What Links Expenses and Torture: New Labour’s Total Immorality. 47

It is good that details of MPs expenses have got out. I am sad if they were sold rather than leaked in the public interest, but they should have been available, unredacted, anyway.

Having said that, the Telegraph has made a massive pig’s ear of its big scoop. It majors on Gordon Brown paying his cleaner through his brother. That sounds to me unwise of Brown, but really not a huge front page story. I am not convinced Gordon Brown fiddled anything.

On the other hand, Hazel Blears changing her official second home designation three times in a year, in order to get the taxpayer to pay for furnishing all her homes, is simply crooked. As are Hoon’s multiple home arrangements. Jack Straw only paid back his “accidental” excessive claims for mortgage and council tax after the Freedom of Information Act ruling that expenses would be published. The Telegraph throws away the really crooked transactions in the odd phrase.

Straw’s expenses are particularly interesting. He has lived in a series of London government mansions ever since 1997. The taxpayer pays for his Blackburn flat, but his real home is his £1million plus Cotswolds property. Just where Straw gets all his money is an interesting question. Some real investigative journalism into Straw’s relationship with his bagman, Lord Taylor of Blackburn, and the peddling of influence for the defence industry, would be more interesting than anything the Telegraph reports today.




But I am struck by the continued government mantra of “It was all within the rules”, which Harriet Harman is being trotted round the television studios to spout this morning. Harriet has the job because she hasn’t made dodgy claims. She is old money. Her family don’t even notice the odd £100,000.

But this idea that it is OK to stretch the rules to the limit – with no worry whether it is right or wrong – is not a minor point. It is done for advantage, so it is immoral, not amoral.

It is an issue which has been heavily on my mind since I gave evidence on ministerial complicity in torture to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights last week. Nobody except me and possibly Cranley Onslow showed any horror at torture. There was instead a discussion on the finest details of whether there was any possible way this may be declared legal, “within the rules”.


Even on an issue like torture, right and wrong seems to have disappeared completely from our national political discourse. Is it any wonder they are fiddling their expenses?

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47 thoughts on “What Links Expenses and Torture: New Labour’s Total Immorality.

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  • Silent Hunter


    They are unfit for government and should be removed from power immediately.


  • JimmyGiro

    Silent Hunter,

    We need a bloody revolution, it isn’t just Zanu-Labour, who happend to get their fingers caught in the till, it is the whole system.

    A general election will simply take us from the frying pan to the fire, as we will surely end up with a Conservative ‘one-party’ state as before.

    We need to make it undesirable in a basic animal sense for anybody, left or right, to believe they are safe to commit sleaze or malfeasance. There needs to be a violent object lesson played out for all to see and learn from, that taking liberties with liberty has personal consequence.

    I don’t think that embarrassing politicians is sufficient, since it presumes they have a sense of decency and integrity to appeal to; therefore we need to resort to something a little more direct to their ill-gotten welfare.

  • dreoilin

    “I don’t think that embarrassing politicians is sufficient, since it presumes they have a sense of decency and integrity to appeal to”

    Plus, they can produce a ‘terrorist plot’ to take up media time at the drop of a hat (guaranteed). Today’s news is tomorrow’s fishwrap, and never more so than in this generation of information overload and short attention spans. I wonder is anyone under 30 reading this blog? I would hope so but …

  • dreoilin

    Blair and Gordon’s lot remind me so much of BushCo. Right and wrong don’t matter – teasing out words and their meanings to get around the law is all they’re interested in, apparently. Do they have consciences? They’re not visible.

  • Leo Davidson

    It should be illegal to refer, in any official capacity, to any of these people as “The Honourable Gentleman” (etc.) as it is clearly a contemptuous lie.

    It’s irritating to think of all the times the government have harped on about benefit frauds and asylum seekers (or for that matter things like IR35) while so many MPs have been systematically playing the system and leeching off the state to this day.

    Reminds me of when the benefits fraud people had that annoying ad campaign a few years ago, and opened a website where you could grass people up. I grassed up the biggest benefit frauds I could think of:


    AFAIK they did not act on my tip-off. 🙂

    …back to the main story: It’s good in a way. That these people behave in a consistently immoral way, whenever given the chance, makes it harder to overlook or excuse any of their actions.

