Friday, 17 July 2009

Money Well Spent

MP expenses are a thing of the past - the line has been drawn and the blood has been let. The show is over, folks. Move on, nothing to see here.

The Assembly expenses hardly got a mention even though in Wales they recently voted to stop paying for second homes there, even though the vast majority of Assembly members can commute there by car or train pretty easily as the gruelling schedule of the mechanics of Welsh Government was not quite as demanding as Westminster. But the expenses gravy train must go on.

It was good to see yesterday that the whole thing still has some legs left. After all, we had only really been exposed to second home allowances, we hadn't really got to the bottom of the vast amount of frivolous spending that goes on such things as travel and offices for those 600+ jokers on the make in the West End. Top of the list came the travel spend of the Prime Minister.

You might have thought that the prudent financial genius of an ex-Chancellor would be quite cautious about the cost of travel - it certainly looks it as he seems to have been wheeled through hedges in a barrow by the look of his suits most of the time. However, of the staggering £9.4m spent by only ministers last year, the PM's share alone was over half.

Where the hell did he go and by what means?

Well there was that fantastic, historical political dash across most of the world just prior to the G20 Summit - that was a snip at £744k alone. We still scratch our heads as to why he had to go to Brazil and Chile on that trip but then we remember that his flying partner, Peter Mandelson, had a few 'regulars' to see over there. It was a trip that saved the world, of that we can be sure.

Meanwhile, the expenses of his country house, Chequers, have been published too. The PM has clearly diverse tastes in entertainment and does not need to watch TV as the likes of Bruce Forsyth, David Walliams and Matt Lucas all came to visit while his good old chum and adviser, Fred Goodwin, visited not six months before he was cast out like the knighted criminal he was - banished with a fat pension like a common thief.

Of course, most of this is chickenfeed when compared to his predecessor who was so obsessed with travel he was contemplating getting a presidential plane to be designated 'Blair One' - he can almost personally afford one now under his new pious regime, after dinner speaking and non-executive non-jobs. He and his ministers used to keep RAF jets waiting on the tarmac at Brussels airport as ministers whooped it up and were not kept to the rigours of scheduled flights or use of the Channel Tunnel.

Let's be honest about it, shipping 27 idiots around the globe prior to G20 saved us a fortune really as we have spread the resultant bill over our outgoings for the next 20 years. And Peter M had a lovely time in his 'second home' of Brazil.

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