Must say I'm a little surprised that Hennigan and Rowen haven't come out fighting over Going Completely Bananas on Expenses Gate. PR Paul Rowen MP was observed in incandescent rage as a small but perfectly formed bunch of Bananas protestors turned up for his breakfast meeting at 8AM on Friday. There he was meeting with his old mates from his "ruining the council" days - Rotarians, Worshipful Brothers, Property Developers and fading Business Men - and there's a bananas protest raining on his parade.
By the time his wicked Henchman Hennigan had moved along a perfectly peaceful and very good-humoured protest, even "laying hands" on the obviously 999 criminal "banana people", and even coming off worse in a battle of words with a teenager, and it had all finally slipped by, at 12 noon or so, PR Paul Rowen MP was incandescent. Instead of taking it on the burgeoning treble chin as most other gravy-training honourable members have felt for the best PR Paul Rowen MP was incandescent, furious with Hennigan for not protecting him from local people with a sense of humour, not to mention a feeling that he should be accountable.
The banana was 40p and part of an intern's lunch. Big deal! PR Paul Rowen MP spent a lot of political capital and seven paragraphs of rebuttal dealing with what ought to have been petty cash items. Including the famous knob of butter, and the not so famous "TV Services" widely believed to be an Adult Film.
Perhaps more seriously PR Paul dealt with the way that thousands of pounds was paid direct to the Lib Dem party and indirectly to Lib Dem interests. As far as we know this was all entirely "within the rules". Various "within the rules" tricks and gimmicks saw money that once belonged to the tax payers fairly quickly finding its way into local Lib Dem party funds.
Clearly once it was there the local Lib Dem party could spend the cash on whatever they wanted. Including using money for an MPs entirely non-political and non-VFM advertisements in paying for campaigning print for example. Paying their own share of a tricky shared office rent from money he had given them for his rent. According to their own audited accounts. Making a substantial profit in the process.
The eventual rent being paid to other Lib Dem interests and indeed a company that they themselves part owned. And which that company would go on to donate back to the local party. And so on and so on the money went round the Rowen carousel. All completely "within the rules" we must believe. But in these days of the recalibrated sleazeometer "how does it look?" and "should it be within the rules?" and "would an MP of good judgement claim in this way?" are the questions the PR Paul Rowen MP crew need to answer.
And at another level of course Rowen - and other Lib Dem MPs - also paid LOTS of taxpayer money to their Regional Office, like a tithe, apparently for some vague consultancy and training and IT services. Surely this needs to be looked at carefully? Surely it is fair enough to expect any MP to be accountable on all this?
Tense times. Are the pair about to call it a day and split up? Will Rowen's McBridivist smear merchant Hennigan hit the high road? And if so will that be reckoned on as a banana split? Or will the pompous pair come out fighting?