Monday, March 30, 2009

Jacqui Smith's Expenses

The porn films watched by her husband may only amount to £10 worth of extra expenses, but this is in addition to a few other movies which the Home Secretary 'mistakenly' claimed for, to say nothing of the second home allowance that she claims for her actual home in Redditch. There is more than the whiff of sleaze hanging over the lady; more than the whiff of a public servant ransacking the public purse for all she's worth while she can.

And while the Opposition stays rather quiet - they're worried about their own MPs' expenses after all - David Davis has about got it right when he says there would be less strident calls for her to go if she were actually any good at her job. As remarked here previously, she is a dismally underwhelming performer in one of the top offices of state, over-promoted and incapable. But then, I guess if she'd been any good, she'd have had the wit to avoid her present controversy wouldn't she?

UPDATE: I see that the BBC's Nick Robinson has made a couple of interesting points about the Smith case on his blog. First, he comments that she has been has been "poring over her home, constituency and office diary to plot where she had spent each night in the past year." Which must be quite a considerable task, taking her away from the minutiae of running the Home Office - one not so happy impact of this whole affair on the conduct of public affairs. Second, he outlines the gap between the political and non-political worlds:

"To many MPs, she's a likeable working mum who didn't expect to be elected in '97; whose husband agreed to sacrifice his career to make hers possible; who works such long hours that she spends more days away from her family than with it and who knows that she's on course to lose her very marginal seat and thus, her job, income and allowances, at the next election.

To many voters she's a minister "on the take" who is not satisfied with a fat salary, a chauffeur and two homes but also claims more by employing her husband, calling her family home her second home and submitting bills for porn films."

Now this is a salutary point. Robinson is in a position rather different from most of the rest of us, where his regular contact with politicians allows him the opportunity to understand their 'human' side, and provide a more balanced picture of their actions. He rightly says that it is in all of our interests to close the gap between public and private perceptions of the political world. But who is repsonsible, at least in part, for the gap in the first place? So much of that public perception is down to the way MPs are reported in the media. If journalists have the opportunity to understand the nuances of political existence, would it be too much to expect them to do their job and convey that through their writing? Or are they enjoying Stanley Baldwin's famous "prerogative of the whore" too much? There are many lessons coming out of the Jacqui Smith affair - not all of them for MPs alone.

8 comments:

Comrade Major said...

What's worse is the fact that the Home Secretary is perhaps the most ungrateful job of the lot. The Home Department is so huge that it, like the Department of Transport, needs at least 3 or 4 years to get used to. And most ministers have moved on by then. Which explains why our Home Office is so rubbish.

toronto condos said...

When I started reading your article, I feared it would be the same rubbish I've seen before. But finally I found one that talk not about the "scandal" itself, but brings about some information about her job performance.

"I guess if she'd been any good, she'd have had the wit to avoid her present controversy wouldn't she?" Exactly my thoughts. If the lady is any good (or have any good public relation team), they shouldn't have such a problem overcoming this faux pas...

Take care,
Elli

bleeding heart liberal said...

Jacqui Smith quite honestly has no place in government, let alone being left in charge of one of the 4 great offices of state. Whether she is losing information, wearing a bullet proof vest on the way to the shops or sponging our money, all she seems to do is embarass the government and herself. However she does not have the political weight, ability or charisma to shrug off these calamities.

Even when she gets hold of statistics that actually show she might have blundered to a success, like the ones on knife crime in December, the home office still release them in such a way that they are accused of "misleading" the public. The Tories are on the verge of executing the government at the next election and Jacqui Smith just seems to be helping to prepare her own noose.

Gordon Brown would do well to turf her out of the cabinet at the next reshuffle in the hope that he can find a Home Secretary, who is slightly less dedicated to unseating his government than Mrs Smith.

Comrade Major said...

This shows that Jacqui Smith and her husband are actually real people. We cannot expect our politicians to be all perfect and squeaky clean as Mr. Cameron may attempt (and spectacularly fail, since its the Tories) to get rid of such occurrences. And the fact that she is a real person means she would naturally be fallible and therefore a real person.

I prefer real people ruling me than media-obsessed politicians, seen and heard only through PR and caring only about their own survival.

Anonymous said...

"too" is spelt wrong

bleeding heart liberal said...

Why does it matter whether she is a real person or not? If she is a liability to the government, she shouldn't be in the job. Simple as....

Comrade Major said...

For a liberal, you sound a lot like a KGB operative...

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