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MPs’ expenses: rubbing it in?


OUKTP-UK-BRITAIN-CLEMENTFury, resentment and a general feeling of being hard done-by is reported to be the prevailing mood amongst MPs as they reconvene after the Summer break to find brown envelopes of an unwelcome sort waiting for them.

These are the already infamous “Legg letters,” the latest symbol along with duck houses, moats and mole-catchers of the expenses scandal which did so much damage to all parties earlier this year.

Written as a result of the inquiry headed by former civil servant Sir Thomas Legg, they assess the expenses claimed by each MP between 2004 and 2008 and, where anomalies have been found, they either demand repayment or clarification.

Gordon Brown is to pay back 12,415 pounds, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg 910 pounds and SNP leader Alex Salmond 700 pounds. David Cameron has been asked to provide more details about his mortgage repayments.

Was Norwich North just a local protest vote?

At 27, the Conservative candidate in the Norwich North by-election Chloe Smith becomes the youngest MP in the Commons.

She turned Labour’s 5,000-plus majority in the seat into a 7,348-vote winning margin and keeps the Conservative bandwagon rolling. The election had been forced by the resignation of Labour MP Ian Gibson, who claimed almost 80,000 pounds in second home expenses on a London flat which he later sold at a knock-down price to his daughter.

Duck soup


Last week it was pigs who saw their image dragged into the mire as they became symbols of the MPs’ expenses scandal. Now it’s the turn of the ducks.

Ducks are waddling all over the newspapers today after the revelation that Tory MP Sir Peter Viggers claimed 1,645 pounds for a so-called “Stockholm” pond house to give his ducks shelter from foxes and the cold.  

The BNP at Buckingham Palace


The British National Party (BNP) says its leader Nick Griffin is planning to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace next month, hosted by the Queen.

All members of the London Assembly have been invited, and since last year they include the BNP’s Richard Barnbrook. He wants to bring Griffin as his guest.

Speaker Martin: scapegoat or villain?


Michael Martin, Speaker of the House of Commons, is under pressure like never before and news reports say he might even announce his departure on Tuesday afternoon.

The chief officer and highest authority of the House has become a lightning rod for the strong current of anger swirling around Westminster as the row over MPs’ expenses rumbles on.

Echoes of Italy’s Clean Hands revolution


The shockwaves reverberating through Westminster as the MPs’ expenses scandal unfolds have been compared with the “Clean Hands” bribery scandal that effectively demolished Italy’s post-war political establishment in the space of a couple of years in the early 1990s.

If things are going to get that bad, the guilty politicians are going to have an uncomfortable time.

Let’s hear it for the pigs


It’s been a grim time for pigs.

First they were blamed for the swine flu that caused a worldwide stir after it was discovered in Mexico — and now everyone’s likening them to Members of Parliament with their snouts in the trough.

But look at the facts. The genetic make-up of the virus may have been predominantly porcine but the pigs themselves didn’t have it. Even at the supposed epicentre of the outbreak in Mexico they showed no symptoms — things reached such a state that owners of some pig farms in the US were stopping humans coming near them in case they infected their animals. The pigs were innocent OK?