Sweep them all away!

THERE are no signs that the public anger with MPs is abating. Indeed I get the distinct impression that voters would like to see all 646 of them stand down so that the stables can be cleaned and no-one is allowed to serve in the next parliament who has been tainted by the liberal interpretation of the lax expenses regime.

Graham Dines

THERE are no signs that the public anger with MPs is abating. Indeed I get the distinct impression that voters would like to see all 646 of them stand down so that the stables can be cleaned and no-one is allowed to serve in the next parliament who has been tainted by the liberal interpretation of the lax expenses regime.

Whether it's buying expensive televisions from Harrods's, claiming for mortgages which have been paid off, cleaning moats, purchasing dog food, killing moles, or treating dry rot at your partner's property hundreds of miles away from the constituency, voters are utterly fed up that such excesses have been tolerated while they struggle through the recession.

Gordon Brown declares he is appalled by what has happened in the name of democracy. Why then is Hazel Blears - who has handed �13,000 to the taxman after flipping her first and second homes - still in the Cabinet?


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She should have been sent on her way to the backbenches and told she can't fight another election under the Labour banner. But no, she clings on and even though it looks as if she'll be removed in a ministerial reshuffle next month, the Prime Minister should have made her go once the Daily Telegraph exposed how much she had claimed.

How can Justice Secretary Jack Straw remain in his post after claiming 100% council tax on his second home, when his local council had given him a 50% reduction?

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Yesterday, two more Cabinet ministers were accused by The Daily Telegraph of avoiding capital gains tax on the sale of second homes. Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell and Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon did not pay capital gains tax (CGT) because the taxman considered their London properties to be their main homes.

Purnell was said to have saved thousands of pounds after informing parliamentary officials that his constituency property in Manchester was his main home while the tax authorities believed his London flat to be his “primary”' residence.

Hoon allegedly did not pay CGT on an estimated �300,000 profit from the sale of his London home in 2006 - house had been rented out while he lived in a grace-and-favour property.

Under HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) rules, sellers can claim a property is a main residence for capital gains tax purposes as long as they lived there less than three years before the sale.

Former cabinet minister Ruth Kelly is said to have claimed thousands of pounds for flood damage at her second home despite the building being insured.

In a few instances, the Prime Minister has taken action. Luton South MP Margaret Moran has been referred to a special Labour Party panel which will consider whether she should be deselected after claiming �22,500 to treat dry rot at a property in Southampton.

Former environment minister Elliot Morley fellow backbencher David Chaytor have both been suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party pending sleaze watchdog probes into claims against non-existent mortgage loan interest.

“Incredibly angry” Tory leader David Cameron yesterday forced MP Sir Peter Viggers to stand down at the next election after claiming �1,645 for a floating “duck island” for his pond.

Veteran Tory MP Anthony Steen claimed more than �80,000 from the taxpayer over four years for work at his �1 million Devon mansion. He was given a “go or be sacked” ultimatum.

Douglas Hogg - who in another guise is the third Viscount Hailsham - is standing down over his claim for cleaning his moat at his Lincolnshire home.

But Cameron has shown weakness in not forcing his former parliamentary bag carrier Andrew Mackay to quit. Mackay and his MP wife Julie Kirkbride claimed �283,000 for two second homes.

It's a sorry mess of power, greed, and in some instances fraud. With all political parties implicated, a large number of county councillors and Euro MPs will become victims of the voters' collective anger, with Labour losing the most seats as it lives with the unenviable tag of being the most unpopular government in opinion poll history.

NORWICH NORTH MP IN TROUBLE

Dr Ian Gibson is the latest Labour MP to run into trouble with the publication of his expense claims. He is thinking of quitting his Norwich North seat after The Daily Telegraph revealed that he had allowed his daughter Helen and her partner William Turner to live in his West London flat rent free, before selling it to them below the market value.

Gibson insists he has done nothing wrong. “It was my second home and I claimed for living there,” he told the Eastern Daily Press.

GLASGOW BARONS ECLIPSED AT LAST

THE one positive outcome of the scandal over MPs' expenses is that the vice like grip that the West Coast Scottish mafia has over the Labour Party has been blown up.

The king makers of Glasgow and its Lanarkshire hinterland resisted Tony Blair's “New Labour with a Tory face” and still ran a socialist oligarchy of tough trade union members, almost all of them being Roman Catholic, who would stop at nothing to get their man elected.

Clydeside politics have been exported to the east coast of the United States, and especially to Boston, Philadelphia and New York. The party machine is everything, and there's been no look-in for those of moderate Labour views, never mind political opponents.

Michael Martin came from this background. Behind his lilting voice was a man of true working class origins who knew what it was like to fight his way to the top.

Yet contrast the glittering, expense laden world of Westminster with the deprivation of inner city Glasgow. There could be no greater difference from between the haves and have nots, and after 12 years of Labour government, the gap between rich and poor has widened.

Speaker Michael Martin came to symbolise the arrogance of parliament. What has been going on is, quite frankly, unbelievable.

Despite what his supporters maintain, Martin, who became the first Speaker for more than 300 years to be removed from office, was not the victim of White Anglo Saxon Protestant public school snobbery. He was removed because he was not up to the job.

Martin has seemed partisan, failing to stand up for backbenchers against the crushing might of New Labour. Ironically, his downfall came about when he did defend ordinary MPs trying to keep their expenses claims secret.

But with Martin's exit, the Labour barons of Clydeside have suffered a major reverse. Last year, the SNP won a by-election from Labour in Glasgow. They are likely to triumph again when Martin gives up being an MP.

GREEN LUMLEY'S VICTORY

JOANNA Lumley yesterday extracted a promise from Gordon Brown on the future of Gurkha soldiers, just a few hours after she said she was supporting the Green Party in next month's elections for the European Parliament.

Lumley endorsed Dr Caroline Lucas, the lead candidates for the Greens in the South-East regional constituency.

“Caroline is a tireless campaigner in the European Parliament,” purred Lumley, “staunchly defending human rights and strongly promoting greater protection for animals.

“I urge you to cast a positive vote for a better future by voting Green in the European elections.”

Her decision dashes Liberal Democrat hopes that she would come out on their side. As for the Prime Minister, he had to put aside her support for the Greens when he told her at a Downing Street meeting to duscuss the rights of Gurkha veterans to settle in Britain that she had won the argument.

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