is not like running a small family business, for which your only responsibility is to yourself.

Premier League Wolf said...

Reasons she should go.

(a) Being aware of the structure of her husbands claims.
(b) Allowing her brother to stay rent free at constituency home.
(c) Extending constituency home to cater for her "growing" family with the taxpayer funding the interest.
(d) Employing her sister at what would appear to be well above the going rate for a part time administrative home worker.
(e) Her brother buying computer equipment on her behalf. So who exactly needs 5 Internet routers?
(f) Hanging up on radio shows instead of arguing her case.

Maybe she could get away with one or two instances of the poor judgement shown above but the list of perceived wrong doing is just too large.

There is also a very big difference between a business employing family members which are funded from their own hard earned profits and funding family members from the public purse.

I expect conservative MPs to be championing the reduction of wasteful public spending - not indulging in it. Her judgement is clearly very poor in trying to hang on to an untenable position.

She is also doing very real damage to the Conservative party by trying to hold on. The prospects ofthe Redditch conservative candidate who will be up against Jacqui Smith are being harmed.

Anonymous said...

kirkbride will gone by 10pm.a good day for a step down,lots more worthy news items today from around the world.anyone know how much the pair of them are paying back yet?

Plato said...

Young woman? She's was born in 1960.

Good on you for taking up the other side - however I have a problem with Julie for one simple reason. She knew all about this arrangement re her home and Andrew's.

She hung up on BBC Herts back in 2007 when questioned about it.

She is an ex-Telegraph journalist - she knows exactly what the press would make of their living arrangements if it became known.

Their little arrangement was clearly a scam.

She has also played the little-me card - 'I just trusted that Andrew's arrangements were perfectly OK as he'd been an MP before I was.'

Andrew also claimed that he couldn't tell anyone where he lived in Bracknell because of security concerns about his previous role in NI.

I gather he has never lived in his constituency - so no wonder he couldn't give an address...

Sorry but no.

If it was just the two ACAs then that would be bad enough, but the rest...well my credulity has snapped.

Anonymous said...

Junius says;

Sadly for Julie Kirkbride I don't think a reference from Richard Needham will do her much good. His comment that Margaret Thatcher went and he stayed says it all about Conservatism for the last 20 years.
Julie Kirkbride must go, and quickly ; no MP has a right to a seat and she has become a serious embarassment and distraction for the Conservative Party, and would undoubtedly lose the seat at the next election.

Anonymous said...

If she's so innocent why has she twice hung up on radio journalists asking her pertinent questions?

Gary said...

That wasn't really about Julie was it?

Desperate Dan said...

Thank you for telling us who was behind the petition. I've been wondering if I was being manipulated by someone's relentless anti-Tory spin machine.
I'm not convinced by Kirkbride's reasons/excuses but I'm uneasy about why she's being singled out.

Mr Angry said...

The problem is though Iain that it now doesn't seem to matter whether or not Julie Kirkbride has done something wrong since this entire expenses matter has now become about perceptions and not objective facts.

Tomfiglio said...

There is no way officials paid from the public purse should be employing members of their family. The jobs should be advertised, open to all and go to the best person. In order to avoid any hint of corruption, that can NEVER be a family member. Anyone with intelligence and integrity would know this already.

DC said...

She was equally culpable in the double-claiming on second homes; that was enough for Mackay to resign; so it should equally be enough for her. If not, can someone please explain why not?

The stuff about her sister is simple nepotism but wouldn't be enough on its own.

I'm sorry for the misery this will put them through (and kudos for Needham for standing up for his friends, but his defence is all a red herring, as he doesn't mention the second homes issue once), but these are greedy, grasping - possibly corrupt - people who have milked ordinary taxpayers for years in the expectation they would never be rumbled. Now they have been exposed like so many worms under a stone, they must face the music.

Geordiecurmudgeon said...

If the deeds of any second home were automatically put in the name of 'The Crown' perhaps MP's would think more carefully when nominating.

Macheath said...

So the brother 'does what a retired elder brother might do for his sister anywhere else in the country without comment or vilification.'Except that he's 59, living rent-free at our expense and, according to the NotW, registered an IT company at that address. The Telegraph also says he is currently working as an IT consultant, although that, of course, has nothing whatsoever to do with the grand's worth of IT kit we paid for - Julie said so, so it must be true.

Nice work if you can get it!

Spectator said...

The problem is that the system has been found to be wrong, and all are tarred with the same brush. Old Aesop actually got it right all those years ago: you are known by the company you keep. We know there are MPs and Peers who have not claimed or who have claimed little over the years: their virtue will serve to remind us that morality may still exist at the highest levels. But the public, I feel, is too angry and tired to sort the wheat from the chaff. All politicians are fighters, so that is probably why we have had so little of the "it's a fair cop" type of statement from them. The time is past for special pleadings, as most people have lost patience. Justice, in the moral sense, is a casualty because of this. Let us have an open and accountable system for all expenses for all politicians, from MEPs and Lords down to District Councillors as soon as possible. And let us have a general election before too long, there are other issues which need to be got a grip of.

Anonymous said...

She has almost certainly benefitted from her husband's misdeeds on the expenses front. That will still be the case even if we assume that when subjected to a closer examination by fair-minded persons her own claims and arrangements are found to be acceptable.

It is difficult to see how anyone can get a fair hearing given the present situation and clearly that is wrong. But how far should local associations push it? Tatton went balls out in an attempt tnot to be bullied by the Grauniad and stood by Hamilton. For all their good intentions they helped perpetuate a highly damaging diversion which cost us support up and down the land and pissed away what would otherwise have been a safe seat. It is hardly the happiest of precedents.

Anonymous said...

We need a ban on all MPs preventing them from paying (stress: paying) any member of their family to work for them. The stench of sleaze means that things like this that can look dodgy must go.

Jules said...

Needham misses the point - he just doesn't get it. Yes there are many small businesses that employ family members. But they are private individuals earning private incomes from private businesses that create wealth and fund The Treasury under duress. MPs are financially unproductive overheads in receipt of this hard work - sluicing back around £100m of our cash every year in expenses payments alone if press reports are accurate. Ethically and morally, they cannot be permitted to feather their extended family nests at our expense.

Why? Because to do so is corrupt.

It's our money and the unjustifiable misappropriation of it by public officials will not be tolerated by those who work their tits off to create it. Not any more.

Yes, it's tough on MPs like Kirkbride (who incidentally does a nice line in 'wounded doe' looks for the press) and Mackay (who, hoist by his own petard, simply jabbers meaninglessly while appearing shell-shocked). But if you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind.

Anonymous said...

Any idea who put Needham up to this?

tory boys never grow up said...

Yes of course there are always two sides to every story and you do well to let your friends' stories come across.

However, what I find objectionable is that you are more than happy to contribute to the feeding frenzy when the targets are not your friends - if you need an example look at your snotty little posting about David Boothroyd this morning.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this former Lloyds man famous for a very indiscreet mobile phone call.One of Jim Prior's mates methinks.

