Tory right-whinger Peter Bone is the latest MP to face questions over his expenses.
The inquiry will focus on expenses relating to the upkeep of his second home between 2005 and 2009. As such, the investigation will be carried out using the system that was in place before it was reformed after a string of scandals in 2009.
Both George Osborne and Maria Miller had their expenses examined under this system, so we can expect Bone to get away with any wrongdoing as well.
From evidence that has emerged in the Osborne and Miller investigations, it is clear that the pre-2009 investigation system was completely useless except as a way of whitewashing MPs’ reputations.
Of course, Bone is a frequent contributor to Prime Minister’s Questions, where he often claims to have been prompted into making a query by his wife.
In the unlikely event that he is found guilty of a misdemeanour, will he be blaming that on Mrs Bone as well?
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Dorries or Bone: Who is the most vile? That is the question facing MPs at the moment.
The position of deputy speaker in the House of Commons is vacant – and Tory backbenchers are falling over each other in the battle to make the silliest bid.
The vacancy has occurred after Nigel Evans quit the post to fight allegations of sexual criminality.
We have already heard that Nadine Dorries has made the priceless offer to put herself beyond Parliamentary debate by standing for election – now it seems that Peter Bone, he of the long-winded Parliamentary questions and the long-suffering wife, has also put his name in the hat.
For when he interrupted Paul Flynn during the debate on the Transparency of Lobbying Bill yesterday, saying “I am slightly worried that if he carries on for much longer we will not be able to grill the Leader of the House”, Mr Flynn responded that he would not want to deny the honourable gentleman — a possible future Deputy Speaker of the House — that privilege.
“I believe that he is one of the candidates,” said Mr Flynn. “It is fascinating to get these invitations. One from an honourable lady said, ‘Vote for me and you won’t have to put up with me on the benches. I will be silenced.’ Therefore, we are voting for the one we most want to silence and we think is most loathsome.
“It is a hard task, because we have a rich choice.”
Don’t be complacent: It may seem as though the Coalition government that has blighted the UK for the past three years is marching willingly to its own demise – but that is by no means certain. We must all be vigilant against the apathy that allows them to spread their poisonous views and convince impressionable people that they are speaking common sense ideas that are held by the majority, when we all know that this is a falsehood.
So Gideon George Osborne is announcing £11.5 billion of cuts to be implemented from April 2015 to the end of March 2016 – so what? There will be a general election the following month and he would be delusional if he thinks his party will win.
Ed Balls has said Labour would match the Coalition’s spending totals for that financial year, but we should not be fooled into believing this means Labour would make exactly the same choices as a Conservative or Conservative-led government. It won’t.
Ed Balls could cancel the lot and, working with a decent Labour Work and Pensions secretary (not Liam Byrne), install a new system aimed at the causes of unemployment, sickness and disability, and still pay less than the current government.
You see, Tories aren’t really about saving money for the taxpayer. They’re about making poor people pay taxes to support rich people who don’t need them.
That’s just one – extremely oversimplified – example of why I don’t think we have to live in a country dominated by ‘Ballsbornism’, even though I coined the expression earlier today in a response to a comment.
‘Ballsbornism’ implies a consensus economic policy, much like the ‘Butskellism’ of the 1950s that married the ideas of Tory Rab Butler and Labour’s Hugh Gaitskell, and recent announcements by Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have stirred up fears that the Labour front bench has capitulated to the Tory economic viewpoint.
This blog has been part of that, and I make no apology for it. Like all political movements, Labour must be made to see that it cannot take the easy way out. People’s lives – no, I’m not making this up – depend on their decisions and those lives will be on their conscience if they cock up the system (as Osborne has been doing) or make lazy decisions.
The Tory-led Coalition likes to say its policies on benefits “encourage” people to sign off (and goes on to suggest that they then get jobs, although the evidence is overwhelmingly that they end up with no form of income at all); if we want better for our future, then the people of this country must similarly “encourage” Labour into policies that will genuinely improve our situation.
I have outlined my opinion of what those policies should be, in a previous article, so need not rehash them here.
And let’s remind ourselves of the absolute lunacy that could be foisted on us if the Conservatives come back into power: Tory backbencher Peter Bone, alongside similar-minded nutters, has compiled an alternative Queen’s Speech (or is it an alternative to the alternative, as Labour already produced one?).
This suggests restoring the death penalty for criminals (we all know this leads to injustice); privatising the BBC (more money for rich Tories who don’t deserve it, along with a diminished and politically-biased national broadcasting service), abolishing human rights legislation (to the huge detriment of all citizens and working people who rely on it, as discussed many times on this blog), and renaming the August Bank Holiday as ‘Margaret Thatcher Day’ (an insult to everybody whose lives were blighted by her policies).
Bone, whose bizarre pronouncements create semi-regular moments of comedy during Prime Minister’s Questions, told the BBC he was “putting forward Conservative policies” that would be “very helpful” to David Cameron.
This is an elected Conservative member of Parliament, remember – one of several who have drafted these proposals. And let’s not forget the Free Enterprise group of Tory right-wingers, whose book Britannia Unchained suggests (wrongly) that British workers are among the laziest in the world, and anyone unemployed for more than six months should do 30 hours’ community service and lose 10 per cent of their benefits, as if being forced out of work by (Tory) employers was a crime!
