Category Archives: Sleaze

Snouts in the trough

Derek Conway is a throwback to the Tony’s who oozed round Westminster in the twilight of John Major’s time at No. 10. Self interested and sleezy. Sadly, he has offered little and left politics with any fragment of its credibility – and there’s not much left – removed. But at least he’s been stripped of the whip and forced to stand down at the next election. Good riddance.

In recent months sleeze and snouts-in-the-trough has been a Labour speciality. Blair encouraged it by his refusal to force disgraced ministers from David Blunkett to Steve Byers to Peter Mandelson out. At least Peter Hain quit on his own, but the reality is that he had run out of friends, not that he had many in the first place according to Westminster insiders. His excuses even before the matter of donations received by him was referred to the police lacked any credibility.

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David Wilshire … the noose tightens

Now that the full list of MPs claims are revealed, David Wilshire, the Spelthorne Conservative whose protests of innocence have looked increasingly weak of late, has more explaining to do.

It now appears that Wilshire – who owns three houses – claimed £160,542 in 2007-08, including nearly £200 for newspapers, £2,000 on meals and more than £9,000 on “communications”. In March of last year he spent over £2,500 on printer ink!

Between 2004 and 2008 Wilshire was the sixth-highest claiming MP, despite having a fairly compact constituency within 20 miles of Westminster. However, he has a house in Somerset and sees nothing wrong with claiming for travelling between that and Westminster, despite also having homes in his constituency and in central London.

He has refused calls for a constituency meeting, but pressure increased on him with news that Ian Taylor, from the neighbouring Elmbridge constituency, quit this week after a string of embarrassing stories about his spending. Taylor, of course, insisted his decision was unconnected to those stories.

Rumours have been circulating that Wilshire may face opposition from a high-profile celebrity at the next election. If he does, then his explanations will have to get much better than he has managed so far.

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David Wilshire – below the radar but still milking the electorate

There’s no shortage of stories about MPs taking the electorate for a financial ride at the moment, but just below the parapet are those who have not claimed for anything absurd and who, legally, are squeaky clean. Their moral position is, however, less secure.

Everyone should take a look at their local MP and see what he or she has been up to. To pick on one randomly, just look at David Wilshire, the Tory MP for Spelthorne, on the Surrey/London border. A time-serving backbencher, he has achieved little in terms of career (which is probably better for his constituents) although proved an adequate local representative.  His various records for presenting questions and speaking are below average. He is on no select committees.

But despite representing a borough within 45 minutes of Westminster by train (which many of his constituents use to commute) he annually claims the maximum of £23,000 for his second home.  His annual costs are higher than any other MP in Surrey.

Wilshire has three homes. One in Spelthorne, another in Westminster and a third in Somerset. That’s his right, but why on earth should we pay for him to do so, and then also pay more than £7000 a year for him in travel costs?

Last year, career politician Wilshire cost voters more than £160,000 on top of his generous salary. His majority is safe, although slipping, and, like many other MPs across the country, he probably thinks that means he doesn’t have to worry about a few disgruntled voters.

So far he has not commented, presumably because, like so many of his colleagues, he sees no reason to have to explain anything to the ordinary voter. But come the next election, the likes of Wilshire will come under the spotlight and his silence will no longer be tolerated. Unless he can come up with some good explanations, he and his kind might find themselves with three homes but no job.

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Filed under politics, Rip-off Britain, Sleaze, Society