Anonymous said...

She should go as her husband has gone.

I am sick to death of MPs employing relatives and from what i have seen in the case with reguard to Kirkbride she stretches any credibility too far.

About 40 Tory MPs should go they have been useless for most of the last 12 years in opposing/holding Labour to account.

Labour needs to axe a hundred plus MPs and the LD about 20.

Anyone who tries to defend the nonsense and frankly greedy claims is a fool!

Martin Day/ILLIBERAL DEMOCRATS.

Anonymous said...

Julie Julie Julie - Out Out Out!!!

Anonymous said...

Predictable. Another day, another corrupt MP, another excuse from Iain Dale.

Iain, I'm begging you: put down the Kool-Aid, stop parroting excuses for your Westminster cronies (excuses which even your own party leader doesn't accept!) and wake up to the scale of evil that the Westminster parasites have inflicted.

Your friends, the politicians, whose number you desperately wish to join, have taxed the public to penury, driven the economy into the toilet and created a police state - and you expect the public to listen to your half-baked excuses for their lying and thieving ways?

What planet are you on, man?

Old Holborn said...

"There are millions of small businesses where family members help out in one way or the other"

That is the killer line.

Just as Antony Steen showed his contempt for the voters when he blurted that the public have no right to know how he spends their money, this does exactly the same.

Being an MP is not a business and it is not about profit. Something both Julie and Needham don't realise.

johnny silke-purse said...

This is a good example of Iain Dale looking after someone not because she deserves it, but because she is a Tory.

The trouble is that the keener you are to defend them, the more likely it is that they are as guilty as hell.

If I were Julie Kirkbride I would not want to join the company of Nadine Dorries, Derek Conway and Neil Hamilton as this is an almost certain kiss of death.

However, too late now. She's done for, just ask the people of Browsgrove.

UB41 said...

Agree with the majority here.

The major issue Julie has is her knowledge in that they were claiming for two homes.

Much as I dislike them, imagine if Balls/Cooper had been doing it? We'd want them both out (quite rightly).

What I don't get from the MPs (and this is what I'd do) is why don't they take the fight to the media. i.e. Publish their expenses now for all to see and take the DT out of the driving seat.

A bit off topic, but all this tax advice stuff - surely these "qualified" tax advisers told the MPs they couldn't claim the advice on their expenses?
Not very good advisers otherwise?

Ben said...

I have to admit that in the ConHome survey i voted that Julie should go. This was wrong. I did so assuming (rather stupidly) that the DT/Sky/BBC had all reported facts. After having voted i read Julies statements (and now this) and realised i had been wrong. The media are now making things up seemingly to keep up interest. The DTs reporting as now descended from honorable and revolutionary to despicable and distasteful.

I hope Julie stays, and i hope DC defends her.

Catosays said...

There's a very simple common sense test for situations such as this.

'If it looks wrong, then in all probability it is wrong'

subrosa said...

Why did this person feel the need to write such a cringeworthy letter? I'm not taken in for a minute by that but perhaps that's because Scots are more cynical.

All this nonsense about her brother babysitting when they employ a nanny just isn't right. Or is it being implied that the nanny works in the week and the brother at the weekends? When do the parents ever see the child then?

There are many working families who would like the taxpayer to pay for their childcare and I'm sure many child carers who would like a job with free accommodation.

She should step down gracefully.

Osama the Nazarene said...

Methinks Richard Needham doth protest too much. Child minding problems are issues for all of us but we don't ask the taxpayers to fund us (or should I say we would like to but the door is firmly closed in our face).

Does Richard Needham really know what her sister's constituency work involves or is he spinning for Julie? Quite frankly I wouldn't believe him (or her) and would expect her to prove herself innocent by showing us what work her sister had done and that she had only been paid for those periods when the secretary was absent. Not by paying a regular retainer at our expense. I didn't believe Caroline Spelman either when her nanny claimed she did constituency work for her.

Main reason for this disbelief (apart from the mantra that all MPs are liars) was that Ms Kikbride must have known what her partner was up to (as has already been mentioned) so her moral compass must be wonky. The Tessa Jowell defence will not stand up.

Dave said...

There is no ther side of the story. Guilty as charged.

Anonymous said...

Mackay's crime was to claim a second home allowance by designating Kirkbride's second home as his main home.

Her crime is to claim a second home allowance by having a main home which Mackay claimed was his second home.

She must have been complicit in this and if so, their collective actions are worse than the Cooper-Balls' and the Keen's trick of pooling two second home allowances to pay for one "second home" in London. Thay at least paid for one of their main homes from their taxed income.

Anonymous said...

i have read in full, the letter from mr.needham,and most of the posts,and as i said yesterday iain "your loyalty is misplaced"...guthrum may 27th. at 11.19 puts the reasons why ,far better than i could,michael.

Chalcedon said...

What I think needs to be highlighted again and again is the treatment of Blears compared to Hoon and Jackboots seemingly remaining unscathed. They should be sacked. Mind you, he's probably waiting for the dabacle post June 4th to justify his chopping.

However, in light of his comments Cameron must have the claims investigated so if she is innocent he can say so with the evidence. Trial by media is always cruel as it is very onesided.

Anonymous said...

Iain, did they, or did they not, arrange their affairs so that OUR money helped to pay for BOTH their houses? And you believe this is defensible? I care little about their relationships with other family members, provided those members do some actual work but I can't defend them 'creaming off' public money in order to maximise their life-style. And this from a Tory - no, she has to go.

Plenty said...

Good for you Iain, publishing a balanced account of the story to balance those others who are intent on their pound of flesh. Not that they havent had it already. Who says blogging isn't journalism?

http://www.plenty2say.com

Steve Hardy said...

I must admit, as human beings I do feel sorry for not just Julie Kirkbride but all of them, even Mr Duck house but I believe the expenses revelations has triggered a gut anger and desire for vengeance that is based on decades of being ruled whilst seeking little consent; the occasional election hardly qualifies as "consent". Each of us has a list of things where we feel hard done by by our rulers, with me it starts with closing down of the pirate radio stations through to having the right to do the electrical work on my own home removed and so much else in between. Four decades of anger and impotence; is it any wonder at my relish when I check the Telegraph each day?

Bill Quango MP said...

Its mob mentality Iain. Don't even try to defend the guilty. So she is less guilty than some.
No one cares. She has to go.

The mob will looking to hang Brown next, and if you happen to be called Brown you may well get caught up.
"This isn't Brown the Prime Minister. This is Brown the plumber" said one of the mob.

"Well, he never turns up when he says he's going to. Hang him anyway!"

and so it will continue until enough heads have rolled. Hers is as good as any of the others.

StradeyParker said...

"I trusted Andrew..." makes Ms Kirkbride sound like the Conservative Tessa Jowell. When did she become so naive about finance?

Thankfully it won't come to that now - things are far too far advanced in Ms Kirkbride's case - but imagine the difficulty she would have been under if Tory image-merchants had suggested a clean break like Tessa's.