So let Osborne have his moment, when he announces his review on Wednesday. Then reflect on where you’ll be putting your vote in 2015 and enjoy the prospect that he will have wasted his breath.
Feeling a bit peaky, David? But the revelations about your Tory friends and Liberal Democrat partners should hardly come as a surprise!
It must have been very difficult for David Cameron, returning from his spectacularly ill-timed holiday in the sun to find that his colleagues had been having a much better time than he has – at home.
It seems that he returned to “crisis talks” at Downing Street, where aides told him of a “sensational love affair” which has potentially significant political implications for him. Apologies for the hyperbolic language involved, but this information comes from the Daily Mail.
The newspaper said it could not disclose the identities of the people involved in these shenanigans, or any details of the relationship, for legal reasons, so the speculation machine has probably gone into overdrive and by the time this reaches your screen, The Sun has probably already disclosed the names of the co-respondents.
For those of us who aren’t that clued-up, it’s great fun to speculate. The paper said they are middle-aged figures, the affair has now concluded, and it does not involve anyone serving in the Cabinet.
Who could it be? Longtime readers of this blog will know that Vox Political has long harboured hopes of a Michael Gove legover crisis – or indeed a Michael leGOVEr crisis (see what we did there?) – but in all honesty this seems unlikely until medical evidence can prove that he is compatible with a human female.
So who, then? Nadine Dorries and Nigel Farage? Peter Bone and a human being? Doubtful. Boris and… Boris and-
It’s probably best not to pursue that line of inquiry. Far more interesting to sit back and wait for the ‘poshed-up’ version of the Jeremy Kyle show, in which all will be revealed.
With the curtains closed, of course – not as the badge of a serial skiver, but simply to avoid the shame of having to admit watching an episode of Kyle.
The worse news is, this wasn’t the only story breaking about government misdeeds. It seems that Cameron’s Liberal Democrat Coalition partners have been playing “pork barrel” politics (yes, it’s the Daily Mail again) by diverting taxpayers’ money into key Liberal Democrat-held constituencies.
We now know that a £2 billion scheme to refurbish roads, pavements and bridges in Nick Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam constituency has been reversed, in a deal with private business that took the project off the government balance sheet. A private finance initiative? We all know that PFI projects don’t turn out well for anyone involved other than the companies, so Clegg may have given himself a shot in the foot, rather than a shot in the arm.
The Mail also reports dodgy dealings by Danny Alexander. Apparently Beaker insisted on extra funds for mountain rescue teams, a VAT cut for ski lifts and the retention of the state subsidy for the Cairngorm Mountain Railway – all in his Highlands constituency.
And Lib Dem Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael (who?) apparently forced the abandonment of plans to cut the coastguard service, affecting his Orkney and Shetland constituency, claiming it was “a Coalition matter”.
So it must have been very difficult indeed for the comedy Prime Minister to return from holiday and learn of such appalling behaviour.
Difficult, but not a surprise.
Let’s face it – it’s little different from the way they behave when he’s at work.
Get your votes out: But Vox Political believes there are probably far more MPs in this photograph than bothered to vote in the amendment to the Queen’s speech seeking a commitment to an EU referendum.
Golly gosh – all that sound and fury over the Tory amendment to the Queen’s speech, and it’s defeated by 277 votes to 132. More than 200 MPs didn’t even bother to vote.
What an anticlimax. But then, what did we expect?
The simple fact was that Peter Bone’s amendment to the Gracious Speech (its correct title) was never going to get any traction. Labour and the Liberal Democrats don’t want a referendum; neither do many Tories.
And the Crime – sorry, Prime – Minister, who was initially well-disposed to the idea of an amendment, changed his tune after several media outlets including Vox Political reminded him that he would have to resign if it succeeded, and apparently instructed his cabinet to abstain.
Did anybody see his interview with, I think, Tom Bradby on ITV yesterday evening? It was all about whether Cameron actually has the chops to lead the Conservative Party, and his contribution can be boiled down to: “Yes, I am the leader of the Conservative Party. I am exhibiting leadership. This is because I’m the leader. Leader? Me!I’m THE LEADER!”
I half-expected him to burst into a chorus of I’m the Leader of the Gang (I Am) – and half-relieved when he didn’t, because of the obvious connotations of quoting the person who made that song famous.
The EU referendum amendment was chosen for debate and a vote by the Speaker, John Bercow – but it wasn’t the only choice.
What if he had chosen Labour MP John Mann’s amendment, which was extremely similar to Peter Bone’s, except for one crucial substitution. It ran: “respectfully regret that a bill to call a referendum on reversing NHS privatisation was not included in the Gracious Speech”.
How many would have supported that? Probably all of the Parliamentary Labour Party, most of the smaller parties, and perhaps even a fair number of Liberal Democrats, who are now – with only two years left on this Parliament’s clock – looking over their shoulder at a local electorate that has a lean, hungry and predatory look after three years of Coalition misgovernment.
It could all have been very different, if not for a cop-out by the man with the clout.
And does anybody think for a moment that this has put UKIP back in its box?
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