    The excuse that they meant well over Iraq and it was all just a big messy mistake — rather than an evil plan by evil people to do evil things — doesn’t wash so well when the evidence suggests that these people lie, cheat and steal every time the opportunity arises.

    If Obama ever actually follows through with his promise to close Guantanamo, I’d suggest that as a new state-sponsored home for this lot. Give them a taste of their own medicine. They are the real terrorists*, after all. (*People who use fear of violence to further a political agenda.)

  • Abe Rene

    The General Election next year will bring retribution, and it may happen even earlier if the government loses a vote of confidence. And that could happen soon, if we see dissent over the proposed privatisation of the post office and the treatment of Iraqi interpreters.

  • Anon

    Bush declaring that his opponents in the ‘war on terra’ lost their rights under the Geneva Convention, which was raised in front of the JCHR, was a statement which the JCHR committee were enourmously relieved to hear. It took the small amount of edge out of the proceedings that a blanket cover-all excuse had been issued by a higher power.

    We have to challenge the illegality of these Zionist scumbags. It doesn’t matter how many politicians and generals hide in the petticoats of the Zionist Neo-Cons, Obama’s administration must prosecute their illegality. At the moment he is running scared. If he doesn’t, the Brezinsky Neo-Dems will intensify the unacceptable actions that the UK has to accept in oil-rich regimes in order to stay in the trans-Atlantic colonial club.

    In reality, long before these further extremes of violence hit our newspaper headlines we will be knocking on Europe’s door to please , please bail us out and accept us under their economic wing.

    The victorious Tories will be so humiliated by this event that nasty New Labour will be restored to power with Mr Nasty Blair as Told you so in chief. Blears needs to keep practising her Uzbessy-where? and buying new curtains every time she blows her nose or worse on the old ones.

    That is the future of British politics unless Bush aand Blair are locked up for their crimes. We will be hiding under the petticoats of Europe and looking the other way at Genghis Khan proportions of destruction in order for the US to continue to avoid changing its habits of oil consumption. With our imminent technological know-how, nobody needs oil or war. These bastards just like bashing Muslims. They’ll even run out them one day if they carry on this way.

  • Jaded

    You are quite right about Jack Straw and some of the mass media. The BBC sort of said he had done something ‘wrong’, but didn’t explicitly say it like that. More shockingly, GMTV this morning said they accepted he had made an innocent ‘mistake’ and that he had paid it back ‘around’ the time of the High Court ruling and did not specify it was actually ‘after’. A guy from The Telegraph even went along with that! Good old Harriet then said ‘none of these claims would have been paid out in the first place if they were ‘wrong”, but Straw’s antics singlehandedly contradict that statement. Think of how much we are losing in Europe to all of this corruption. MP’s should be MP’s for the right reasons and be beyond reproach. They should not have second jobs, should have no business connections and live and breath being honest and setting an example for the rest of us. They may not be a panacea, but i’m voting UKIP.

  • George Dutton

    And to think a single mother/father who works a few hours a week while claiming inadequate benefits to house,cloth and feed her/his children must be burnt at the stake and demonised.

  • Ruth

    I agree with JimGiro. A change of government will make no difference whatsoever.

    There is such massive corruption at the heart of government (those that make policy and direct the party in power) that when ministers fiddle expenses it is accepted behaviour.

    The real criminality of government is in its hidden economic measures.

  • Jaded

    Between the Tories and New Labour yes. If the Lib Dems get in it will make some difference and if UKIP get in it would make more difference. The key is pushing hard for immediate changes if an alternative party does get in. An alternative party actually getting in is the difficulty.

  • tris

    Where, oh where would this shoddy bunch of chancers be without blind “rules” and “targets”?

  • nextus

    Morals are hugely important in politics. The government serves as the state’s moral executive, charged with implementing the moral will of the masses, and it needs to make major ethical choices when the rules have not yet been laid down. The MPs reveal their moral character by the choices they make, but they can’t rely on the ‘all within the rules’ mantra to justify them. And they know it.

    As their spokesperson, Harman voluntarily acknowledged the seriousness of their failure to command public confidence, the limitations of the rules and the steps needed to address them. But it’s too late. Her comment that the claims were made ‘in good faith’ is utterly false; the MPs who deviated from the normal patterns of reasonable claims were clearly twisting the rules in order to profiteer from the public purse ?” there could be no other purpose. So now we have a measure of their true moral nature, it’s up to us to judge their suitability for acting as our executive.