And for what it's worth, I think she finally lost when she decided - or was advised - not to front up to the punters, took down her website and declined to answer questions. People really dislike being ignored, especially by candidates who want their votes.

dalesman said...

I am getting really sick of hearing, "It was a simple misjudgement, it was all within the rules, it was an accountancy mistake".

Julie Kirkbride and her husband have both been claiming for second homes, but didn't have a primary home. She must have known about this, so why treat her differently to her husband?

Her sister, who lived about 120 miles away was employed by her in a constituency post. Why? She didn't live in the constituency, was there no local conservatives who could have done the job?

Sorry Ian but I'm afraid you are doing yourself no favours backing people like this.

dalesman said...

I hadn't seen this, but came across it on Guido's site

"This morning after polling 1,144 ConservativeHome readers in their monthly members’ survey yesterday it emerged that 81% of party members think Julie Kirkbride should go. She is deservedly finished."

George said...

Iain, good on you for having the guts to stick up for an MP. I don't think you're right, I'm afraid, as she must have known about the scheme that her husband and the Fees Office cooked up.

However, I think the point you are trying to make by quoting Richard Needham's letter is the right one: that any sense of perspective on this whole affair disappeared so long ago that the central issues here are being lost in a firestorm of journalistic cant and sanctimosity. Take the John Greenway story in the Telegraph today for a story that is so slanted; so spun; so smug that the MP's defence of himself - which seems entirely reasonable to me - is lost amid an allegation that he spent hundreds of pounds on flowers.

Amid all the stories, it's clear that the Telegraph (and Guido et al) will only be happy when MPs are paid in book tokens and live when away from home in their offices with the lights turned off (to save OUR money, of course). Naturally, at that point we'll get the MPs we deserve and that, my friends, is the price of the poisonous and misanthropic cyncism which declares that everyone is out for themselves that the media and attack bloggers have created.

Lady Finchley said...

I have always had a lot of time for Julie Kirbride and she is a lovely person. However, her ignorance of her husband's arrangement just won't fly with the public. She was also ill-advised to hire her family - it is just not a good move these days. Nevertheless, the entire thing is now turning into a witch hunt and there is a lot of malice and spite around.

Nick 11:56 was absolutely spot on. Too many wives get top whack for doing very little and then others are paid peanuts for doing their work.

Grumpy Old Sod said...

Too late. She's toast...

Disgusted Grange-over-Sands said...

Now the defense that office work is done down line is most interesting.Surely this indicates that a large part of MP's work at Westminster could be done down line - attendance at Westminster only rquired for particular issues.

London home not required.

Same applies to overseas junkets for 'conferences' most should be done on line

Well well!

Bardirect said...

The woman made a poor choice with her husband and an even poorer choice with her hairdresser but if Galloway's so called Respect party are behind the agitprop petition then I think she might hold out despite the bad perception which has been created.

She got more than 50% of the vote in 2001 and 2005 so might still retain some personal following and loyalty in her constituency party.

It's a matter for them not us.

Richard Painter said...

Iain
It maybe true she is being vilified but I also think it wrong that they claimed two allowances and give the appearance at the least of having pushed every direction in the envelope to spend or buy or pay as much on expenses.
However why this couple is getting so much attention when Balls/Cooper and others IN GOVERNMENT are being let off the hook is beyond.
Balls and Cooper have adjoining constituencies (so do NOT need a separate constituency home) yet both claimed the second home allowance AND command cabinet salaries of what? £150K each? Plus all the support and paraphernalia that comes from being in the inner circle of government and having a department "at their disposal" to help them in answering phones, secretaries etc.

If I in my job did half of what the Kirkbrides did I'd be out. If I did what the Balls/Cooper axis have done, I'd be lucky to get only a HMRC investigation and charge.

Anonymous said...

The Party system at Westminster created a a juggrnaut that has taken no heed of the indigenous population opinion for sixty years. Whether it be Europe/Capital Punishment /Immigration or Education they have dismissed the majority view in favour of that of the 'political class'. Only now are they seriously listening because they fear, sadly, the rise of a far right grouping that the majority might now turn to. Julie Kirkbride is in the firing line of this anger. She might also reflect that her choice of her witless husband might be part of the problem. I also might ask what criteria was used when she was adopted as an MP and how David Cameron could possible think Mackay was in any way competent? The judgment does seem curious.

Linda Kendall

Nat B said...

Iain, you are letting yourself down here. Two simple facts:

-They have one income per home. This is the case for lots of the public. Why should they get a second home allowance at all? Claiming for two second homes means they don't pay for a first home - which is little short of fraud.

-Why does she employ her sister in Dorset when she could employ a local? Wouldn't this serve her constituency better? The public view this sort of nepotism as corruption - and rightly so.

That's before we even come on to the politics. This is Dave's chance to prove the tories have changed. He'd do well to insist on a cull. By doing so he'd get the modern party he wants, and also the pressure on labour to follow suit would be immense.

Labour would either have to keep the troughers (and slump further in the polls), or cull the cabinet and the government would crumble. It's a win-win for Dave.

Binning Kirkbride would therefore rid us of a corrupt MP, modernise the party, and destroy labour.

Now that's a leadership test.

sestou said...

Many comments here are missing the point of the post by a Westminster mile and prefer to vent and pronounce.

If Needham's is the best defense that can be mustered then on that alone Kirkbride hasn't got a hope.

"So weak" deosn't even begin to cover it.

ranter said...

I'm with Guthrum on this. In the UK today all it takes is for an allegation to be made to the police that someone has committed a crime. The police will arrest the accused, no 'ifs' or 'buts', no grey areas. That is thanks to the removal of their individual discretion under Labour , aided and abetted by Blears, McNulty, Blunkett and Straw. If they have committed the crime they can't simply say sorry or give the items back or pay the money back THEY GET NICKED. Then theya re photographed, fingerprinted and their DNA taken BEFORE CHARGE. Kirkbride and her husband and the rest of these thieving scumbags should taste modern British policing and the criminal justice system. Where are the official police investigation? No sympathy I'm afraid, Kirkbride and hubby were at it for years.

Anonymous said...

Iain

You and Mr Needham show that you live in a different world from the rest of us when you say that plenty of small businesses up and down the country employ relatives. Sure they do but it the owner of a business can frankly spend its revenues how he likes whether it is a mistress on the payroll, a company Bentley or whatever. He or she puts up the risk capital puts in the sweat and if there is an excess of sales over fixed costs how that surplus is used is HIS business.

What MPs are doing us using other people's money to employ relatives (do they go through all the rubbish of equal opportunities etc we have to when hiring?), pay for new routers, nannies on the state, matchboxes etc. And the cash they are using is from the taxes the rest of us pay.

You in the Westminster village - and sadly that includes you Iain - just do not appear to understand how livid we who generate those taxes are and how much we now despise and loathe the political establishment becuase you are all sticking together.

In the private sector there would have been mass sackings with the old bill called in for what has gone on at Westminster. But you guys just live by different rules...

You are acting as the best recruitinng sargeants the minor parties could have hoped for.

mongoose said...

