When I want something to laugh at, I often find myself reading the blog tory MP Nadine Dorries. With her repeated evocations of ‘common sense’ she comes across as a thick version of William Hague (late 1990s version). Particularly entertaining, however, has been her response to the questions put to her over her expenses.
A few days ago, the Telegraph put a series of questions/allegations to her. In her wisdom she decided to do the opposite of contrite. She posted the letter she had been sent on her blog, along with a super confident, super angry, im-not-conceding-anything reponse. Her post was peppered with irritated sentences written in capital letters (think 14 year old on an online gaming forum), although looking at the blog right now it would appear that someone has given her a bit of good advice and she has switched the caps to lower case.
Yet when comes to her claims, the picture is not as pretty as Nadine’s assertive self-righteousness would suggest. Dorries currently claims a second homes allowance for a property in Bedfordshire – where she a constituency MP. The people at the telegraph, however, wisehed to determine where exactly she considered here ‘main’ home to be.
Her response was as follows:
“I have no intention of exposing every detail of my private existence, what little I have, on this blog. However, needs must. I rent a house/office/ surgery in my constituency… On the weekends I have free, and during the recess, I go somewhere else. I am not publishing the address.”
This, of course was in spite of assurances in the Telegraph’s letter that they would NOT publish her address. She couldn’t say where her second home was because this was a matter of privacy.
By Saturday, she continued to claim that she had been reluctant to discuss the location of her second home for reasons of ‘privacy’, but nonetheless felt compelled to now disclose that it was in the Cotswolds. This particularly detail was submerged in alot of irrelevant schmultzy tripe about what she does/did there:
‘The rest of the time during weekends I finished work and spent my time in the Cotswolds preparing the week’s meals for my daughter, washing and ironing school uniforms, changing sheets, checking homework, and leaving to drive back to Bedfordshire’
Nonetheless, the issue here is clear. I would have thought the reason for MPs to have to homes is fairly obvious. They need to work and vote in westminster and they also need to have a base in their constituency. Of course the Cotswolds is in neither Loolndon or Bedfordshire. The justification for two homes, as far as I can tell – is that she likes to live in one place, but needs to work in another. So would many of us.
Her failure to locate her her homes in her place of work is not without expense (to the taxpayer). As David Reeves notes over at Liberal Conspiracy she has claimed thousands and thousands for commuting from Bedfordshire to London – and some of this travel would surely be unnecessary if, like most MPs, the location of her MAIN home bore some relation to where she was expected to work. It would seem obvious to any reasonable person why Dorries was coy about locations of her homes. But she continues to insist that it was about protecting her own privacy and that of her lovely daughters.
I would not, however, simply suggest this is a question of greed. Having read quite a number of her posts, and those specifically concerning expenses, I honestly wonder if she is not perhaps too thick to get what the issue is.
One of the questions The Telegraph put to her was as follows:
‘When you moved out of your flat in Westminster, the fees office demanded repeatedly that you repay the £2,190 deposit but you did not and eventually they docked your rent claims in order to recoup the money. Please explain why you did not repay the deposit when asked.”
She responded by explaining that the Landlord was ‘dodgy’ and didn’t give back the deposit even though the flat was in pristine condition. She goes on to say that she gave up on trying to get the deposit back and that the the fees office ‘should have chased the landlord for it.’
This is all well and good, but what on earth does she think hundreds of thousands of other people do when they are faced with dodgy landlords who wont return deposits. The idea that, if she cant (be bothered to) win back her deposit, its up to the taxpayer to make up the shortfall, and the civil servants in the fees office to chase up whoever her landlord was, is obscene. Yet it is something she confidently and self-righteously proclaims.