A blog post by Evening Standard journalist Paul Waugh caught my eye, in which Brian Coleman, Conservative Assembly member for Barnet and Camden allegedly refuses to publish his expenses.
Much as I would want to avoid disagreeing with a fellow Conservative, some of his comments are astounding. For a start the assertion that “Politicians with lower expenses tend to be the politicians who do least work. Those with higher expenses are the ones who do most work” is just plain wrong. Expense claims have nothing to do with work-rate, as a politician (lite) with no expenses I’m offended.
But the most telling comment of all is his belief that he shouldn’t have to hand over the details because “it’s none of the public’s business. They have coped well without knowing this kind of detail for more that 75 years. They are not entitled to drool over our personal lives.”
Perhaps we have managed without knowing before. And no, we aren’t entitled to drool over your personal life. But we are entitled to know how public money is being spent – and that’s what you are doing with your expenses.
No Conservative can believe they have the right to spend public money without public scrutiny. I don’t know what Brian Coleman’s expense claims are like, but I hope he comes to his senses and realises that we tax-payers have a right to know how our money is spent.
good post and shows why party politics is only useful as a tool for governance. How on earth can you expect to agree with all Tories? I can hardly agree with my own girlfriend half the time let alone god knows how many strangers I baulk at the idea of following a political party and voting for them every 4 years regardless of policy.
Why do local cllrs need to represent parties any way?
Brian ‘expenses’ Coleman is an embarrassment to the Conservative Party for precisely the reasons you point out. And in the light of David Cameron’s comments and speeches on the issue it seems stupid at best – and self-servingly disloyal at worst.
I can’t imagine many people drooling over Brian Coleman’s private life. Frankly that is an image it will take many hours of therapy to remove!
At the next election, remember ABC. Anyone But Coleman.
And no do I, but unless his expense claims get published, people will draw their own inferences. There will be an assumption that he has got ‘something to hide’ – irrespective of whether or not this is the case. He’s just made himself a target…
I find it difficult to believe that after the recent furore that any politician, of any party, can misjudge the public mood so spectacularly. After all, is it not the public who pay his salary?
This has clearly attracted a couple of Coleman-haters. But JackP is absolutely right, anyone involved in politics should know that perception, as much as reality, is as important. By not revealing his expenses he is inviting people to assume that there is something there.
And I would defend political parties in local government. Even where there are ‘independent’ councils groups tend to form with people who have shared views and visions for their area – in effect local political parties (which may or may not have parallels with the national parties). You need only look at the register of political parties to see how many ‘official’ local parties there are.
Some sort of organisation is needed to develop, articulate and deliver a vision for an area. If everyone voted independently on every issue, without some guiding vision, councils would be directionless and elections meaningless.