In a week where the MP expenses scandal has unravelled faster than a ball of string in the paws of a kitten, it’s time to recap some of the highlights.
Best resignation speech:
The Guardian applauds outgoing House of Commons Speaker Michael Martin on the rare brevity of his resignation speech, which came in at just 34 seconds. Apparently, the Gettysburg Address was a “rant” by comparison. Right, yes, but a slightly different historical moment…
Worst resignation speech / performance in humble pie eating contest:
Bucking the trend for penitence so popular among British parliamentarians this week, Sir Anthony Steen told Radio 4’s The World at One his constituents demanded his resignation out of jealousy for his “very, very large house.” In fact “some people say it looks like Balmoral.”
Sir Anthony went on to blame the “wretched government here which has completely mucked up the system” for the demise of his political career and that of his friends — specifically citing the introduction of the Freedom of Information Act which led to “the things which caught me on the wrong foot, which if I’d been cleverer it wouldn’t have done.”
Best use of inappropriate funds:
This one comes from Crikey reader Gavin:
I’ve been in Pommyland for the duration and have joined the locals in watching with fixed horror this story develop (unfold?). The latest amaaazement is some Tory grandee who got reimbursed £1,645 for a duck house. Apparently this is a sort of kennel 1.5 metres high floating on the estate lake out of foxes and other harm’s way.
See The Telegraph‘s pic of Sir Peter Viggers and his floating duck island:
Incidentally, The Guardian recently reported that the University of Oxford got £300,000 to research ducks’ preference for water. They gave ducks access to a pond, water trough and shower. “They discovered that the ducks spent an awful lot of time under the shower, sometimes just standing there, others drinking from it.’ So p’raps the next duck house comes with a duck shower.
Dullest reason to get caught out:
Conservative Peter Luff is the latest MP to make it into the headlines — for claiming three toilet seats, three food mixers, two microwaves, four beds, five tables, two ironing boards, three kettles and 10 sets of manchester.
Best idea for reform:
Everyone knows reform must follow but there is plenty of debate about the form it should take. Today’s Guardian editorial, musing on reform, identifies the rare chance on offer: “These are exceptional times. And this is an exceptional opportunity.” If Gordon Brown needs inspiration he should look to The Guardian’s open thread forum where readers are pitching their own reform ideas, although the first one does mention Guy Fawkes.