Alex Massie

Parliament of Chancers

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Like Bagehot I think this one of most entertaining - and revealing - reactions to the revelations of the Great Expenses Swindle of 2009:

The latest batch of expenses details revealed by the Telegraph included the fact that Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson had made a claim of £304.10 for the upkeep of a swimming pool.

In response he said: "The pool came with the house and I needed to know how to run it. Once I was shown that one time, there were no more claims. I take care of the pool myself. I believe this represents 'value for money' for the taxpayer." Priceless, if you know what I mean. Imagine poor Mr Jackson's shock on discovering that the house he'd bought came with a swimming pool and that, regrettably, the cost of its upkeep would naturally be wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred in the performance of his parliamentary duties. And like you, dear reader, I'm comforted by Mr Jackson's assurance that all this represents value for money for the taxpayer.

Mind you, that shouldn't prevent the good burghers of Peterborough from suggesting Mr Jackson find fresh employment after the election.

Cameron may, as the Bossman says, have done well today, but there are plenty of Tory MPs who deserve to be thrown out of parliament come polling day. Ragbag, meanwhile, digs up a Toqueville quotation that sums-up the whole sorry and crooked situation most effectively:

"Nothing is quite so wretchedly corrupt as an aristocracy which has lost its power but kept its wealth and which still has endless leisure to devote to nothing but banal enjoyments. All its great thoughts and passionate energy are things of the past, and nothing but a host of petty, gnawing vices now cling to it like worms to a corpse."

Aye, that seems about right. O tempora, o mores...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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