Margaret Moran breaks a promise

Margaret Moran, the Labour MP for Luton South, famously submitted an expense claim to cover the cost of getting dry rot at her second home treated. Dry rot is, as we all know, very unpleasant and has been connected to respiratory ailments, so it's well worth getting rid of it. All MPs that represent constituencies outside Greater London are entitled to claim for the costs of maintaining a second home close to Westminster, so that they'll be able to attend late night and early morning sessions in Parliament. Unfortunately, Ms. Moran's second home isn't anywhere near Westminster - it's in Southampton, 80 miles away, which - by an amazing coincidence - happens to be where her partner lives.

Margaret Moran. She's have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for those pesky kids at the Daily Telegraph.
Copyright-free image from Wikipedia.

Nice one, Ms. Moran. Entitled to a second home you may be (whether or not that's morally justifiable is a debatable point, however, since Luton really isn't very far from London. In fact, it looks to be about 35 miles - maybe you should take the train into work one day and ask all the commuters who manage the same journey twice a day whether it's practical) but it seems safe to say that you successfully ripped off the tax-payer for a cool £22,500 there. Good scam.

Interestingly, after the Commons redactors had been to work with their black felt-tips, editing out a fair old percentage of the data contained in this week's online expenses publication, this rather flagrant example of the system's failings does not appear and so had it not have been for the Daily Telegraph we might never have found out about it.

Conservative Bill Cash has also failed to pay back any of the £15,000 he claimed to cover rental costs of a property which was subsequently shown to be occupied by his daughter and Ronnie Campbell, Labour for Blyth Valley, hasn't begun paying back the £6000 he claimed to purchase furniture, despite the fact that at the same time he was claiming to pay for the rent of a fully-furnished flat.

Back to Ms. Moran who, after she was caught and told off, decided she'd step down as an MP at the next General Election. She says that's due to stress, though, not embarrassment - she's probably telling the truth, since anybody with so little conscience they'll happy take £22,500 from the very people that put her into power and a position where she could abuse...sorry, make use of the expenses system in the first place is very unlikely to have the capability to feel shame. She did, however, say she'd pay back the amount in full even though she maintains that she has done nothing wrong and that having a home 100 miles away from Luton is of vital importance to the town's Parliamentary representative.

Well, that was good of her. She claims that she cannot afford to pay it off in one lump sum, even if she does earn a basic MP's salary of £64,766 per year and despite the fact that she owns four homes, and so she pledged that she would pay it off in instalments. That was a month ago - she has still not paid back even a penny as the payment plan is still being negotiated.

Ms. Moran, Ms. Moran, Ms. Moran. You know, if I was a Luton resident (and I thank God each and every day that I am not - I have little worry that any Lutonites will find fault with me for saying that since they'll be even less keen on the place me, having to live there as they do. Poor buggers) I might - and it's a very, very big might - have tried to persuade you to stay on after you promised you'd make amends. After all, we are all only human, and it is in our nature to be tempted. We all make mistakes, and even if I only wanted to vote for you again so there was a chance of keeping the evil that is Esther Rantzen at bay it'd have been worth trying. Up until today I might have, anyway - for the moment, I'd be reserving judgement because if you don't pay back some money very soon, we're all going to start thinking you're a liar as well as a bit of a scam artist.

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