Not for a second have I defended the mortal sins on MPs expenses that been published in abundant detail. But they should have been made public in an orderly manner not to serve the Telegraph’s political agenda.
The practice of flipping the status of homes is dishonest and unjustified. So is the evasion of capital gains tax. But the Telegraph has deliberately used insinuation to nail blameless MPs. They now say Gordon Brown is not guilty, four days after smearing him with a headline story about his cleaner that implied improper conduct. The public has swallowed that myth as a poll today confirms.
The reputations of Paul Murphy and Kevin Brennan have been besmirched. The Sunday Telegraph devotes half a page in a McCarthyite sneer because Kevin had a television for his second home delivered to his first home. Of course, he did. I believe all MPs do the same.
All reasonably portable items for my London flat have been bought in Newport. They are usually better value and it certainly more convenient. My telly was bought in Newport and taken by me in my car to London. Taking deliveries in London would entail hanging around in our flats in London waiting for the van to turn up. Virtual all MPs are in the Commons from 9.00am until gone 10.00pm. There is nothing sinister whatsoever in having goods delivered to our main addresses. Yet that is the ONLY nit-picking point that the Telegraph has discovered after trawling through several hundred pages of Kevin’s claims and receipts.
Would any Telegraph reporter emerge so squeaky clean after a similar probe of their claims? This is not to justify the alleged conduct of Tony McNulty, Margaret Moran, Jacqui Smith, Geoff Hoon or the Tories whose details may be published tonight. The explanation by Margaret Moran today was not convincing.
The public mood is now so inflamed that news that any MP has claimed anything for any reason is hailed as a scandal. No one now questions the need for root and branch reforms. But justified outrage should not deteriorate into a hysterical witch-hunt of the innocent.
Finest Folk Fest
It was warm glorious spring day at the Tredegar House Folk Festival this afternoon. It was a wonderful success. The best ever. Most popular group were Lubana from Latvia. It was marvellous meeting the top-hatted dancers from a country that is similar to Wales. I have had the satisfaction of watching the emergence of this nation into new independance. I was there in in 1989 with David Owen, in 1990 with Quentin Davies and on twother parliamentary delegations. Forget any ideas of junkets. Think of icy winter, Red Army threatening thugs and brave Latvians facing them down.
Pictured below are some of the day's great hits. They include the Cwmni Gwerin Pont-y-pwl ,
Newport based India Dance Wales and the O’Donell Irish Dancers.