Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Little More on Tam Dalyell & His Books

I've got a little supplementary to the Tam Dalyell bookcases story. Remember, he put in a claim for £18,000 for new bookcases only two months before he retired from Parliament in 2005. In the event the Fees Office only paid him £7,000. Poor chap. Must have been on his uppers after that.

So hard up was Mr Dalyell that he decided to spend a few more taxpayer pounds - admittedly only about £30 that I can prove, but as we have seen, every penny counts, doesn't it? How did he do this?

Well, if you have bookcases which cost that amount you need some nice books to fill them. Clearly, just as ordinary book cases weren't enough for Mr Dalyell, nor were ordinary books. So he set about sending them out to authors to get them signed. Nothing wrong with that - except he used House of Commons postage to do it. And not only that, he enclosed a House of Commons franked SAE for the authors to send them back to him in.

I know the names of two well known authors who received books in this manner from Mr Dalyell and there were at least two others. But if there were four, there were probably more.

OK, it's not exactly on the scale of Duck Island or Elliott Morley's mortgage, but when the Telegraph can devote half a page to Jo Swinson supposedly claiming for a 29p eyeliner when it only devoted about 6 column inches to two Labour Peers being chucked out of the House of Lords, I don't think I will be taking any lectures about proportionality!


BJ said...

Re Jo Swinson: You seem surprised by the Telegraph's First Law. This is: When given the excuse to print any details of the private circumstances of a fruity lady, do so at length.

Bob Melton said...

I expect you're sore he didn't buy the books from Politico's, Iain.

Iain Dale said...

Yup, that must be it.

Glyn H said...

Tam D wrote the Indy obit for ‘Bermondsey Bob’ Mellish, (the Dockers friend who later defected to the SODPALs) the labour chief whip who cooked up the ACA introduced in 1972. Whilst it is obvious that the ACA has been abused – duck islands and dry rot in a third property are not solely etc. due to your need for a 2nd home for Parliamentary duties; it has been overlooked that this allowance was introduced after the last time a Socialist Government lost control of the economy and Mellish (a trade unionist to his core) was reported as saying that his boys may fill their boots as HMG could not raise their salaries; in those days a sensible £7,000pa. or so. Elsewhere Squealer Martin has been heard saying he did not come into the house to not take out that to which he was ‘entitled’ and regarded himself as the MPs convenor – god, where there one, help us! Connect that background to the Sofa Government, politicisation of Spads and the rest of the dismal detritus of the last 12 years and you have the Socialist Heaven to which MP’s and peers of all stripes have been drawn. Widders for interim Speaker? She would be fabulous - restand even?

neil craig said...

I'm going to be po faced in support of Tam. These bookcases seem to have been so that he could keep a careersworth of Hansards in order. Considering that he was undeniably an outstanding supporter of Parliament who eschewed office to hold ministers of all parties to account I do not begrudge him a penny of what is the equivalent of a long service gold watch & think it would be petty to do so.

If he had been listened to when Donald Dewar said "Tam Dalyell is wicked and alarmist to suggest that the cost of the Parliament Building will be on penny over £40,000,000" we would have saved rather more than the cost of bookcases.

I suspect that part of the reason Jo Swinson's eyeliner is a story is because she is sexier than Tam - the press living down to its standards as normal.

Simon Gardner said...

I have been frankly staggered that Tam Dalyell of all people has been caught up in this scandal. (I used to read him in New Scientist when he was parliamentary correspondent.)

Regrettably, there have been a number of such surprises and doubtless more to come when local papers get the data.

Cicero said...

Surely not Mr. Dalyell: he is after all Sir Tam Dayell of The Binns, 11th Baronet, if you please...

Lexander said...

Mmmm 'tis true; never really trust a public school "socialist". Sir Tam has always appeared, at least to me, to be slightly mad! I bet the bookcase was rather nice though.

voiceofourown said...

Neil, it's not up to Tam to award himself a "long service gold watch" at the expense of the taxpayer.
The sheer arrogance of the man is breathtaking.