    If they broke the law, they would be judged by the judiciary; if they breached the rules (as some did) they should be judged by the institution imposing the rules. Transgressions of common morality are to be judged by the people. Unfortunately, the parliamentary system gives the electorate scant influence over politicians and the party system offers little choice between them.

    Time and again they’ve deviated from decency to the maximum extent, even reinterpreting definitions in the rules (e.g. ‘second home’, ‘complicity’, ‘torture’) to spite the underlying ethics. If the moral executive thinks that’s OK, we’re in trouble. How can we hold them morally accountable? Joint Committees and Public Enquiries aren’t up to the job, because they think their role is only to enforce the rules. So how else can we do it??

  • JimmyGiro

    Hmmm, cui bono ?

    Having looked at some of these reports, it seems like we have two lists; the list of the named and the default list of the un-named.

    The second list is what I’d call the Harriet Harman list of the ‘un-named’, since she and those others not in the named list, will benefit relatively in as much as they are covered in less shit.

    Expect Harriet Harman to be promoted by the ‘un-named’, as the next party leader, very soon whilst the smell is still fresh.

  • kathz

    I noticed that the Today programme said no Tory spokesman was willing to speak on the subject. Presumably we’ll soon hear about their expenses.

  • Jason

    One MP chappie showed what a good sort he was by saying, “I left 40000UKP unclaimed…”

    Translated for normal folk:

    “I’m honest, because I could’ve stolen more.”

    This notion that morality is unimportant, that all that matters is “not breaking the rules” and that, even when this happens, it is always a question of “an oversight”, “an admin error”, “an inadvertent…” etc. The politicians just will no longer take any measure of personal responsibility. We could also push the point that issues that used to produce automatic resignations no longer do. And even those who do resign, Mandelson or Blunkett, appear to be on pieces of elastic and bounce back into view months later!

    The Tories are no better though.

  • rules_my_foot

    Rules are Rules, so we are told!!!!!

    Who the effing hell wrote up these rules?

    The same bunch of benefit scrounging, fraudsters, whose selection to the post was based on their predisposition to lining their own pockets, and those of their masters, with nothing planned for change of any sorts for the great unwashed.

    Anyone whom ever entertained the notions of trying to bring about equity, liberty, and egality, in anyone of the major parties have always been branded; radical, loose cannon, extremist, ad nauseam. Simply put the current bunch of crooks sitting there and making up the rules as they go along, and then proclaiming the moral high ground by pointing to all and sundry that blame the rules not us Gov! Are only engaged in sophistry, for the benefit of confusing the addled brained punter another day, and claim yet another expense claim.

    Finally, Craig points out that Telegraph have made a pig’s ear out of the data, trouble is he is mistaken, Telegraph does not give a hoot about the expenses, all it, and its sponsors are busy with; is to foment an early election, and if not set up the grounds for the coming elections so that the new batch of the piggies can be trotted out and set up closer to the trough, so that these too can get their turn and get on with some serious claiming business, whilst keeping busy to the schedules of criminalizing we the people even more, and perhaps go as far as introducing a tariff for breaking wind, nuder the pretext of cutting down the emissions contributory to the global warming, hence slapping a fifty pence tax on a can of beans, and the rest of the food stuff, to keep the money rolling in, for the fear of frightening the millionaires off of our shores in search of a better tax haven.

    Lets face it, all those whom want to change our world for the better are left out, whilst a bunch of career politicians are left to get in to do a job which most of the people would do for free at a great expense. It is about time that on the application form for the “job” the following question is added; “how much remuneration would you expect if elected?”

  • anticant

    Craig, I hope you will endorse Charles’s latest post. It seems a great idea to me.

  • sam


    The whole outrageous pig-trough fraud is inextricably and ineluctably part of a piece.

    This government manifests authentic signs and symptoms of deepest corruption. One of which signs is that no one involved appears to be able to recognise the terminal disease they harbour. That is the epitome of corruption, surely?

    One could almost feel pity for the whole herd – but only if their concerted activities were not so thoroughly immoral, evil and murderous.