There are two gaping holes in this argument:

1) She and her husband have conspired to jointly milk the system to the utmost. it doesn't matter in which one's name the cash rolled in. If he is guilty, she is guilty. They are guilty.

2) On the lesser charge of not thieving but just doing what everyone else was doing - within the rules, old boy [nudge, nudge] - my old mum taught me that I was supposed to do the right thing even when nobody was looking. Thus milking the system is itself the moral equivalent of thieving from a widow's purse.

Guilty. And finished.

Anonymous said...

Yeh well done Iain the three monkeys rolled into one GET REAL Hanging is what these wee piggies need. As for David Cameron - Cameron failed to discipline over 130 of Tory MP's, who voted against the John Lewis List reforms last July. He has only recently woken up to the expenses scandal of his own Political Advisor, Andrew Mackay and the public disquiet and disgust at what was normal behaviour in the Westmonster Zoo. A wonderful speech yesterday by DC but sadly all empty words. Funny how it is only when 'we the public' found out what was going wrong do the wee piggies offer to change 'the system' They are corrupt every last one of them IF they did not have their snouts in the trough they for sure new it was going on and DID NOTHING.

Sandt Jamieson said...

It strikes me that the AM/JK family would need three houses: one in London; one in Bracknell and one in Bromsgrove. If that is the case then on the housing issue at least, there is no case to answer. If however they only have two houses and one claiming one house and the other claiming the other as their second homes, then both must go.

I run a small business and employ members of my family on a part time basis. I can trust them and if I have a row with them, I'm fairly certain none of them will kick-in a Grievance Procedure.So I find nothing on that issue.

Its equally valid to comment that if I had a house elsewhere, I can see advantages in having a relative as a live-in house minder.

Like many I am puzzled about the situation with the Balls family- they really do not need three houses since they represent adjacent constituencies (bit like the Wintertons in that respect)and unless they are holding the best till last, I speculate why the DT has not sought to focus on them.

As it is having relatives at one times in Bromsgrove, I know that JK has been a 1st class MP. Its also fair to say that for men of a certain age, she can do something for us (not that the competition in women Tory MPs is that high).

strapworld said...

Iain,

I think that she will have to resign. The baying mob want blood and they will.

BUT if everyone reads Richard Littlejohn's column in the Daily Mail today, he rightly brings the attention back to the ones that should be, but for obvious bias reasons are not, namely Gordon Brown and his rottenn cabinet.

Kirkbride is small beer compared to that gang of crooks. For that is what they are.

Had you or I done anything like Brown or Darling and Co we would have been taken before the beak!

Cameron has to get to work on those within his shadow cabinet, who should not be there. And I am disturbed that not one of them has offered to resign, never mind actually resigning!

Butonce he has cleaned out his stables, he can then properly take on Brown and his crooks.

Grumpy Old Man said...

Iain. I applaud your decision to present the other side of the story, which is patently not being done by the Barclaygraph. Do you know if in the team of 45 journos "examining" the CD, there are any accountants with HRMC experience? if there are none, or just a few,then the "witch hunt" meme gains some credibility.

Nevertheless. Mrs Kirkbride signed an awful lot of claims claiming that her expenses were, "wholly, necessarily and justifiably in the persuance of her Parliamentary duties". Her reaction to being asked for justification of some of the more lurid items does not breed confidence in her innocence.

Anonymous said...

I agree with those who have pointed out a small business employing family is entirely different. I think if you employed a relative and they were no good you could either choose to do nothing, at your own expense, or risk upsetting the family. How much easier it must be to make that decision if someone else is paying.

Nick said...

Nick 11:56 was absolutely spot on. Too many wives get top whack for doing very little and then others are paid peanuts for doing their work.

---------

Thank you for the compliment.

Look around at all your acquantances. How many employ their partners on 40K a secretaries?

Do you know any secretaries on 40K a year?

Now ask yourself why 1/3rd of MPs employ familly?

Why is the ratio so different?

Nig L said...

Congratulations to Ian Dale for publishing this letter and agree with the overall sentiment about the dangers of the press encouraging 'mob rule' and,no doubt Julie Kirkbride has many qualities. However (as broadcast by Have I got News for You) the question of her 'second home' was put to her some two years ago by a local radio presenter and she chose to put the phone down. that act indicated she could not justify herself and to claim now (or her friends claim on her behalf) that she was ignorant of the situation, beggars belief.

Mike H said...

Well said, Iain.

I think her mistake has been to hang-up the phone during a couple of interviews. Actions like that will be interpreted as an indication of guilt. She needs to borrow a bit of Nadine's fighting spirit.

Anonymous said...

Its not about what you or I think but what the voters think thats whats matter.

She has lost their trust and I feel that she should go soon.

Anonymous said...

Sure if she knew her husband was claiming for the home they shared she should not have claimed. Or vice-versa. And if she did not know then surely she should have asked? Did they not talk? Im afraid you are wrong on this one Iain.

Anonymous said...

Iain Dale may be defending Kirkbride but Cameron is not.

Spineless Dave has said that she must go and face her constituents and let them decide whether she stays or goes. Which is all a bit strange considering he found the balls to sack an unpaid junior and mere kid for life yesterday.

Non Runner said...

She can't stay. You do realise that, don't you? If not, I'm afraid you just don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Very well said, Iain! There is a very vicious streak in a certain section of the British Public which we are seeing in full, horrible force now. I certainly wonder if not only Respect but also the BNP has a hand in encouraging the "witch hunt"?

Daisy said...

I fail to see how anyone can look at what Mr and Mrs MacKay got up to with their "expenses" without coming to the conclusion that it is fraud.

This pair have ripped-off the taxpayer to the tune of £250,000 - and what's happened to them? MacKay says he will stand down at the next election - and that's it? Big deal!

Never mind wittering on about unfair or unkind publicity, I want this pair arrested, charged, prosecuted and JAILED!

On one point Mr Needham is right. The fact that people like Hoon, McNutter, Schmidt and the Balls' remain as cabinet ministers is an even greater disgrace. For the media to leave these alone and concentrate on Mrs MacKay looks like they're going for the easy target. It's cowardice.

John of Enfield said...

As has been mentioned, this feeding frenzy is at such a fever-pitch now that JK is "Toast".

Where does it stop? It is totally out of control. None of the initiatives by Brown or Cameron (or Clegg or Salmond)have stemmed the flow of invective.

I predict a General Election before this summer recess.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I really don't like the way the media and everyone are trying to get JK's scalp. This targeting of expenses is not even handed.

Why are we not seeing the same level of fire being directed at Labour MPs? They seem to be getting a free ride at the moment.

Although it's important to clear house, there is a very real danger that the Tories might come out of this worse in the sense that the more MPs stand down, the more sleazier the party will be seen to be.

Labour's current stubborn refusal to kick out MPs might pay off - if Paul Waugh's articles are anything to go by, Moran is more likely to lose her job over Vauxhall than over expenses.

