My frustration with this whole interminable MP’s caught-fiddling-their-expenses business is that it could have – should have – been the best thing that could have ever happened to the Labour Party. A year before the election, “Conservative MPs are discovered to have basically stolen tax-payers’ money to spend on their own moats, duck-palaces and so forth.” That’s the ideal story. It would remind voters that the Conservative party are a bunch of opportunistic shysters, greedy and corrupt in the way that only those born into over-privilege can achieve. It would show up David Cameron for the ineffectual leader that he is – sanctimonious and glib, with policies about as robust and tangible as a hologram of a cloud.
But – and this is what makes me livid – a small but not small enough bunch of Labour MPs were also caught red-handed with their fingers in the House of Commons communal money bucket. Now, clearly their money-grubbing lacks the sheer audacity and imagination of the Conservatives’, and it’s always for niggling borderline things like declaring the VAT on the fees of accountants giving advice on deferring interest payments on mortgages – but it creates the impression that they’re all as bad as each other. With Labour coming off worse, because while you expect this sort of licentious behaviour from the Toffies, you expect better of Socialists.
The reason why this happened is because of this small but not small enough bunch of Labour MPs who are, basically, ideological opportunists. Labour should be about representing and empowering the underprivileged and wiping all social inequality from the face of the Earth. That’s what should get them up in the morning. But instead you have a generation of career politicians – people who go into politics just because they want the power, the prestige and the money.