Expenses Scandal: Jail These Corrupt Ministers

The government hammers those most affected by the poverty and misery of Gordon Brown’s Britain with hypocrisy and draconian laws. Every week people are jailed for not paying their council tax or are dragged in front of the courts for not paying their TV licence.

It is a cliché to say that there is one law for the rich and another for the rest of us. But as it turns out there is no law for the politicians – except the rules they set for themselves.

If you are a government minister you can avoid tax, double claim expenses, have your council tax paid for you and even get the bill for a council tax summons paid for by us.

The easiest way to see the depth of the corruption, and it is corruption, is by looking at the New Labour cabinet.

It is not enough to have a parliamentary review, or even an election. New Labour demand that people play by the rules. They say that those who have broken the law should be arrested and thrown in jail. But surely that should apply to government ministers, not to people who can’t afford to pay their bills.

A cabinet minister gets over £140,000 in wages, a junior minister more than £94,000. But this simply isn’t enough for these people.

Take cabinet couple Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper. They nominated three different properties in two years to be their main residence. We paid for their million pound property portfolio plus a few of the usual “accidental” double claims.

We also pay £600 every month for their food bills. Bear in mind they have a combined household income of some £300,000 from the taxpayer – yet they have us pay for their Waitrose luxuries.


Jack Straw, the justice secretary, admitted that he had over-claimed for both his council tax and mortgage bills.

Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, claimed thousands of pounds to improve his constituency home after he had announced his resignation as an MP. He sold the property for a profit of £136,000.

Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, claimed for three different properties in a single year. She spent almost £5,000 on furniture in three months after buying the third flat in an upmarket area of London. She avoided £13,000 in capital gains tax on the scam. She has now said she will pay it back, which makes it all OK apparently.

David Miliband, the foreign secretary, spent hundreds of pounds on gardening at his constituency home – leading his gardener to question whether it was necessary to spend money on pot plants “given [the] relatively short time you’ll be here”.

Chancellor Alistair Darling changed his officially designated second home four times in four years. He claimed around £10,000 towards buying a new London flat and thousands more for his family home in Edinburgh.

Geoff Hoon, the transport secretary, also switched his second home, which allowed him to improve his family home in Derbyshire extensively before buying a London town house also funded by us.

Work and pensions secretary James Purnell managed to avoid thousands in capital gains tax after changing which of his houses was his second home.

And while unemployment rockets, Tony McNulty, the employment minister, made £60,000 worth of claims for his second home.

New Labour’s home secretary Jacqui Smith has claimed £782,000 in expenses since becoming an MP in 1997.

Andy Burnham, the culture secretary, made a single expenses claim for more than £16,500 to renovate a new London flat.

Paul Murphy, the Welsh secretary, had a new plumbing system installed at taxpayers’ expense because the water in the old one was “too hot”.

Shaun Woodward, the wealthiest cabinet member, has received £100,000 since 2001 to help pay the mortgage interest on a £1.35 million flat.

And there are others of course. There are Tories and Liberals and backbench MPs on the same scams.

But the major hypocrisy is at the top of the government, where people have been committing the type of scams that they denounce in ordinary people.

Some in the establishment argue that the crisis will breed cynicism in politics. It is not the crisis that breeds cynicism – it is the politicians wedded to a system based on theft and corruption that is creating fury.

The anger over this theft needs to find expression. For a start every trade unionist should ask why their union would give money to any MP who is grabbing our cash from expenses.

Furthermore, every one of the MPs should face protests and public derision. And the expenses scandal should be a spark for all of us to tackle this government of crooks over their daily attacks on ordinary people.

The following should be read alongside this article:
» Hazel Blears: no ifs no buts graphic
» Corruption goes right to the heart of the system
» The Tories: ‘We needed the cash to deal with dangerous trees’
» Lord ‘felt like Guantanamo inmate’
» House of Commons Speaker resigns – who’s next?

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.


4 thoughts on “Expenses Scandal: Jail These Corrupt Ministers

  1. Don’t you feel it’s turning into a bit of a neverending witch hunt though?

    Justice must be done and consequences must be faced but it cannot be good for the state of our country for the sensationalising to continue so long.

    • The newspapers may sensationalise things but there is an easy way to avoid that – stop reading them. Do not downplay recent events and revelations – this is not just a serious breach of trust. We are talking about the cash that is skimmed off the top of hard worker’s backs. People who have nothing and scrimp and save each month for a better life and the money that they begrudginly pay in tax then being used by politicians, who already have very good quality of life, to pay for luxuries that you or I could not even dream of and worse still fraudently claiming for items that did not exist!

      What worries me most is people like you Nathan who want it all swept under the carpet and keep saying “Oh when will people just stop going on about it!”. This is not one of those stories that deserves to be buried after two weeks, this is the kind of thing that can make people wake up to the lies and say enough is enough. And believe me enough is enough. It is time for radical change and that doesnt mean a change of speaker. It means a complete overthrow of parliament and a new democracy being introduced from below. A real democracy. Not the false democracy that comes with corporations and financial institutions, but a real democracy of and for the people. What we have in this country is a fictitious democracy built to protect the rich and to impoverish the poor everyday of their lives and keep them trapped in a system that takes advantage of them every single day.

      It is times like these when the curtain lifts up and the people, see the truth for what is. Of course the powers that be will try to pull the curtain back into place and say “no, no, no it is ok. you didnt see nothing. normal service can now resume” but it is the job of the wise and witnesses who know what they saw, to keep the battle for change and retribution going. To tell the people to trust their eyes and not to forgive but to say enough is enough. Time for absolute change.

  2. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we should forget about it. Those who broke the law must face the consequences and those who kept within the law but were still immoral should lose their jobs.

    And I agree the whole system needs to be changed…but how? I have no clue about politics really and wouldn’t know where to start. I would want nothing more than a democracy that champions the poor. Different parties make the right noises at different times but I doubt much will change whoever is in power.

    How would you suggest this change is instigated?

  3. Through Socialist revolution.

    Socialism is the only way out of this mess that capitalism has got us into. A system that puts people first not individuals and greed.

    Read more about socialism. I know you say you know nothing about politics. Well dump any concepts that have entered your head about this subject and read up what socialism really represents. When you do read up see how closely it chimes with the type of democracy you say you would like to see. Be open to learning more and you may be surprised.

    For example the Labour party used to be a socialist party. Though you would not believe it now the roots of the party lay in the working classes and many of the concepts and great British developments such as the NHS and benefits for unemployed and to help poor people were all born through Labours socialist values.

    People need to realise that the choices we are being offered up as change are not change at all. In fact, there is little or no difference between all the parties in parliament. These parties all represent the same interests and that is the corporations and financial institutions. Benefits for the weak arise only as a byproduct, not an intention, and rarely at that.

    The expenses scandal is what we should expect in a capitalist society. Is it really such a surprise? This is what capitalism is all about after all – GREED and THE INDIVIDUAL. We should expect nothing less from capitalist politicians in a capitalist society. That is why I am saying it is time to kill capitalism dead and for people, from the working classes upwards to introduce a new socialist democracy, of and for the people, for one an all.

    See the following posts:

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