Years and years ago when the Roman Legions were marching around the known world enslaving everybody their commanding officers had a little trick to make sure the common legionnaire worked his heart out to the best of his ability. If a battle hadn't gone to plan or even something small like a days march had fallen below standard, 17 miles instead of 20 the boss man would walk up and down the assembled ranks and purely at random would point at some poor sod and say," You" then same again an other couple of times for good measure. Then these three luckless chaps would be taken away and crucified. By crucified I mean the full monty, the wooden cross, the nails, the hanging around for a couple of days waiting to die while the rest of the legion stood around and thought, "There but for the grace of God go I.". A scapegoat for the legions lack of effort. Thank God it's not the good old days anymore.
Which brings me to the poor ex MP who has just been crucified. True, no nails and cross but Wandsworth Prison could be pretty close. Now I am not saying thatDavid Chaytor didn't deserve to end up in court for swindling all us tax payers out of over twenty thousand quid. He did go to the trouble of forging documents to get housing benefits he wasn't entitled to but what about all the other MPs who made claims for expenses that would have had even the most hardened con man open mouthed at their outrageousness. Duck House
Man and one of our local MPs who had thousands of pounds worth of gardening to his house in Totnes done at our expense. He even said people were just jealous because he had a big house. There were many more such claims that had us all wanting blood last summer. There were in all over 500 MP had to pay money back once the dust had settled. Now many of them were genuine mistakes. Take my own MP. He had to pay money back but in his case it was an obscure rule that anyone could have missed. He claimed 3 months rent on his flat in London and paid his landlord the rent. Then Parliament was dissolved and a general election called so Adrian headed back to Torquay to try and get reflected (he was) but what he didn't realise was that he was wasn't an MP for the 3 weeks between disillusion and election and therefore no long able to claim for any expenses. The people in the office that deals with expenses thought this fact so trivial they didn't bother to tell him and he was as suppressed as the next person when he was finally asked for the money back. No forging of documents there so no need to even think of poor Adrian ending up in court. But what about some of the other claims that someone as clever as you would expect an MP to realise was not exactly a kosher claim like flipping houses and the married couple, he claimed rent on the house they lived in at the weekend and she claimed rent on the flat they both lived in during the week and £2500 for an electric toaster. Actually I think that was a flat screen plasma TV not a toaster. But so many MPs claims were out of order so why so few, 3, of them in court? Could it be that had they all have been dragged through the courts the justice system in this country would have dragged to a halt and a new prison would have had to have been built to accommodate all the new inmates. Or is the scapegoat system used by the Roman Legions alive and well in Britain today.
I hope all those MPs and ex MPs who were directly involved in the expenses scandal and haven't had the dread summons have at least had the good grace to say, "There but for the grace of God go I."