diamond geezer

 Saturday, June 20, 2009

Gallowatch: Even though the expenses scandal has been going on for weeks, thus far my MP appears to have escaped the worst of it. Surely the Right Honourable George Galloway, member for Bethnal Green and Bow, must have a few dodgy skeletons in his financial closet. Could reporters at the Telegraph possibly have missed something during their six week scrutiny? Can citizen journalism bring down the career of Gorgeous George? Or is this smooth operator clean as a whistle? I thought I'd find out.

It's long been possible to track GG's Parliamentary attendance record. From this we discover that George has only spoken in three Westminster debates this year, and only bothered to turn up and vote four times. More wasteful of time than of money, it would seem. And now it's possible to uncover similarly detailed information about his reimbursed costs. All of George's Incidental Expenses have been published and are in the public domain (admittedly with big black bits crossed out), so I've had a delve to see what I could find.

Ohmigod, George is a secret stationery fetishist. Two packs of gel pens at £12.27 each. A black stapler at £3.56. Two pairs of 54p scissors. Seventy-five quid's worth of black, blue and red rollerballs. Two packs of glossy photocopier paper, at £8 a time. Ten wirebound A5 jotta pads, totalling £18.20. A Scotch Magic Tape Strip refill, or two, at £1.46 each. This man seems to have a hotline to Banner Office Supplies.

And he loves buying computer equipment. An £1199 computer in February 2007. An £1199 laptop in December 2007. Various Dell printer cartridges for £365 + VAT in July 2006. A hundred quid keyboard in April 2006. But nothing scandalous.

And he bought a fanheater for £16.99, because February 2006 was chilly.

And he travels in taxis. Various taxi receipts for about £12 each. All of nine times in two years, if I read the archives properly.

And he buys mystery things that cost £66.37, only I have absolutely no idea what they are because everything relevant has been ██████ out. Imagine what criminally wasteful overspend this might be. Or most probably not.

And he spends pays someone to maintain his website. £1575 to create it, then 12 hours a week at £30 an hour thereafter to maintain and update it. Ten thousand quid in six months. That's rather a lot, by the sound of it, given what a not-terribly dynamic website it is. As a constituent, I wouldn't say he's using his communication allowance terribly effectively.

But, all things considered, George's history of backdated claims is distinctly underwhelming. And I for one am appalled. How dare my MP spend so little! When everyone else in the Commons is haemorrhaging public money left, right and centre, how dare my East End representative be so restrained. Why aren't we feeling the ripple effect of Parliamentary wastage here in Bethnal Green and Bow? If only my MP represented his constituents more diligently, surely he'd be able to extort considerably more cash from the Westminster gravy train. But he hasn't. George's financial timidity is a reflection of his political inactivity, and this makes me very angry indeed. MP's expenses - it's a scandal alright.

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