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Blues in Maude’s flat

May 13th, 2009 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · No Comments · Politics

I know I was supposed to have given up using song titles as titles for posts, but really…  that one is just too good to not use.   It is just far too suitable when looking at the news of Francis Maude’s hasty re-arrangement of his finances, as reported on the West Sussex County Times website.This is certainly good news, and David Cameron is to be congratulated.  The gist is that Francis Maude will not make further expense claims for his third house, will not pocket any capital gains when it is sold, and will publish all his expenses online as soon as he claims them.

Of course the story makes it sound like all this is his own idea, rather than something forced on him by his boss.  He is still sticking to his claims that everything was within the rules (which nobody has ever disputed) .  Very wisely, he does not repeat his line about being “good value”, but he does repeat his assertion that all his claims were also within the spirit of the rules, and that is where most people seem to disagree.

The question is, if he is so certain that his claims were not only legal but also within the spirit of the rules why is he going to stop making them?    Either they are perfectly OK (there is a legitimate, unavoidable expense, incurred solely in the course of parliamentary duties which puts him out of pocket just for doing his job – which would be wrong) in which case he should keep claiming them, or they are not OK and he should repay what he has already claimed.  This gesture is neither one thing nor the other.

Giving up any capital gain is good though, on the face of it.  Mind you, it is an easy promise to make in a deperssed housing market.   If the market picks up, expect a quick sale with the proceeds going to another place on which he will be able to benefit from any appreciation of value.

The issues of why there is such a large claim for travel (enough to get to London and back every working day) when he apparently stays up in London, and whether this publicly funded house supports his non-parliamentary business are not addressed, and seem to not be the subjects of any investigations – but the WSCT do not delve into any of this, despite their oft-repeated claims to be impartial.

They are happy to allow the Maude interpretation to stand: that he ‘inadvertantly’ contributed to the damaged reputatin of politics, while doing nothing at all wrong, and has magnanimously decided to make a personal sacrifice to atone for the sins of others.  No suggestion that he was told to do this, or else.

But let’s not dwell on the negatives: this is a good start, and maybe it means we can move onto things of more significance from now on.

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