James Forsyth

Expenses and extremists

Expenses and extremists
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I’ve said it before, but I think it bears repeating: those MPs who stretch the rules and abuse the public’s trust when it comes to expenses are helping the BNP and other extremists. When the public hear about Jacqui Smith claiming for a bath plug, let alone porn films; Tony McNulty claiming taxpayer support for a second home just nine miles from his main residence; and the MP for Kensington and Chelsea—Sir Malcolm Rifkind—being reimbursed for flights to Edinburgh, it fuels the sentiment that the political class are living it up at everyone else’s expense. This plays right into the BNP’s narrative about a conspiracy against the white working man.

I’m actually sympathetic to MPs who live within what most people would think of as a commutable distance claiming for a second home. The nature of the job often requires MPs to stay late and start early—asking them to commute 90 minutes each way, would reduce their effectiveness. The problem is those MPs who take advantage of the system. If you’re claiming from the public purse, you should be frugal and only claim for what is strictly necessary not what you’re allowed to.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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