It's not often I agree so strongly with Simon Heffer but his column in the Telegraph today is pretty close to what I think about how some of the political class in this country behaves, with particular reference to Jacqui Smith.
Amongst others, he makes the following point:
"We know Miss Smith's game. She will struggle to hold her seat at the next election, as Labour will struggle to hold the country. Faced not just with the loss of a ministerial salary but also an MP's one (with all its juicy expenses), and with life in the House of Lords perhaps no longer a gravy train, it makes sense to coin it in while you can. This includes having her husband on her payroll, too. If lean times hit the Smith household, there should be a bit of fat to live off while the Job Centre does its work."
I am sorry to say that I think he is spot on here. I did not mention it in my previous post about lodgergate (as nobody else seems to be calling it!) but I did wonder if her behaviour could at least in part be explained by the fact that she has very little to lose because she will likely be out of parliament at the next election.
Irrespective of all of this, I find it shocking that the parliamentary standards commisioner can have dismissed the case against Smith so lightly. He claims that there is not enough evidence against her. So the only conclusion I can draw from this is that if with such an obvious case of manipulating the system to claim that kipping in a spare room round at your sisters (when your husband, children and most of your personal effects are in a house 100 miles away where you appear to spend the majority of your nights, your own website refers to you "still living in Redditch" and your own spokesman in an attempted defence referred to your Redditch house as your "home") can be claimed as your primary residence then the system is very, very broken. I am very saddened that more of a fuss has not been made of this by the media and other politicians.
Guido has been making a lot of running on this story (hattip to him for the Smith website bit above) and has written to the commissioner himself about this. I fully support his attempts to question this situation and keep the media's eye on it.
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