Crime and punishment, parliamentary style

MP Derek Conway fraudulently pays his son £40000 of taxpayers money. When it’s found out, he gets suspended for a few days (fairy nuff), and told to repay £13000. A clear message: if you’re an MP, fraud pays, even if you get caught.

I wonder how many other Honourable Members are thinking “there but for the grace of …“. Or why else would he get to keep 70% of his plunder?  Kind-of a plea bargain: admit to just enough to avoid a process noone wants to go through?

It looks a much simpler case than the government’s current funding troubles. The govt. is author of it’s own misfortunes (they made the rules they keep getting caught breaking), but I don’t understand the purpose of those rules sufficiently to comment[1]. Thus Conway’s abuse seems much more clear-cut. On the other hand, it’s a throwback to pre-Blair times, when sleaze came from individual MPs, not from the heart of government. That makes it less important.

[1] My suspicion is that the legislation was directed at big funding sources for other parties. That’s happened before, too.

Posted on January 29, 2008, in politics, uk. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Why don’t they call in the police? Conway has clearly defrauded the taxpayer. But then, I suppose they’re closing ranks to protect their own as usual.

    So next time we read of some hard-up loser from the wrong side of town being sent down for fiddling a few quid from the benefit system, we must remember that here in 21st century Britain it’s still one law for the peasants and another for the ruling classes.

  2. Seems it is being referred to the police, FWIW. And I’m wondering if blogosphere reaction like this might’ve helped Cameron’s decision to give him the boot?

    As for those hard-up losers .. I lack sympathy with them, too. Those who succeed in playing the system are rarely if ever those in genuine need. The ones who have my sympathy are those in the poverty trap: those whose income is just a little above benefit cutoff levels, who end up paying an effective marginal rate of tax of over 100% compared to claimants. For a disabled person with complex needs, that can still happen on well-above-average income!

  3. I certainly don’t condone people who defraud the benefit system and would agree with your comments about the poverty trap. Nevertheless it tends to be the chattering political classes like Conway who are the most vociferous in condemning such behaviour whilst failing utterly to recognise their own wrongdoing. It’s the double standards that I detest.

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