There seems to be an increasing willingness among politicians to give high regard to disgraced ex-colleagues.
Only last weekend, Nick Clegg praised Chris Huhne, who faces sentencing today after being convicted of perverting the course of justice regarding speeding points on his driving licence.
Now Liam Fox has weighed into the debate on future Conservative Party policy. Dr Fox had to resign after being asked why a man who was not a part of the government had attended more than half of his official engagements including trips abroad, at the public expense.
His ideas are just as appalling as Theresa May’s plan to take away all of your human rights, as detailed in this blog yesterday.
He wants to freeze public spending for the next five years – that’s well into the next Parliament, no matter who wins.
He wants to spend the money this will allegedly save on tax cuts, notably capital gains tax – in other words, another nice little earner for the very, very rich. Odious, aren’t they?
Like Vince Cable of the Liberal Democrats, he wants departmental budgets that are currently ring-fenced to lose that protection – including the NHS, schools and international development.
The NHS is already the subject of controversy over its spending because the government has claimed budgets have increased, while the UK Statistics Authority stated categorically that they have dropped.
Most schools have been under-funded by Michael Gove, in favour of his ridiculously expensive ‘free schools’ project. Under Dr Fox’s plans, unless your child is privately-educated or has been cherry-picked to go to one of these new institutions, their education would suffer and their chances in life would be hugely reduced.
International development is hugely controversial as well. At a time when the UK is struggling to pay for itself, critics say, the country should not be giving cash away to foreign nations.
And he wants to end protection for universal benefits – such as the pensioners’ winter fuel allowance.
Pensioners: This Tory wants to take away the extra money you get to heat your home during the winter, and the Liberal Democrat Vince Cable wants to means-test or tax the pension for which you have spent your entire working life paying. Do you really want to vote either party back into power to do these things to you?
Fox is a leading member of the Tory right-wing, and this is clear from his demands. But his own past actions make his current intervention laughable. He wants to cut public spending by – according to his own calculations – £345 billion over five years, yet he himself is an expenses cheat who has overspent taxpayers’ money on himself and his friends.
In 2009 it was reported that he had claimed £19,000 on expenses for his mobile phone bill over the previous four years. He said he was looking for a cheaper tariff.
He overclaimed £22,476 in mortgage interest payments, which he was forced to pay back in 2010. Fox said he had decided to remortgage his second home to pay for redecorations, and claim the higher interest repayments on his expenses because this represented value for money – he could have charged the taxpayer for his decorating bill directly. This was not true, according to the judge dealing with the case.
A study of Parliamentary records in the Daily Telegraph showed that he was receiving rental income from his London home while simultaneously claiming rental income from the taxpayer to live at another residence.
And then there’s the big one, for which he lost his job: Fox’s relationship with Adam Werrity, who had lived rent-free in Fox’s flat, had accompanied Fox on 40 of his 70 official engagements, attended meetings with foreign dignitaries and had used official-looking business cards which stated his was an “advisor” to Fox.
Fox resigned in advance of publication of an official inquiry’s report into the matter.
What a shame he can’t keep his mouth shut.