If JK is forced out, then she should be the last one until Labour and Lib Dem offer some sacrifices.

Nick said...

Brown and Co take the biscuit, (and the cash)

If you are in charge of taxation, and you can't do your own taxes, then its really rotten at the heart of government.

When it comes to JK and co, I'm reminded of the old adage, how do you eat an elephant? Answer, one mouthful at a time.

JK is just one of the apertizers.

Nick

DMC said...

Iain

I love your Blog but you are wrong about this. In fairness i went to Julies Website and read her responses to Telegraph and i am still convinced she has done something wrong.

Julie Kirkbride and her husband have damaged the Tory Party, there is alot about the exepenses she and her husband claimed which show a complete lapse of judgement.

I think MPs must leave there commonsense at the doors in Westminister.

If Cameron doesnt get rid of her then her constitutents will next year.

killemallletgodsortemout said...

Hilarious.

Parts of Needham's letter read like the script of an episode of Little Britain, where a disgraced "MP" gives a statement to the press. I'm sure you know the one.

"I had decided to share a taxi with a Brazilian rent-boy whom I had met at King's Cross. When the taxi braked hard at some traffic lights, a part of my anatony accidentally entered a part of the rent boy. The passing police patrol, having witnessed what they thought was an assault on the rent boy, subsequently arrested me. This misunderstanding will be cleared up in the fullness of time. I can assure you all that my wife is standing by me throughout this ordeal".

Same with this lot of wasters, who "accidentally" claimed for two or more houses, moats, blah-de-blah.

What amazes me is that NONE of these suspects have been arrested, charged and bailed to appear for theft or fraud. Surely it is up to a Court to decide on guilt or innocence, not the blogs/press/colleagues/Iain dale?

Thomas Rossetti said...

I must admit, Iain, that I do have a degree of sympathy for you, Richard Needham and Julie Kirkbride. Everyone has gone a little crazy with this whole expenses saga. As the Telegraph themselves acknowledged, this is all small beer compared to what they get away with in Italy or France (or the whole of the European Parliament ). Secondly, some people do compose hateful and moronic posts in response to these matters. These aren’t expressions of legitimate voter anger, they’re just bored people hopping on the bandwagon.

I would like to think, however, that we hold ourselves to a higher standard in Britain (and I speak as an ex-pat living in America). British politicians should indeed be “purer than pure”. Although she may be a good MP, Julie Kirkbride has done wrong.

I can’t pretend to know the ins and outs of her specific “crimes”, but employing family members is certainly dodgy. On a couple of occasions during the school holidays I worked for my father in his law firm. I’m not sure my job that that necessary to the well-running of the firm, but my Dad did have to get permission from the other partners. (And it was a private firm, in any case.) It seems that when MPs want to employ family members, they can just do so without a moment’s thought. When the money is the taxpayer’s and not your own, you should be a bit more careful.If it is such an innocent thing to employ family members in your office, why is it not allowed in Washington DC? Perhaps this is because the American system of government is much more transparent. After numerous scandals, politicians here are desperate to be seen to be doing the right thing… and the nation as a whole benefits

jbw said...

To quote Richard Needham...
"Almost every Sky and BBC news report involves sending a ‘team’ to discover what the locals in Bromsgrove are saying about Julie. This entails interviewing those signing a ‘Julie Must Go’ petition being organised by George Galloway’s Respect Party."

Having read Needhams piece the bit about the Respect party was about the only thing that gave me pause to think. Is it true?

As for saving her career - well I think it's not going to happen. The pack has the scent and they will not give in until they have won.

She might as well get it over and resign now. However good she is at her job, this will follow her for the rest of her political career.

Finally - well done Iain for publishing the letter.

(We can always shoot the messenger later:-)

Nick said...

I agree with Ranter.

MPs are getting some of their own justice. Guilty until proven innocent applies in lots of cases. Parking tickets, traffic offenses, taxation, ...

So what if the odd MP goes down who might be innocent of the charges. They didn't stop the others, so a bit of collateral damage is to be expected.

If its good enough for the Citizen, it should be good enough for MPs.

Unless you want it the other way round. ie. Up to 175 quid a day, tax free, per diem allowances would do nicely.

Tax havens all round.

Nick

strapworld said...

Richard Littlejohn!

a quote from his column:

”While the world and his wife has, quite legitimately, gone chasing two-bob crooks like Andrew MacKay and name-any-one-from-a-couple-of-dozen-others, I’ve tried to keep you focused on the main event.

And that is the wholesale abuse of the expenses system by ministers at the very top, from the Prime Minister downwards

I’ve yet to see Gordon Brown give a convincing explanation of why he found it necessary to claim for two different second homes, while living in the same grace-and-favour flat at public expense for the past 12 years.

Why, for instance, did he spread the cost of a new kitchen over two separate accounting periods, if not to screw every last penny out of the taxpayer?

Why has he put the flat he bought from the Robert Maxwell fire sale in his wife’s name and switched his second home designation to Scotland, if not as part of a ploy to avoid paying Capital Gains Tax?

How dare Brown stand up and condemn others when his own sticky fingers are elbow-deep in the till?

What the hell was his sidekick Darling doing buying four homes in four years, all of which he charged to the taxpayer?

Why did Darling think we should have to pay his stamp duty?

Why did he hire an accountant to minimise his tax bill and then stick it on his exes?

He’s the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for heaven’s sake. He makes the rules. Why does he think they don’t apply to him?

Nick said...

I also notice on Guido Fawke's site that we have one private prosecution going ahead at the end of next month, Jacqui Smith's.

Anonymous said...

FACT: She and her husband both broke the spirit of the rules which the public (rightly) hate.

FACT: The media is 100% biased. It is undoubtedly far more newsworthy that the pm claims for sky sports, the chancellor for help filling in his tax return and many cabinet members 'flipping' whilst still in grace and favour homes. Alas even the DT won't level the playing field so all we get is biased drivel.

She should still go though - along with MANY others, she is no worse and no better.

DMC said...

I was just thinking Iain, If Julie does step down, Why dont you run for the seat? Get a decent/Straight talking person in there.

We should start a draft Iain campaign

Iain For Parliament!

Anonymous said...

Let's get the skids under Julie pronto, so we can concentrate on the Ballses and Keens.

You know the routine, Julie: "Regrettably I have become a distraction... in the interests of the party..."

Anonymous said...

Julie Kirkbride is as hard as nails...believe me. She must have known perfectly well what was going on .
No ifs or buts, the lady must go in order to give the Conservatives a better chance of holding the seat at the next election.

Weygand said...

She colluded with her husband to milk the system.

She used the system to benefit her brother and sister.

Her explanations (when she has not just put the phone down) have been partial, evasive and unconvincing.

Dave knows that Kirkbridge must go and before long she undoubtedly will.

Anonymous said...

