One thing that stands out about the MPs’ expenses scandal: the sheer naffness of many of the claims.
OK, we always knew it was going to be more brutal with Tory MPs than Labourscum; they’re richer to start with. (“What right does the public have to interfere with my private life?” Well, quite a lot if you’ve been maintaining it at public expense, buddy.) But disregarding relative wealth, the thing that unites many of the outrageous claims is just how tasteless the dodgy items are.
OK, Jacqui Smith’s husband’s taxpayer-funded porn films were a bit of a laugh; not just the fact this ‘model couple’ enjoy a bit of video action in the evenings, but actually putting it on their expenses… while champagne socialists Balls and Cooper have been popping the corks with over £150K a year (each!) in expenses, additional to their ministerial salaries totalling £300K. (Now that’s New Labour thinking for you.) The £4K on taxis for their kids’ school run is pretty naff, too.
But sometimes the naffness goes to a different level entirely. Before this week, I had no idea whatsoever what a ‘duck island‘ was; now I’ve seen one. This product inhabits a zone of naffness quite beyond any I’ve ever imagined. I mean, this goes beyond Posh & Becks, beyond Jordan & Peter, beyond even Paris Hilton. A floating doll’s house for the use of neighbourhood quackers? I mean, come on.
And elsewhere? There’s a plethora of claims for the naffest home furnishings imaginable: the halls of Westminster are packed with owners of 70s and 80s style errors like Laura Ashley sofas and reproduction Chesterfields. Shingled driveways abound in constituency homes; mock-Tudor windows and neo-Georgian picture frames are listed as plainly as the ‘second homes’ they inhabit. A ‘chocolate-covered sofa bed’ (perhaps the MP meant ‘chocolate-coloured’, otherwise there’s a whole story untold here.)
And this, is, perhaps, the root problem with our MPs. It’s the ‘yob’ mentality that started with Blair and has been a driver of Labourites since the 1940s. A hatred of decent design or integrity of materials, replaced by a love of faddish fashions and tweeness. No taste.