So, expenses: Tories vs Labour, who wins?!
What struck me the whole way through the expenses claims scandal is that its actually rather unfair that this is coming down on Gordon Brown, a Labour politician. I think this bares worth a little explaining and underlining. Expenses have been abused by both sides, but what of the actual trends in abuse?
Lets think of the kinds of things that Labour MP’s have claimed for when they shouldn’t. Most of it involves redecorating as far as I can see. Everyone needs wallpaper, its just they should have paid for it themselves and not on expenses.
This isn’t to let them off the hook, but actually, most of the abuses are quite reasonable spends. None of us would disagree that a house needs redecorating once in a while; you should see the improvement it made to my parent’s hall way to be repainted after 3 years. Its mostly run-of-the-mill house repairs and flipping of second homes to get the most money. Looking through the list, there are occasional flashes of opulence, but in the main, these are things people should have paid out of their own earnings.
Now, lets ask the same of the Tories. Duck ponds, cleaning the moat, other gardening expenses which seem to redefine a Kingdom as a Garden. Servants and maids. So much of what the Tories claim seems to be overtly a way of displaying wealth, of keeping up with the Jones’s in Big Business with whom they seem to be even more chummy than Labour appears.
The Labour list leaves me asking “What counts as an expense?”, the Tory list leaves me wondering “What counts as a reasonable use of money?”. As someone who is very much behind the aspiration to simple living, the Tory expenses revolt me more by some way. That’s not an attempt to claim I’m doing well on simple living, by the way, I still spend money on things I really don’t need and have things I should really prioritise instead that I’ve put off buying as a result of overspends.
But I think the question might be better asked: which of these expenses claims could be construed as “sustainable”? I think it would be a much more valuable debate than the current mud-slinging that is going on. Any thoughts, please send them via the comments below.