Its not the fact they have fiddled their expenses - what the hell, we would all do it if we could get away with it. It may even be true that the Commons authorities colluded as a means of bumping up their remuneration, and at least they are now paying the taxes due and hopefully bearing the legal consequences of breaking the law, though they are all keeping the profits they have made AFTER paying the tax.
No, its that fact they were brazenly doing this while the rest of us, who pay for it, were going through dire financial times, taxed to the hilt and beyond, massive job losses matched with government indifference, and government ministers telling us its for our own good, to bring the economy back into credit again. Thats why we want blood.

Lady Finchley said...

Nick 1:38

To answer your first question: Many

Second question: very few.

Madasafish said...

Mps know when they become MPs that their own business affairs may be subject to scrutiny, ESPECIALLY WHERE PUBLIC MONEY is conscerned.

JK did not seem to take any cognisance of that.
She is married to a man who fiddles his expenses.


She expects sympathy?

Tough.

Anonymous said...

Her problem is the gulf between HMRC treatment of the general public and the HMRC treatment of MPs. If all these expenses were paid from taxed income, there might still be charges of nepotism but the unfairness of the situation would seem less.

Couped with wall to wall advertisements about the pursuit, capture and criminal record of benefit cheats, MPs are reaping the whirlwind.

Julie may be one of the lesser offenders but whirlwinds are not that discriminating.

David said...

So she claimed without bothering to ask her husband about his claim? Really.

English First said...

You are defending the indefensible Ian.

The Kirkbride`s are guilty as charged, period.

I think you are in danger of losing it Ian.

Anonymous said...

I sent a comment under theProle. Why was it not published?

Anonymous said...

Iain,

I'm afraid you still just don't get it. I mean that in the nicest possible way, mind you. Essentially, in the current climate, no defence, however cogent, will de deemed acceptable by a public baying for blood.

If even the very best of defences won't wash, I regret to say that a copied letter from one ex-Tory MP, who adopts a sanctimonious tone while making a below average attempt to clear Kirkbride's name, certainly doesn't do the trick.

Of course, the most stupid part of the aforementioned inane letter is his comparison between his own phone tapping saga and Kirkbride's situation. The public had no right to hear his personal views about his boss expressed in a private phone call, which was tapped by a terrorist group; conversely, we have every right to know whether MPs are ripping us off and, thankfully, we didn't have to rely on the IRA to get the information. Of course, MPs like Nadine Dorries would seemingly have us believe that The Telegraph is on a par with such people, but that's a different story...

Spurious comparisons such as Needham's deservedly invite scorn rather than sympathy.

Why don't they get it?

Robert A said...

Can't help thinking that, while quite a few of the sleazeballs being held up to ridicule by the meejah have walked into trouble with their eyes wide open, sad Julie has strolled into the mire with hers wide shut!

Is her worth as an MP to be judged totally on the revelations of the last week or two which, while pretty indefensible in some respects, surely cannot totally counter the weight of evidence which suggests she has worked her cotton socks off in her constituency? And, God knows, I'm no Tory!

As it happens, there's a little joke in our house about the number of times Julie's not entirely unappealing phizzog (where the hell did the nationals get that horrible, miserable recent shot of her?) appears weekly in the Bromsgrove Standard, the freesheet regularly bunged through our door.

Yeah, there she is (or was!) - opening things (or shutting them in the case of her constituency office!), hob-nobbing with local bigwigs, pensioners, mothers' groups, schoolkids, cops, creches, etc, etc. Can't remember if the record is five or six piccies of her in the SAME issue! Whatever, it does suggest that she gets around her patch with a hell of a lot more vigour than some of the layabouts infesting Westminster.

And the secretary down in distant Dorset? She should have been sitting in a next door room scratching away with a quill pen, should she Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, et al? Oh, grow up . . . never heard of the internet?

As I say, I'm no supporter - except of fair play.

Alcazar said...

What does her au pair do?

John Woodman said...

There's almost no point in commenting as so many have made the salient point: she and her husband have taken public money in a dubious way. It may have been in line with "the rules" but it wasn't acceptable.

The fact that she hasn't resigned already shows she has no party loyalty and is just interested in milking the system for as long as possible.

Steve Tierney said...

Quite honestly, I'm sick of the whole thing and have been for some time. The public at large are out for blood, following the dubious flag of the Barclay Brothers.

There are some bad guys. There are many who are not. But they are all falling like dominos regardless.

People say the expenses scandal was a sad day for British politics. Maybe so. But not as sad as the response to it.

Anonymous said...

I think you are very right in publishing facts. There is a lot of very dirty bath water, but we shouldn't lose babies with it, even if, perhaps, they should have known what their husbands were doing.

trevorsden said...

'guilty by association' -- now where have I heard that before? Nazi Germany?? McCarthyism?? The 'Terror' of the French Revolution ??

That phrase from Kilbride's detractors makes me sick and is probably the reason why I now support her.

We are seeing the truth distorted and manipulated. The media ignoring facts to suit its own story.

We see it elsewhere - for instance in the Climate Change debate (or suppression of debate) where the truth is suppressed to perpetuate the scam.

MPs are entitled to expenses. They need them. I can see where it would be better all round if its a family member being entrusted with sensitive political matters, PROVIDED they do mthe work. Only the crass and ignorant would ignore that.

If you detractors want to be an MP without expenses and do a good job with only one home, then go ahead and take up Camerons offer. The FACT is none of you will or would.

And I for one would not want a sterile coward and whinger for my MP.

Phlipa said...

I was discussing this issue in her constituency the other day - the residents position was that whilst they were generally satisfied with her performance as an MP (nothing to write home about but generally fine) they agreed she had to go. As one contributor put it: "As a couple, did they or did they not claim twice on the same home?"

And as another here reminded us: "However you cannot have a situation as I heard on Radio 4 when a young mother received a Police Caution because the DSS thought she had been over paid by £200, she had not been, but still received the visit from the Police and no apology was received for the distress caused by the mistake, and Kirkbride is treated with kidgloves."

Anonymous said...

The problem is that Julie Kirkbride has become the story and in politics, when that happens, there has to be action. Whether it is fair or not, I feel that Julie has no choice but to offer to stand down from her seat at the next election. The current situation is damaging the Conservative Party and it is taking the spotlight away from the terrible behaviour of certain Cabinet Ministers. I am sorry Julie, your position is now irretrievable and for the sake of the party, you should stand down.

go quickly said...

in 2007 my local radio station asked her about her two homes "fiddle" with her husband; she just hung up on them.

There is no defence and trust me, the people in Worcestershire are not happy. She knew, she thought she could get away with it and now we learn of the sister/secretary over 100 miles away from both her homes.

Go now; go quickly and perhaps you'll have a chance with a new face in the general election.

Ask yourself, if she had a red rosette on would you be defending her?

Westminster Goblin said...

Whether she has been fairly or unfairly criticised by the media is inconsequential. Ultimately, it is the wisdom of her constituents that will decide if Julie is to remain their MP.

Fairness doesn't come into the equation. In the past, many good Members of Parliament have lost their seat because of external factors outside of the work of the constituency. Life isn't fair and neither, it seems, is politics.

jaybs said...

