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Miliband “apparently taking voters for granted”

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Journal blogger in accusation

Interesting to read William Green in The Journal yesterday where he almost went as far as accusing South Shields MP and (for now) Foreign Secretary David Miliband of arrogance.

David Miliband is sailing close to the wind. He has just given the most extraordinary response to my questions about whether he will win his South Shields again amid controversy over his own expenses.

He came very close, if not over the line, to apparently taking voters for granted.

“I believe that South Shields has a fine record in never voting for a Conservative MP and returning Labour MPs since 1906.

And it is up to the people of South Shields to decide who they elect, but I will certainly be putting myself forward in South Shields and I look forward to representing them for many years to come,” he said.

It’s as though the banana wielding policy wonk does not even recognise that there will be a host of other candidates standing against him at the general election, and even singling out the fact the town has never had a Tory MP pays a disservice to representatives of the other parties who will fancy their chances against him, and by looking forward to serving again at this early stage shows no recognition at all at the level of anger and disgust at the current crop of MPs with their arrogant and free loading expenses policies. Let’s not forget that Miliband has already claimed £130000 last year, and over the previous five years spent £30,000 on repairs, decoration and furnishings for his £120,000 home in South Shields.

On at least one occasion, he exceeded the maximum allowable amount and had his claim cut back. Mr Miliband, the current Foreign Secretary, spent up to £180 every three months on his garden, prompting his own gardener at one point to ask whether all the work was required.

n April 2008, on the bottom of a receipt for £132.96, the gardener wrote: “Please let me know if you would like pots making up at front and back this year, given the relatively short time you’ll be here and their labour-intensive nature.”

Under the rules, MPs may claim for basic garden maintenance, but not: “plants, shrubs, flowers, hanging baskets or other decorations”.

In 2005, Mr Miliband fell foul of rules which prohibit MPs from claiming any costs relating to their children. His application for reimbursement for a £199 pram and £80 in “baby essentials” were both rejected.

n another breach of the guidelines, Mr Miliband regularly claimed about £89 for undisclosed “household items”. In 2006, the then-environment secretary was told that he needed to provide details of his claims, and that part of his payment would be held back until he did. He wrote back withdrawing the claims, saying: “I am afraid I have not been able to lay my hands on the receipts for the items so we had better leave the payment as you have made it. I will keep a closer guard of the receipts in future.” Mr Miliband failed to resubmit his claim, even when the fees office wrote back advising that he did not need to provide receipts, but just to supply details of the items. He was not asked to repay his previous claims over several months, or provide information about the items that he had bought at taxpayers’ expense.

During the five years covered by the receipts, Mr Miliband successfully claimed for a £412 hand-crafted chair, a goose-down duvet and chenille throw from Marks & Spencer, a £450 “Gatsby” John Lewis sofa, and a washing machine and tumble dryer, some of which were ordered in the name of his American wife, Louise, a concert violinist.

The couple also ordered frequent redecoration and repairs, including a £9,000 kitchen in 2005, as well as garage doors, insulation, tiling and a new garage roof. In July 2006, Mr Miliband wrote for permission to carry out re-pointing on his brick work, saying that corrosion was a common problem for houses from the “inter-war” era.

Mr Miliband, who claimed between £100 and £200 a month on food, also claimed almost £6,000 for repairs to the front drive and boundary wall — justifying the expense by sending a number of photographs along with their quote to the fees office.

I guess he is hoping that we’ll forget all about this when the general election comes along, or perhaps he might be hoping that he’ll be leading the Labour Party into that election, who knows? If he did, I suppose he’ll definitely be thinking that we’ll forget his part in the expenses fiasco.

Wrong, some of us will keep reminding the others. How very dare he take us for granted?

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Written by curly

June 3, 2009 at 9:45 am

2 Responses

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  1. […] Curly explains why David Miliband is a […]

  2. It’s clearly stated within the expense rules that MPs can claim for expenses incurred doing their job. If Mr Miliband thinks tending his garden is fundamental to his Parliamentary duties for South Shields, I think he’s got it severely wrong.
    His frequent boast ‘South Shields is the only constituency never to have been Conservative’ while at the same time taunting the electorate with bills for a reconditioned antique armchair, a child’s pushchair, as well as his gardening, is taking South Shields for granted. It’s about time the town had a local MP who properly understands and cares about the North East.

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