It was always the little things that bugged me, when it came to the original MPs’ expenses scandal. While the second-home flipping and duck shelter building was clearly beyond the pale, it was the packets of biscuits (or was it Jaffa cakes?), Mars bars and other petty cash items that revealed for me the deepest corruption and starkest illustration of them just not getting it.
You put a packet of biscuits on your expenses claim, it’s because you see them as something you’ve been forced to buy as a part of your job, perhaps to entertain visitors to your office. So let’s say you have a packet of Jaffa Cakes for 80p and you’ve got a meeting, and you lay on the teas and put the Jaffa Cakes on a plate. Let’s say I believe you. But, see, if I did that, I’d have to prove, somehow, that those Jaffa Cakes were a necessary business expense, and provide documentation. A lot of us work in places where free tea and coffee is but a distant memory. My particular place takes £2 a month off everyone, and we get emails moaning at us because some people use the milk in the morning on their cereal.
You provide me with a written testimonial from all meeting attendees that Jaffa Cakes were consumed and how many each person ate, I’ll consider your 80 pence claim, all right?
Moving on to the larger issue, let’s consider the minister who resigned because a £90,000 salary and £30,000 expenses weren’t enough for him to spend time with his family in Westminster. Let’s not dignify him with a name. Of course, £120,000 a year is plenty enough to live on, even in That London, as long as you lower your expectations.
The problem with Tories, of course, is that they’re obsessed with status, and – even if they aren’t – all want to pretend they’re part of the 1% (or the 0.1%!). This means, at the very least, a swanky London flat, a house in the country, private school for the kids, private medical insurance. Their idea of lower expectations is to choose one of the minor private schools.
Politics, of course, doesn’t bring you power and influence, so it’s an odd choice of career, except when you consider that being a minister opens doors to board rooms and gives you a ticket for the gravy train. So a resignation like this is simply a case of someone sticking out their thumb to get on. Imagine what it’s like to work in the House of Commons and overhear these bastards complaining about struggling along on 3x the average wage.
That they preside over a political and economic system that has Russian oligarchs and wealthy Arabs flocking to London to buy property and avoid taxes, creating a housing bubble that prices even themselves out of the market seems to be an irony too far for their tiny brains.
If I chose to work in London, I’d have to buy a rail season ticket out of my own pocket and commute – just like thousands of other people do. And if I was lucky enough to have a job that would subsidise a 4-nights-a-week bed in London, I’d have no right to expect that to cover the rest of my family. Furthermore, I’d have to pay for my own lunches, dinners, and Jaffa Cakes.