Yes Julie may be a decently nice person, but they have done wrong and voters clearly do not like it. No one likes to see anyone lose office, but in industry she would not have lasted so long - "Julie Must Go"

Macheath said...

trevorsden 5.24pm; 'guilty by association' -- now where have I heard that before? Nazi Germany?? McCarthyism?? The 'Terror' of the French Revolution ??Maybe, but Ms Kirkbride was, we assume, literally in bed with the person making a dodgy expenses claim, and a publicly subsidised bed at that.

Surely in that case guilt by association must count for something.

Anonymous said...

"young mum"? She's 49!

Anonymous said...

Having read the letter from Richard Needham, my reply would be "Methinks he doth protest too much"

Anonymous said...

Very gallant of you to defend the little lady and all that but wrongdoing is wrongdoing and she is AT LEAST complicit in the twin claims for 2nd homes.

She must go and a new level of UNIMPEACHABLE probity must be established. Even she is technically innocent, was genuinely unaware of the wrongdoing of her husband ... she is not electable and should stand down for that reason with whatever dignity she has left.

richardwillisuk said...

Iain, good on you for standing up for Julie. I hope she resists the feeding frenzy and that the attention turns to those who really deserve it.

James Barlow said...

The the "small business" analogy for MPs employing family members just doesn't cut it for me.

If you were the owner of a small business, and you opted to pay a family member to - for example - sort out your IT, then fair enough.

But what if you were an employee of that same company, and you paid a family member for the same service without telling your boss?

MPs may wish to place themselves in the same category as entrepreneurs and business owners. But they are not - they're employed representatives of the people receinving public money. It's not their capital, and it is not acceptable for it to be "commingled" with their own resources or passed to family and friends.

Tt was improper when MEPs were doing it (I was critical of Giles Chichester at the time) were doing it. It's improper when MPs do it.

Anonymous said...

MP's expenses are on a grey scale from "necessary for the job" including "perks of the job" to "taking advantage of the job", but where do you draw the line which separates what is and is not acceptable? and where do you place each claim on the scale? How many of us have perks which could be seen by others as unacceptable? When the claims for expenses were made by Julie, did she believe they were acceptable, in line with other claims by MPs at the time? There doesn't seem to be any deception here, just a moving scale.
Why not employ your sister for, what seems like, a reasonable wage? Who better to trust and provide support?

Anonymous said...

The woman behind it is a leading light in George Galloway's Respect party, yet as far as I know this fact hasn't been mentioned once. She's portrayed as some kind of heroic local citizen. And so she may be, but shouldn't her political background be transparent?I remember a story you posted a couple of days ago involving a certain Mr Warren Clegg where this "making political background transparent" wasn't considered (and still isn't) considered relevant.

Why the difference in this case?

Anonymous said...

Julie Kirkbride is no better or worse than many others. So why pick on her? Hazel Blears flipped her house three times in one year! If Julie wants to soldier on, then let the voters of Bromsgrove decide.

Chris Saunders said...

You just don't get it do you. She and her husband have milked the system for every last penny they can, in every possible way.

Maybe in your world these figures seem trivial, but to me this is theft on a grand scale to subsidize a lavish and oppulent lifestyle.

Also, complaining that the media pay too much attention to your pals when others are just as guilty, shows that you, yourself, are part of the problem.

Joe Public said...

"Guilty until proved innocent" is also the mantra that applies after DNA has been extracted, despite an individual neither having committed a crime, nor being charged with committing a crime.

This entire "Expenses" episode is 'payback-time' to politicians by the public.

And we're lovin' it.

Pat said...

I note Mr. Needhams comment that his wife was "surrogate MP" for the ten years he was a minister. I take it for granted that both acted for the best, but shouldn't the constituents have had the MP they chose directly? This appears to me as evidence that whatever second job an MP can do as well carry out his duties as MP, being a minister is too much. Quite apart from the fact that in his role as MP he is supposed to keep the government of which he is part to account- a very big ask. Ministers should not be Members of Parliament.

J H Holloway said...

Iain, why are you -like Cameron - so soft on women?

This woman is indefensible, you ran around Hazel B, who turned out to be have an eye to the main chance and the least said about Spellman, the better.

We are both of the generation where women had no hurdles placed in their way - so why treat them like special flowers who need nurturing?

Spent an afternoon on Sunday with a group of willowy ex-Edinburgh female grads who had the world at their feet (literally: shall I be a stem cell biologist or a playright? She'd gone down the playright route and was already up for an award).

It's time to turn your attention to young men's struggles in a feminised education and career world. Ask Willetts - he'll tell you that attitudes like yours is storing trouble up for the future.

Equality means just that...

Belfast Gonzo said...

Iain

You might be interested to know that no paramilitary organisation - IRA or loyalist - was monitoring Needham in Newry when he called Thatcher a cow.

It was someone I know with a police scanner and the sense to divert attention away from himself!

Julie Freeride must go! said...

As one on the frontlines of her constituency, and a floating voter with no allegiance to a specific party, then I can tell you that I am annoyed by her. Annoyed by her constant refusal to even entertain the possibility her own constituents might dare to have a non-standard thought against her. Annoyed by the way she can lisp her pleasant sounding, ameliorative weasel words, to avoid answers, and give plausible sounding responses. Just seems to be an awful lot of reasonable platitudes being trotted off. legally practised, perhaps? And, i'm annoyed at how innocent and naivety seem to be her best defenses. Making us prove culpability. "Mr Milligan? why, i'm positively sure I knew absolutely nothing about his bedroom fetishes!" Hmmm, riiight.

And, FYI, all the conspiracists champing at the bit, the lady behind the Julie must go campaign on facebook, is a nonpolitical person. One of the advisers/organisers linked to the group, has connections to the Respect party, but is operating as a concerned constituent, with no support or instruction from the Respect party whatsoever. (although, no doubt when Mr Galloway catches wind, will breeze in taking all credit!) Like saying that Spearmint Rhino are behind the campaigns, because somebody is a member!

Anonymous said...

Iain Dale, Sunday May 24th, 9-59am “Labour MP Bullies Constituent Over Gurkha Letter”Labour MP Brian Jenkins is a prat. And a bully. The Mail on Sunday reports that he has sent a letter to a constituent, Warren Clegg, threatening legal action over a letter Mr Clegg had sent him about the Gurkhas. Mr Clegg pointed out in a letter to the local paper in Tamworth that he hadn’t had a reply. Mr Clegg is a student at Cambridge about to sit his finals. His father has just gone to serve in Afghanistan. Now Warren Clegg’s mother has written to the Prime Minister to protest at this letter.No mention of the fact that Warren Clegg is a Conservative activist and member of Conservative Future

This crucial fact when it is pointed out.

Iain Dale, Wednesday May 27th, 10-58am “In Defence of Julie Kirkbride”The woman behind it is a leading light in George Galloway’s Respect party, yet as far as I know this fact hasn’t been mentioned once. She’s portrayed as some kind of heroic local citizen. And so she may be, but shouldn’t her political background be transparent?Are you for real?

