How am I expected to keep up with all this? Truth is, I just can’t. Andrew MacKay and Julie Kirkbride, Elliot Morley and John Maples etc etc etc: You win. I shall revert to rants about cricket and rugby and booze and the police and shopping and gardening. Anything really other than MPs’ expense claims. You lot are much funnier than me on this anyway. The only thing that won’t be funny is that people are going to be so off-pissed with the major parties that the rascists and the loonies will gain ground at the ballot box next time round. You fraudsters and scheisters should hang your heads. And I’m sure they’ll be lots more like you along any minute.
I was once hauled up in front of the beak—a particularly nasty, petty editor— who questioned my claim for a lunch with a friend on another publication who’d helped me/us on a really big story. He’d passed me phone numbers and details without which we couldn’t keep up with the then breaking news. Partly because of his help we looked sensational when we published. I took him out one afternoon and I treated him to a curry and a pint in a local restaurant. The bill came to 70 quid, 35 of which was treating myself (I wasn’t gonna let him eat alone).
An ex-colleague once tried to claim for mileage of 40 miles for a round-trip from Canary Wharf to The Millennium Tent in Greenwich. I wondered if he’d gone via Heathrow? Claim refused. Another ex-colleague tried to put her weekly visit to the hairdressers on expenses. Her ruse was discovered and she was shown the door. I’ve been using my own camera for and at work for 6 years now as I was refused funds to claim the cost of buying it, even though my job requires one. (Guess what’s coming out the door with me when I leave?). That’s ok—it’s dead money, but I was miffed at the time. There are always swings and roundabouts in the whacky world of expenses. All trades and professions deal with this. Some we win, some we lose.
Point is, even those jolly journos who are masters of the Dark Arts of dodgy expense forms, the Shakespeares of the blank-receipt have been left open-mouthed at the scale and brazenness of the Commons’ Claims Chronicles. They’ve been out-Shakespeared and want their pound of flesh. Well they’re getting it now, by the moat-load. But if you listen very carefully you’ll hear the unmistakable sound of the BNP and UKIP Nazis marching in tight formation into Brussels and towards a council chamber near you as the undecided are conned by their rhetoric. Not so funny any more, is it?
“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Peter Finch—Network