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11th September 2013: The world's gone mad and I'm the only one who knows
13th August 2013: Black is white. Fact. End of.
11th August 2013: Electric cars, not as green as they're painted?
18th June 2013: Wrinklies unite, you have nothing to lose but your walking frames!
17th May 2013: Some actual FACTS about climate change (for a change) from actual scientists ...
10th May 2013: An article about that poison gas, carbon dioxide, and other scientific facts (not) ...
10th May 2013: We need to see past the sex and look at the crimes: is justice being served?
8th May 2013: So, who would you trust to treat your haemorrhoids, Theresa May?
8th May 2013: Why should citizens in the 21st Century fear the law so much?
30th April 2013: What the GOS says today, the rest of the world realises tomorrow ...
30th April 2013: You couldn't make it up, could you? Luckily you don't need to ...
29th April 2013: a vote for NONE OF THE ABOVE, because THE ABOVE are crap ...
28th April 2013: what goes around, comes around?
19th April 2013: everyone's a victim these days ...
10th April 2013: Thatcher is dead; long live Thatcher!
8th April 2013: Poor people are such a nuisance. Just give them loads of money and they'll go away ...
26th March 2013: Censorship is alive and well and coming for you ...
25th March 2013: Just do your job properly, is that too much to ask?
25th March 2013: So, what do you think caused your heterosexuality?
20th March 2013: Feminists - puritans, hypocrites or just plain stupid?
18th March 2013: How Nazi Germany paved the way for modern governance?
13th March 2013: Time we all grew up and lived in the real world ...
12th March 2013: Hindenburg crash mystery solved? - don't you believe it!
6th March 2013: Is this the real GOS?
5th March 2013: All that's wrong with taxes
25th February 2013: The self-seeking MP who is trying to bring Britain down ...
24th February 2013: Why can't newspapers just tell the truth?
22nd February 2013: Trial by jury - a radical proposal
13th February 2013: A little verse for two very old people ...
6th February 2013: It's not us after all, it's worms
6th February 2013: Now here's a powerful argument FOR gay marriage ...
4th February 2013: There's no such thing as equality because we're not all the same ...
28th January 2013: Global Warming isn't over - IT'S HIDING!
25th January 2013: Global Warmers: mad, bad and dangerous to know ...
25th January 2013: Bullying ego-trippers, not animal lovers ...
19th January 2013: We STILL haven't got our heads straight about gays ...
16th January 2013: Bullying ego-trippers, not animal lovers ...
11th January 2013: What it's like being English ...
7th January 2013: Bleat, bleat, if it saves the life of just one child ...
7th January 2013: How best to put it? 'Up yours, Argentina'?
7th January 2013: Chucking even more of other people's money around ...
6th January 2013: Chucking other people's money around ...
30th December 2012: The BBC is just crap, basically ...
30th December 2012: We mourn the passing of a genuine Grumpy Old Sod ...
30th December 2012: How an official body sets out to ruin Christmas ...
16th December 2012: Why should we pardon Alan Turing when he did nothing wrong?
15th December 2012: When will social workers face up to their REAL responsibility?
15th December 2012: Unfair trading by a firm in Bognor Regis ...
14th December 2012: Now the company that sells your data is pretending to act as watchdog ...
7th December 2012: There's a war between cars and bikes, apparently, and  most of us never noticed!
26th November 2012: The bottom line - social workers are just plain stupid ...
20th November 2012: So, David Eyke was right all along, then?
15th November 2012: MPs don't mind dishing it out, but when it's them in the firing line ...
14th November 2012: The BBC has a policy, it seems, about which truths it wants to tell ...
12th November 2012: Big Brother, coming to a school near you ...
9th November 2012: Yet another celebrity who thinks, like Jimmy Saville, that he can behave just as he likes because he's famous ...
5th November 2012: Whose roads are they, anyway? After all, we paid for them ...
7th May 2012: How politicians could end droughts at a stroke if they chose ...
6th May 2012: The BBC, still determined to keep us in a fog of ignorance ...
2nd May 2012: A sense of proportion lacking?
24th April 2012: Told you so, told you so, told you so ...
15th April 2012: Aah, sweet ickle polar bears in danger, aah ...
15th April 2012: An open letter to Anglian Water ...
30th March 2012: Now they want to cure us if we don't believe their lies ...
28th February 2012: Just how useful is a degree? Not very.
27th February 2012: ... so many ways to die ...
15th February 2012: DO go to Jamaica because you definitely WON'T get murdered with a machete. Ms Fox says so ...
31st January 2012: We don't make anything any more
27th January 2012: There's always a word for it, they say, and if there isn't we'll invent one
26th January 2012: Literary criticism on GOS? How posh!
12th December 2011: Plain speaking by a scientist about the global warming fraud
9th December 2011: Who trusts scientists? Apart from the BBC, of course?
7th December 2011: All in all, not a good week for British justice ...
9th November 2011: Well what d'you know, the law really IS a bit of an ass ...

