Saturday, July 25, 2009


Brown's Reputation for Political Judgement in Tatters Over Norwich Byelection

I have just seen John McDonnel MP in Breakfast telly talking about Ian Gibson and the Norwich debacle. He made the points that:

1. Gibson's transgressions were of a different and more minor order than the likes of Elliot Morley and company.

2. Some Cabinet members, caught out over expenses, were treated differently to Gibson and escaped scot free.

3. Labour Party activists in Norwich pleaded with Brown but were not listened to in the slightest- Gibson was summarily consigned to the knacker's yard, possibly because he had always been an independent and not easily biddable voice.

4. All the above encouraged Labour voters in this traditionally Labour seat, to stay away from the voting booths.

My reading of it, and I do know Norwich a little, is that Brown, encouraged probably by Mandelson, was trying desperately to 'up' his game on the scandal and match Cameron's decisive 'punishment' of MPs caught up in the expenses row. In his desperation, he completely misread the situation and: a fine MP has been forced to retire; local activists are totally disillusioned; and the constituency now has a Conservative MP. The fact that Chloe Smith took time out to say gracious things about Ian Gibson in her acceptance speech, speaks volumes about the magnitude of Brown's mistake.

I can accept some of that, but he bought a house out of tax payers money, he sold it for half price to his daughter so just saying the house was worth £150,000 then she bought it for £75,000.

Lets not kid ourselves thats not a few quid thats fraud at the top end. OK we knew it was going on and I agree others like Purnell did just as much. But the point is voters not within Labour are looking and say shit I cannot buy a home if he can do this why can I not get help with buying a home.

Labour were supposed to be clean above board, even my MP who has been told yes she was within the law but out side the moral ethic code for spending £900 a month in eating in restaurants in our town, she does not live here she lives in London, I know of no restaurant in my area in which I could spend that much money, she is only here on a Saturday morning, she has apologized now. as she said OK I accept it's wrong because most people do not earn that in a month, but the damage is done. You want a good life become an MP it seems

I will not vote Labour again after 40 odd years, I cannot trust them anymore.

Yes we do have some hard working left leaning MP's the LRC is a good solid group, sadly we have just as many money grabbing pigs who knew dam well what they were doing..
Not sure I agree with this. Gibson certainly used taxpayers money to buy his flat. But MPs need a second home in London if they live as far away as Norwich! That's the sound reason why the allowance was brought in. It's the flippers and people within Gtr London who exploited it who are the frauds. Once it was his, why shouldn't Gibson sell it on to his daughter, given the rules at the time? The rules should have included a 'clawback' clause but they did not so I still think he was badly treated. More importantly, so did his local party and they were not listened to.
I think the point is that Gibson may have kept within the letter of the law. But not the spirit. He exploited a loophole in the rules, used taxpayer's money, and effectively defrauded the taxpayer of 75k.

I think he got entirely what he deserved. That said, I think Brown's motives were less than pure. He used the outrage from this affair as a cover to remove an MP of the awkward squad. And he clearly didn't apply the principle evenhandedly. Other more "loyal"(that is loyal to Brown, not Labour's electoral prospects) MPs got away with more. This is typical of the man Brown and such brazen dishonesty is one reason why so many Labour supporters won't vote for him next summer. I pray he leads them into an election, for some of the others could expose the ridiculous Dave.

Gibson got what he merited. Whether that was politically expedient is an entirely different question. I think it would have made little difference in any case. Aside from a few loudmouths in the constituency(awful people masquerading as activists), I think the wider public's views on the expenses scandal are well known. If Gibson had stood, it would have been a one-issue by-election and he'd have been stuffed. In some ways he comes out of this affair with the moral high ground. But most people looking at the facts will know that he behaved disgracefully and shamed Parliament(or at least the idea of what it used to stand for).
Gibson paid £195K for his flat in 1999 and sold it to his daughter for £162K ihn April this year 'at a time when prices were falling' according to him. So not sure where your figure of £75K comes from. Nor do I think selling on a property after receiving wholly legitimate assistance is a fraud, at least in my book. How was this a loophole? How did he behave 'disgracefully'?
I agrere with you re how he was targetted by GB as someone he was keen to jettison for reasons of expediency.
I can see where your going MP's who buy a second home from tax payers money would see this property as well extra income, a place to sell when you retire or walk away. OK I can accept that, but I wonder would a person waiting for ten years for a council house see it this way.

The whole expenses has been a mighty big mess the Lib Dem's doctor Owen I think summed it up talking a few months ago, he was told in 1979 for god sake stop moaning about how much you get paid use your expenses.

Morally a lot of MP's have been stupid after looking at it OK I see your point, but the system was wrong and sadly it bit him on the back side.
Fair play on the 75k figure, I misread Robert's example as the real figure.

That said, using the figures you quote Skip...

Given house price inflation in the UK, a flat valued at 195k in 1999 would have been been worth 429k in April this year. Why did he sell a flat paid for by the taxpayer at barely a third of its value?

My point was that the assistance was legal(under the rules drawn up by MPs themselves). But not moral. His behaviour WAS disgraceful. He enriched himself at the taxpayers' expense, pushing rules to the limit whilst lecturing beleaguered British business, at a time when his party has virtually bankrupted the country. For that he deserves to be unemployed.

And a lot more of his Westminster colleagues will be joining him on the dole queue next June.
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