Richard Allen said...

It is disappointing to see a man of Tam's stature get involved in something like this but on the whole he made a positive contribution to public life and so unlike others he should be forgiven.

Anonymous said...

The Telegraph are leaning over backwards to make it look as bad as they can for Tories, and going soft on the huge Labour scams.

I saw Brown on TV News trying to explain why Blears was wrong and Hoon / Purnell were OK.

He kept looking to the left - a sure sign he was making it all up - or should I say lying through his teeth.

Hoon knows where the bodies are buried over the Iraq invasion.

Anonymous said...

Anyone noticed Chris Mullin's diary entry for 1 May 2002?

“Andrew Mckinley dropped a little bombshell at this afternoon’s meeting of the parliamentary committee. Apparently, under the Freedom of Information act, by January 2005 MP’s expenses will be subject to public scrutiny, retrospectively. Goodness knows what mayhem that will cause. “We are in a jam” said Robin Cook. “Few members have yet tumbled to the juggernaut heading their way”. He said that he had been advised that we could probably get away with publishing headline figures and it would be desirable to publish a year before the deadline so that any fuss would have died down before the general election. It was agreed not to minute the discussion.”

They were talking about this seven years ago - and did nothing.

Twig said...

Tam should auction bookshelves and give the money to poor and vulnerable people on Secret Millionaire.

I wonder how many Secret Millionaires there are in the Labour Party?

Anonymous said...

According to earlier reports he needed the bookcases to keep all his copies of Hansard on!

Obviously essential to his work as an MP; 2 months before he retired.

Swatch said...

Definitely not worth the effort as the Tories deserve much more attention on this score, not least Douglas Hogg. As for Tam Dalyell he’s already gone, so what’s the point banging on about him? Leave the Lords of the Binns to his peacocks.

Even if you accept that he used official postage to send a few books back and forth this doesn’t constitute a hanging offence. Is that all you’ve got? Since you’ve been digging for ages I’d have thought more would be forthcoming.

As for Margaret Moran: if she pays back the money I don’t see why her position is any different from that of Michael Gove. Luton party members are supporting her and she could easily beat off Esther Rantzen (who just wants to get back on TV). Is this what it’s coming to – really low rent celebs muscling in on parliament? At least Martin Bell was the real deal. Rescuing the careers of a That’s Life presenter shouldn’t be a priority.

DAG said...

i thought your blog dislayed common sense. You are now so biased against GB and Labour that in my view you have lost all credibility and I am not sure I want to read you any more. Why no commments on David Davis and his new porch?

Glyn H said...

Martin Bell the real deal? Pull the other one, the man in the crumpled and dirty white suit was a stooge of Campbell. Just so funny the po-faced little tick promised it was just a charade and would only stand for one term - and then had to stand by his word! It boosted his self-importance and income so much that he has been trying to get back ever since! Still, we can soon enjoy the spectacle of seeing how many ex MPs can earn £65k let alone the approx £150k I see that it has been computed to be worth with all the tax free ACA etc.!

JuliaM said...

"So he set about sending them out to authors to get them signed."

Blimey! I thought Barbara Cartland was dead!

"I have been frankly staggered that Tam Dalyell of all people has been caught up in this scandal."

And Simple Simon proves once again why political tribal loyalty vs taking a good look at the man/woman's deeds rather than words is never a good idea.

neil craig said...

I have to acknowledge voiceofourown 12.05 that you are correct. And yet I do not begrudge Tam a pennny of this. This may be hypocritical of me treating one of the MPs I respect differently but so be it.

Bird said...

Sir Tam of the Binns!
Is that wine binns?
When I retired as a head teacher, the adoring staff and parents clubbed together to buy me a set of golf clubs.
I had never played before and haven't since. My deputy had misinterpreted a satirical remark about spending my declining years working on my golf handicap.
The said clubs are still gathering dust in my garage.
Now, if I were Tam, and could choose my retirement present? And put it on the school's budget?
Nah, I wouldn't have the brass neck.