 

 
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In any other job they'd be jailed
by Melanie Phillips
 
Shamelessness in Parliament appears to be a truly bottomless well. At the weekend, another Government minister had to put his hands up to yet another expenses fiddle. Employment Minister Tony McNulty admitted he had claimed some 60,000 as a second-home allowance for a property which is actually his parents' home.
 
Despite the fact that he and his wife, Chief Inspector of Schools Christine Gilbert, live in a house that she owns just three miles from Westminster, the minister has been claiming up to 14,000 a year in Parliamentary expenses to help pay for the second house in Harrow where his parents live, 11 miles from the Commons.
 
When confronted with this charge, Mr McNulty initially claimed that he was doing nothing wrong as it was 'within the rules'. But then he appeared to change his mind and suddenly announced he had stopped claiming the second-home allowance - while denying that this was because, ahem, he had been caught out. More remarkably still, Mr McNulty, who is also Minister for London and a possible Mayoral candidate, went on to say that MPs who live as he does within 60 miles of Westminster should be banned from receiving the 24,000-a-year handout.
 
Even by the standards of this Government it takes some brass neck, after being caught out in a scam, to turn on a sixpence like this and attack others for doing exactly the same thing.
 
It's as if we're expected to think there's the Tony McNulty who has been pulling a fast one, but who is somehow quite different from the Tony McNulty who says the practice should be banned! Maybe the minister should seek treatment for a split personality. Perhaps he could claim that on expenses, too.
 
Mr McNulty certainly sees no contradiction in directing his sanctimony at everyone but himself. He was quick enough to condemn failed bankers for their enormous pay- offs; yet when asked to return the taxpayers' money he has trousered through his second-home scam, he was strangely reluctant to agree. What grotesque hypocrisy. But Mr McNaughty is merely the latest in a dismal procession of ministers who use ever more ingenious ruses to exploit the expenses rules.
 
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith claims expenses of 20,000 per year by arguing - imaginatively - that her sister's house where Ms Smith lodges during the week is her main home, rather than the substantial house in her Midlands constituency where she lives with her husband and young children.
 
In 2005, it was revealed that Children's Secretary Ed Balls and his wife, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Yvette Cooper, had switched their 'second-home' designation from their house in West Yorkshire to their 655,000 London home - even though their children go to school from this house - to help pay a 438,000 mortgage.
 
Last year, the Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell was accused of pocketing thousands of pounds in expenses and avoiding tax by designating one of his properties as both his main residence and a second home. He said his London flat was his second home so he could claim Commons expenses. But when he sold the property in 2004, he also said it was his main home - thereby avoiding Capital Gains Tax.
 
In all these cases, the excuse is always the same: such arrangements are 'within the rules'. To which the obvious reply is: so change the rules. If they are so loosely formulated that the word 'home' means whatever an MP chooses it to mean, however ridiculous, then there's something very wrong with the rules.
 
But in any event, the MPs' parroted response is wholly inadequate. The 'Nuremberg defence' by former Nazis was that they were 'only obeying orders'. The Westminster defence by MPs creatively interpreting their expenses is that they are 'only doing what the rules allow'.
 
