Shahid Malik - Escapologist!

We'd been wondering what our old mate Shahid Malik, the Labour MP for Dewsbury, has been up to since we last reported on his travails relating to his expenses claims which are generally considered to be, at best, slightly shifty if not outright fraudulent.

Shahid Malik - wizard!
Image adapted from one at Unyclopedia, used according to Creative Commons license.

Shahid, as we all know, was forced to step down from the Cabinet (which is politician-speak for "asked to go") when the Daily Telegraph revealed that they were ever so slightly confused over precisely which of his properties was his second home since he seemed to be spending most of his time at the one he said it was - this, according to Parliamentary rules, means that he ought to declare it as his first home and be responsible for the maintenance himself. Next thing you know, people were accusing him of trying to get the tax-payer to fund his luxury lifestyle, which was all a bit unfair - after all, why should our man with his £95,617 per annum salary be expected to pay for his own big television and massage chair? Some people thought he might have been renting his constituency flat - owned by a personal friend of his - at a preferential rate too, which would have been frowned upon as well, because MPs are required to mention things like that.

Poor old Shahid then had to go through the indignity of being investigated by a Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, and things were looking bad. But, as luck would have it, he was found not guilty even though he couldn't provide proper records to show what he'd been paying - either way, Gordon Brown gave him a nice new job in his freshly reshuffled Cabinet. Hurray!

But the big bad bullies at the Telegraph hadn't finished with him yet, and they started saying that Shahid had also been claiming for two different sets of office space - and what's more, one of them formed part of his house and that's not allowed either. Now they say that he claimed £1015 more than he should have done to cover the cost of his Council Tax too, which Mr. Brown is going to feel a bit embarrassed about because when he gave Shahid his new job, he made him Under-Secretary of State for Communities and, in that role, guess what he's partly responsible for...? Yep - Council Tax!

There's an old saying: shit sticks. It means that, if you can stir up enough controversy around a subject, some of it will forever be associated with that subject. Another old saying maintains that there's no smoke without fire, which means that if there is indication of something happening, then something is happening. Mr. Malik has now been so entangled in the expenses furore that even if he was able to produce miraculous evidence that proved he's done nothing but behave better than a shock-trained labrador on Ritalin, he'd still have a faint dodgy whiff about him for the rest of his career. Anyway, all these stories of his supposed impropriety couldn't all be false, could they? There must be a grain of truth, somewhere...

That last paragraph nakes him look a bit of a political albatross all in all, and you have to wonder why the Prime Minister - who has been working hard to clean up his battered government in the hope that they won't take quite such a kicking come the General Election as they did in the recent local and European elections even though he knows they cannot possibly win - might want someone of whom the electorate now have a deep suspicion in his Cabinet. Mr. Malik is beginning to look like the star pupil of Lord Mandelson's Surviving Scandals and Damage Limitation Academy.

So anyway, back to the story. As we were saying, we were just wondering what Shahid's been doing with himself for the last week or so since the censored expenses details were published, knocking him out of the headlines so we Googled his name. We haven't had sight nor sound of him since then and he hasn't even popped round for a cup of tea since...er, well, he just hasn't popped round for a cup of tea.

But guess what we found on Google?
Shahid Malik - magician, illusionist and escapologist, no less! Suddenly, everything is clear!

Well, bugger me! They must be related to one another, surely? The likeness is far too great for them not to be family!

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