22 May 2009

Scamalot: dead ducks or dotty Dorries?

It needed a huge effort to top Douglas Hogg's dirty moat, but Peter Viggers' ducks finally did it this week, when it transpired that they had been claiming for a second home in the MP's duck pond, when in fact, it was their main home (or something like that).

The scandal has been so successful that it has cracked the US, getting its own slot on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and being dubbed "Scamalot" (see below for full clip).

I have blogged about this topic about as extensively as I have any other on this blog (great political story - easy to have a quick opinion) and in the main I am appalled, outraged etc, about the claims being made on the public purse by our MPs. However, there are two respects where I am starting to diverge from popular opinion: first, there seems to be disbelief that any MP (or at least one who lives within a couple of hours of London) could possibly require a second home to do their job properly - and that this should be somehow paid for by the taxpayer and secondly, that the natural reaction to this is to say "a plague on all your houses" and either refuse to vote, or vote for a supposedly clean fringe or extremist party.

So I was interested to hear Nadine Dorries on the radio this morning as she is one of the few MPs who has coherently (and from a position of innocence) attempted to put into context some of the claiming that has occurred (also blogged by her here). More interestingly, she has called out the entire media (but clearly the Daily Telegraph) for playing the shocked innocent card themselves, making out that the existence of MPs allowances is newsworthy in itself, or that a £24,000 tax free allowance was no more than a thinly veiled £40,000 pay increase.

I am also pleased to see that Iain Dale has picked up on the story of the council by-election in Hazel Blears' constituency, which was a Labour HOLD but saw the BNP move into third place, 17 votes behind the Libdems (whose vote slumped by 22%), and combined the minor parties (BNP, Greens and UKIP) took 33% of the vote. Even though council by-elections can be a very poor indicator of national trends (total turn out = 1612), these figures are pretty shocking, suggesting that there are plenty of feeble minded people out there who think that the criminals who run the BNP are better equipped to run the country than [the fraudsters running] the exisiting main parties. But how does the BBC report this: on the front page of its politics page we have: "Labour holds poll in Blears ward" - complete with a smiling photo of the idiot-savant herself, Hazel, declaring that she is "delighted". Dear God...

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