17 October 2010

Peerless scammers

I cannot remember any political episode that has given me as much lasting pleasure as the humiliation of the entire British political class by the expenses scandal. By comparison the Watergate affair in the States was just a partisan stitch-up, falling far short of revealing the full squalor of American politics.  

I bless the Telegraph for breaking the story, and I bless the Sunday Times(£) for doing a similar number on the  House of Lords. A police investigation into the frauds perpetrated by two dozen mainly Labour peers, the worst offenders being the egregious Manzila, Baroness Uddin, and the wealthy Swarj, Baron Paul and Amir, Baron Bhatia, was scandalously halted after the Clerk of the Parliaments in the House of Lords changed the rules on expenses to retrospectively legitimise the claims of the titled cheats.

When Blair announced his "reform" of the House of Lords, I presciently wrote in Rebels and Redcoats:
After centuries in which the House of Lords, on occasion alone, resisted relentless centralization, the British are now to find out whether it will be an improvement to have an upper house packed with government placepersons and others possessing all the attributes of petty criminals save the minimum courage required to rob the helpless openly.
Some rags of honour have been salvaged by a Lords Committee chaired by ex-MI5 chief Eliza, Baroness Manningham-Buller, ably seconded by  ex Lord Chancellor Derry, Baron Irving. They decided not to let it go, and despite squealing from the Labour swine about Uddin's alleged poverty, and threats to play the racism card, have done as much justice as they can to the multiculty trio.

The committee recommends, and the House will almost certainly confirm, an 18-month suspension for Uddin and order her to repay £125,000. Paul, who has already over-paid back the money he (under the rules prevailing at that time) fraudulently claimed, is to be suspended for four months. Bhatia faces an eight-month   suspension and the repayment of £27,000.

They follow on the heels of the Conservative peers Paul (very) White, Baron Hanningfield and the black John Taylor of Warwick, whose collars have been felt for fraud despite the change of rules, and two more Labour peers, Thomas Taylor of Blackburn and Peter Truscott, who were stung by the Sunday Times offering to change laws for cash and were found guilty of "misconduct" by the aptly named Lords Privileges Committee, which merely suspended them for six months.

Role models, anyone? 

P.S. 22 October. Sure enough, the three-for-one (Muslim, homosexual and generous donor) Labour peer Waheed, Baron Alli, played the race card yesterday, only to be firmly slapped down by Shreela, Baroness Flather, the first Asian woman to be awarded a peerage.

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