David Blackburn

MPs in four-letter tirades against IPSA staff

MPs in four-letter tirades against IPSA staff
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The new parliament has drawn its teeth but the MPs’ expenses scandal continues. Throughout June and July, Westminster rumbled with aggravation about IPSA. There were whispers of MPs flying off the handle at IPSA staff; yesterday brought concrete reports of outright threats and intimidation.

The accounts in this morning’s press are shaming, even by the standards of this saga of pornos and sugar-daddies. IPSA’s staff have been reduced to tears by raging MPs, they have been sworn at and told that the system they operate is a ‘fucking abortion’. Owing to legislation introduced during the previous parliament, I’d be prosecuted if I informed the guard on a delayed train that he and the system he ran were ‘fucking abortions’. The hypocrisy of MPs, which has accompanied the expenses scandal at every turn, is stomach-turning, indicative of latent amorality and fatuous arrogance.

The continued deceit, self-entitlement and bullying mask an important issue. The solutions to the expenses crisis were rushed by a government that produced half-baked policies like trailer-trash pop out kids. Sir Thomas Legg, a mandarin with a dud reputation, was appointed Witch-Finder General and contrived an unmitigated fiasco, over-charging MPs and leaving the system open to legal challenge. IPSA followed: an inflexible and overbearing system which, as Tom Harris has pointed out, puts MPs and staff at constant odds. Neither a general election nor the new system has proved cathartic; what will? Scrapping IPSA and starting again (with a little thought this time) would seem the sensible option.