Tuesday, February 05, 2008


The Curious Case of the Wintertons

'I'm a great supporter of public schools' declared Nicholas Winterton on Any Questions a few years back, 'they made me the man I am'. 'And that is precisely why I'm so opposed to them', responded Paul Foot, to widespread laughter. Sir Nick, has always been a bit of a right-wing stereotype as well as someone whose brows are seldom furrowed by serious thought, but I always respected his work on the Social Affairs Select Committee, where the value of his work was in inverse proportion to the appreciation it received from his party whips. And his work as a constituency MP is attested by the increasing size of his majorities down there in Macclesfield.

But this business with the flat in London really defies belief.
According to the Daily Mail the husband and wife MPs:

have claimed £165,000 in Commons expenses for their £700,000 second home six years after they paid off their mortgage. Tory politicians Sir Nicholas and Ann Winterton switched their fashionable London apartment to a family trust and used their parliamentary allowances to avoid death duty. Using a loophole in Commons rules, they claim more than £30,000 a year in "rent" from the public purse, which is paid to a family trust set up for their two children.

On Look North last night, they refused to respond on camera but claim they did nothing illegal according to Commons' rules. This may well be the case but surely something must have told them that having bought their flat some years ago, exploiting a loophole to squeeze more money out of the taxpayer- and this from a man intent upon imposing tax cuts- was just a little, you know, at variance with the spirit of the idea of official allowances? When they set up this little, albeit legal scam up, did they not think about how it might look if it became public?

Having said all this, I also find myself agreeing with George Monbiot today over Hain's acceptance of money for his doomed deputy leadership campaign from a former supporter of South Africa's National government:

He was a brave and remarkable campaigner. But in 2007 he trampled his medals into the mud to get the money he needed.

He adds,tellingly, that:

This is the story of our political system, of most of the world's political systems. You enter politics with the highest ideals and end up grovelling to multi-millionaires.

Monbiot, being a multi-millionaire, can fund his own campaigns. No wonder he's so insufferably smug....
So Monbiot had rich parents connected to the awful Tories? I'm glad he saw sense and am grateful for his campaigning activities. 'Smugness' is an accusation often made by unfulfilled people at those who have succeeded in doing something worthwhile.
Ah but dear old Moonbat has never actually done anything has he? He's never run so much as a whelk stall let alone a government department.

He's a typical armchair-bound critic trotting out half-baked solutions and pouring scorn on those who are actually making some real progress on environmental matters in this complex world....
And examples of 'real progress' would be....?
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