Anonymous said...

Confused! about the Galloway Respect bit,
So What if the woman is a light of the Respect party who really cares but The woman denies ever voting let alone voting for Galloway's Respect Party
Its just like the Tories and the media it lets through a name that is always brought up when there is some muck to spread to take the limelight of the real culprits.

Sorry to do the informing but once again Galloway is squeaky clean No claims for expenses even the mileage allowance that he is fully entitled to also was he shouting the loudest last year to Mr speaker that we should have total transparency and boy was he right.
Galloway becomes more credible each day this tasteless debacle unfolds.

janner said...

Done little wrong? Colluding with her husband to have 2 homes paid for by the taxpayer is not wrong?
Well under the rules MPs made for themselves probably not. In every other way definitely yes.
Defensible? Not in my book.
Sorry. No personal animus here but she has to go.
I hear the Telegraph may be taking on journalists soon instead of using Ceefax as a source so she could always go back there; she was excellent.

radsatser said...

She can go or she can stay, it doesn't really matter. I have no doubt that between now and the GE every one of the MP's will be investigated in detail by the media,and all those who have abused the system and decide to stand again will be ceremoniously dumped by the electorate, and that includes Hoon, Blears, Gove and all the other cabinet and shadow cabinet members the party leaders are trying to protect. What the party leaders have yet to understand, is that they are no longer in charge of the game, We are!! To most people in this country there are no degrees of theft and corruption,once a thief always a thief, whether it is a duck island or a bath plug. Its time to move on boys and girls and rejoin the real world.

rik said...

It has been plainly obvious to me for quite sometime that the BBC and the Telegraph (excluding the expenses story) are extremely biased towards the incumbent government. I would guess they are driving this in a hope to turn the spotlight away from the many labour MP's which are in positions of higher authority who have done similar or worse. Didn't MR Brown himself rely on his own brother! To me the higher they are up the ladder the more acute their failings are but hey better protection comes with it too guess.

Anonymous said...

Iain, this "defence" completely ignores the fact that she claimed second home allowance on what her husband had designated as their primary residence. If you wish to defend her, please first explain why she should be treated differently from her husband for precisely the same failure?

Devil's Kitchen said...

Lordy. I can't be bothered to fisk the whole of this disingenuous letter. However, one thing...

"Guilty until proved innocent has been the media mantra over the last few days."No, no, no.

MPs were innocent until proven guilty: unfortunately for them, and hilariously for us, many of them have been proven guilty.

Now, I haven't looked into Kirkbride's stuff intimately but if, for instance, she is letting her brother live rent free in a property that we pay for -- regardless of whether he babysits her child (why the hell should we pay for her childcare services?) -- then she, too, is guilty.

And yes, she is most definitely guilty of milking the taxpayer as regards the ACA. We have... well, we have the proof of it, y'see.

DK

Anonymous said...

It's not much of a defence to say that there are far worse rogues in the House than Julie Kirkbride. The facts are that she's been in politics for years, having previously dated Stephen Milligan before marrying McKay. So she can't pull the naive new MP stunt.
She knowingly defrauded the taxpayer by double dipping. The other claims are more difficult to substantiate. It's possible to have a secretary work 140 miles away but quite impractical and I'm sure she could have found equally qualified people to work directly with her in London or Bromsgrove. The extension to her house sounds fair if her son really was sharing a room with her brother. Having based on the cheapness of houses in Bromsgrove and the substantial wealth that her husband and her must have accumulated especially with the double dipping, it sounds highly unlikely that she'd have allowed her son to sleep in those conditions for 8 years. Again you're defending the indefensible. No other employer would pay for their staff to increase their mortgage to fit in their family. The Additional Cost Allowance is designed to pay for a 2nd home in London for the use of the MP whilst they are working at Westminster. It probably made sense when MPs worked long hours and many more weeks than they currently do. It makes no sense based on the attendance record of most MPs now. What most people would like is for all MPs to stand down so that the people can examine the facts and decide whether they're worthy of re-election. We'd also like the system changed (not just talking about it), so that MPs are paid a salary, taxed as normal people i.e. they earn £64k but most people aren't aware that first £30k is tax free which makes their salary a lot more attractive then it first appears. Any expenses should be receipted and publicly displayed as is the practise in the Scottish Parliament, for example. There should be no 2nd homes paid for, as MPs aren't away from home for long enough to make this economically advantageous.

Anonymous said...

Despite your dogged, but somewhat misguided, defence of Julie Kirkbride I see she has decided to stand down at the next GE (as has Margaret Moran.) Can't blame them really - they would both have been roasted by the electorate or, more likely, deselected by their local party. Shame we won't get the chance to show them how we feel at the ballot box.

bladerunner86 said...

In your post you state "The woman behind it is a leading light in George Galloway's Respect party, yet as far as I know this fact hasn't been mentioned once." However isn't this also the very nature of our political system to be adversarial. Wise up Iain surely you should know that behind every petition there is a partisan or vested interest attached. What's different with this petition and the one at No.10 asking Gordon Brown to resign?

mrs p crowther said...

Julie Kirkbride is an excellent kind caring hard working lovely MP and Bromsgrove will be a poore place withwout her, she works hard for us in Bromsgrove. I am so grateful to you for telling us who was behind this petition a vile little man, anything to do with George Gallaway would make me stop and think is this true. The woman behind the petition is no heroic local citizen but a bully. I am just so sad Julie has been hounded out and think it should have been left to the voters.

patricia Crowther said...

Julie Kirkbride is an excellent,kind caring,lovely MP and Bromsgrove will be a poorer place without her.I am so grateful to you for informing us who was behind the petition a vile little man, anything to do with George Gallaway would make me stop and think is this true. The woman getting signitures is no heroic local citizen but a bully. I am so sad Julie has been hounded out and think it should have been left to the voters to decide.

Nick said...

. I am just so sad Julie has been hounded out and think it should have been left to the voters.

-----------

I angry it wasn't the police. Might still happen

julie freeride must go! said...

@ p crowther
yes, we can just tell all about you from your sneering attitude. 'vile little men' not knowing their place under the tory horsewhip! (there's some institutional bullying for you to masticate over. Wake up, this isn't the C18th anymore. You might be pleased that bromsgrove is still a last bastion of your supposed 'ruling' class, with no little brown men running rife (why are there no ethnic taxi drivers in bromsgrove, hmm? ever wonder that? just 10miles up the road in Redditch, there are plenty. why not bromsgrove?!)
Kirkbride was an adequate MP in a safe seat. She smiled, took pictures, did all the right things, I agree. Just that they were for her own types, she was looking out for. All the outer, well off areas, were her concern. The actual town centre and proles could dry and shrivel, as far as the ruling tory gentry are concerned (as long as they pay their tax and cause no trouble)

The only problem, was she got caught out at last. And, this speaks volumes about your own morality, you think this is not worth criticising! still a lovely woman in your eyes.

And next time you tut at how this country is, take a loooong look at yourself, and you might see just how things could have gone so wrong under your 'watch'.