    The huge problem is that this corruption now infests every layer of government and local government as well as just about all other gvt-dependent organisations.

    The even bigger problem is how to recover from this evil immorality. Once this administration is out, we’re going to be constantly regaled with horror story upon horror story about corruptions from minor to major. It’ll take the UK decades to recover. I believe things have become that rotten. We may even need a cleansing, redemptive Nuremburg moment.

  • anticant

    You’re absolutely right, Sam. I’ve been bleating on for ages about the collapse of public morality. The worst part is, this government and their minions don’t seem to know what morality is, let alone that they haven’t got any. Yet they are constantly lecturing us on standards, how we should behave, etc. etc. like a lot of drunken nannies on a bender.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    George – you say:-

    ” I agree with JimGiro. A change of government will make no difference whatsoever.

    There is such massive corruption at the heart of government (those that make policy and direct the party in power) that when ministers fiddle expenses it is accepted behaviour.

    The real criminality of government is in its hidden economic measures.”

    And – do you really think that the Troies are going to be any better? Sounds like a ‘change of system’ is what is needed…

  • Jaded

    I think you are mistakenly reading above the comments as to the identity of who authored them – instead of below – on the odd occasion Courtenay.

  • Polo

    I am a former Irish civil servant. I have travelled a fair bit in my work dealing with international financial institutions. When abroad, I always identified with what I call the Anglo-Saxon view of expenses. It was clear that British participants in meetings were always very aware that their expenses were financed by the taxpayer. They were careful spenders.

    I don’t know to what extent this was inbred or due to careful supervision of their expenses at home base. But no matter. It was an attitude, and one which I shared.

    At the end of my year’s service on the board of a multilateral financial institution HQ’d in London (how many of these are there?) it was pointed out to me that I could have had a ball with a corporate credit card, but the thought had never even occurred to me to put in for one. Again a question of attitude.

    There must be many civil servants in this position and they must be disgusted by the current attitude of the political class to swill the trough dry. I certainly am.

    BTW: “Anglo-saxon” is meant here in a complimentary sense equating to careful husbandry (& wifedry!)which I am sure the Celtic periphery would be happy to identify with.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Jaded said: – “I think you are mistakenly reading above the comments as to the identity of who authored them – instead of below – on the odd occasion Courtenay.”

    Thanks for pointing out. Guess I got it ” bottom side up” instead of “bottom side down” – so to speak – huh?

  • D. Edmund Brady

    The only thing that matters now in our

    once great country is multi culturalism,

    political correctness, and the well being of those whores in Westminster, and it is all our own fault. That any human being is prepared to countenance torture for any reason at all is an illustration of what we have become. Our

    Christian heritage, and the principles

    of our civilisation are daily under remoresless attack, especially by our

    Marxist enemies that mysteriously the

    British people keep voting in, and yes

    that also includes the (sic) conservative party, with a very small c.

    Unless a real nationalist government takes control soon we will all become

    drones to the NWO. The EU will devour us

    when our “Leaders” go to them, as is planned, for financial help. God help us

    and our poor children.

  • paul dray

    I find this incredulous, not because I am surprised, but because of the extent and the sheer blatant arrogance that these greedy burghers express themselves in excuses…I was on benefits of less than £80 a week for me and my little girl (I am a single parent- the causeof the split up from her mother? Financial stress brought on by paying more than half our meagre salaries on tax and rent). I had to beg a charity for help with a fridge, washing machine, and vacum cleaner (as I have asthma)…The State told me I can wash our clothes in the bath, buy food daily, and I can use a brush to sweep the dust from the busy main road where we lived…The MPs in question are earning £150,000 plus, that equates to just under £3,000 a week!! And they still get £22,000 to furnish a flat!! Why? When I am on the poverty line, they are earning way above wot I earned in a year, do they get such help?

    I only hope that there is a God and he will judge and punish these greedy people…

  • Jaded

    ‘Thanks for pointing out. Guess I got it ” bottom side up” instead of “bottom side down” – so to speak – huh?’

    Yes, I can easily see how you got confusd though. Read a comment in the middle of the thread and it does seem logical that the author and comment would be in between the lines. When you decide to post a reply to a particular comment at the bottom of the thread you don’t happen to notice that the last entry on the thread is the author and not the comment. I think we should have a big debate about this. :-0

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