But what about the question of whether or not this is right?
 
By any normal standards, it is outrageous for an MP to justify using taxpayers' money to fund his parents' house as if it is his own second home. A home is where you live. The sole point of the second-home allowance is to help MPs with constituencies far from Westminster to live within easy travelling distance of the Commons. But Mr McNulty's main house is in Hammersmith, merely nine London Underground stops from Westminster. Clearly, he doesn't need a housing allowance at all.
 
It is equally outrageous for Jacqui Smith to claim that her house in Redditch, Worcestershire, is not her main home when her children go to school from there.
 
Similarly, the reverse claim by Yvette Cooper and Ed Balls that their Castleford constituency house is their main home - even though their children go to school from their house in London.
 
It is plain that MPs are manipulating these allowances to help with the cost of their most expensive residence, wherever that might be. If that's within the rules, then to paraphrase Charles Dickens, the rules are an ass. But by the rules that really count - those of honesty and morality - such behaviour is simply a fraud on the public.
 
It's not even as if these people are struggling to make ends meet. Mr McNulty and his wife have a combined annual income of a third-of-a-million pounds; Jacqui Smith is on a salary of 141,000 per year; and Mr Balls and Ms Cooper rack up between them an annual income of 282,000.
 
Yet such MPs seem to regard a seat in Parliament as a ticket to a gravy train as of right. Instead of abiding by the spirit of the rules, they use them as a green light to get away with whatever they can - confident so many other MPs are up to the same thing that they will never be brought to book.
 
Even after the rules were revised following the uproar over the 'John Lewis list' - the informal guidelines on how much of their second-home allowance MPs could spend on home furnishings - MPs can still charge for white goods, sofas, chairs, tables, beds, cutlery and crockery, security fittings, cleaners and decoration to kit out their second homes.
 
There seems to be no end to the ruses they dream up to fleece the taxpayer. Some husband-and-wife MPs claim two sets of allowances to run the same house; other MPs claim mortgage allowances on properties they own outright; still others have put their spouses or relatives on their taxpayer-funded payroll.
 
In any other trade or profession, such behaviour would land people in jail. Yet as the public's watchdog, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards John Lyon has proved absolutely toothless. He cleared Yvette Cooper and Ed Balls of wrongdoing and twice rejected a complaint against Jacqui Smith, only finally investigating her after the evidence became too embarrassing to ignore.
 
MPs even voted to exempt their expenses claims from scrutiny under Freedom of Information legislation. In their determination to avoid transparency or accountability for their behaviour, MPs seem to be going out of their way to express contempt for the electorate. Quite simply, they have clearly lost all sense of what public service actually means. And correspondingly, the public have now unsurprisingly lost all faith in the Parliamentary process from which they are now dangerously alienated.
 
Especially at a time of growing economic hardship, these expenses scams are intolerable. While MPs fiddle, democracy slowly but inexorably burns.
 

 
The GOS says: Yeah. That's what I think, as well.
 
As one Daily Mail reader said, the obvious answer is to stop all these allowances and build MPs a hostel in Westminster instead. Pretty bright suggestion, for a Daily Mail reader.
 
P.S. This page was written before the revelation that Miss Whiplash Jacqui Smith had claimed expenses for her husband to watch porn movies. It just gets better and better, doesn't it? I guess Mr.Whiplash really is a genuine "Wanker of the Week"!
 
I note from today's press that MPs have demanded a police investigation into how this became public knowledge. After all, it's none of our business, is it, how these politicians spend our money?
 
Gordon Brown has announced that he regards this as "a personal matter" for Jacqui Smith. Well, Gordon, I have to correct you there: it's bloody not a personal matter when it's my money that's paying for it.
 
And let's not get bogged down by the two porn films watched by this sad apology for a man: there were three other films as well. Why the hell are we paying for him to watch "Oceans 13" (twice) and "Surf's up"?
 
As a perspicacious visitor to our Grumpy Guest Book wrote; "She wants to peer at my internet browsing history. I want to peer at hers! Come on, Jacqui, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear".

 

 
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