Faced with a listing of some of PR Paul Rowen MP's little wrinkles around allowances claims and best Lib Dem practice the Norfolk Blogger Nic Starling has left a pithy rejoinder (also above). Here's an open letter in reply:
Thanks for your enquiry. The answer is two fold:
For the Labourites, mirroring their constituents on council estates, it was often a case of finding themselves with a few bob and getting a big fuck off telly or two on the taxpayer. Positioned so it can be seen by neighbours, natch.
For the Tories, mirroring their core vote or perhaps not so much, it was Wisteria, Moat Cleaning, Ride on Lawnmowers and Duck Houses. And a nanny.
My point is that for the Lib Dems it appears to be relatively modest amounts of these two vices plus a sort of "within the rules" money laundering which for some reason or other the media haven't latched onto.
As I stated before I think it is a case of delayed gratification and not somehow charitable or reasonable to raid the tax pot to fund campaigning. And Mr Chris Davies vain and feigned fury at Bournemouth is the cherry on the icing of the cake of Lib Dem hypocrisy and shamelessness on expenses.
Sooner or later LOL feel that this hubris and what I feel is hypocrisy will come back and bite Mr Davies' bony fell running arse.
This stuff often isn't "within the rules" at all - in my opinion - because the expenditure isn't necessary and doesn't help representation of the constituents who are paying for these schemes.
Paul Rowen MP epitomises this meme. There are plenty of other candidates. But Rowen is a tremendous example. He is so very up himself. His people are fighting so very dirty. And he really isn't all that as an MP. He wasn't all that as a councillor to be honest.
The more I delve into the records of Rowen's LD colleagues the more of a pattern can be seen. Almost as if there is a coordinated strategy of maxxing campaign war chests by systematically exploiting loopholes, grey areas, and to my mind plain old cheek.
Mr Starling has a blog. Lots of Lib Demmers have blogs. If there are examples of Labour MPs in "worse offences" then for goodness sake let's be having them. We'd want rid of any MPs who were bending the rules to the extent I believe Mr Rowen and others are doing. I'd personally organise a "recall" campaign if I thought my MP was up to the sorts of tricks carried out by Mr Rowen.
I'd say the Labour and Tory excesses and errors of judgement have mostly been raked over with a fine tooth comb by the Torygraph. What I cannot see is an equivalent raking over with a fine tooth comb of the sort of gimmicks the Lib Dem franchises appear to be collectively practicing. Your party are missing out. And LOL are all for fair play. Here are some of the headline characteristic Lib Dem gimmicks:
On a sample basis PR Paul Rowen MP appears to have political attack dogs instead of case workers. And the Lib Dem group's tithe apparently pays for another attack dog working in the same space and with the same smeary style as the smeary Riso in the back room. The last time his party published accounts - a good long time ago, despite the apparent turnover - they spoke of the MP taking over the cost of the political workers and the party no longer having to fund them.
In Rowen's case there are also some local angles and obviously the hilarious banana and the mysterious TV Services (£9.99). And the "owned" local web publisher (a Tory freemason and pornographer lite, tea totaller and born again "Christian") who is acting like a super numerary attack dog of the vilest kind, while getting paid with tax pounds to produce a website from the PCA that itself appears to flaunt the rules from time to time.
And there are also four cases of three and four figure claims being knocked back by the Fees Office. Common enough. But whereas we know about the Labour and Tory idiots whose claims were thrown out as try ons there is little information about Rowen's. I needed an FOIA requests to even get a start.
And of course Rowen is an ex- Deputy Head sitting not so pretty on a tasty pension pot for that. And he took two years of two job double helpings, claiming he was giving his councillor take to charity and would reveal all. But so far he has failed to do so.
And Rowen is a remunerated Director of an offshore company directly linked to a property company on his patch. And that local company is business-linked to the Lib Dem run council through leasing them substantial offices. And Rowen has some Euro gravy also.
Mr Rowen claims manfully that everything he does is "within the rules" and in terms of the letter of the rules it might be. Sailing very close to the wind for this old windbag. But it might be.
Exploiting loopholes and pushing the envelope in the grey areas. But my feeling is that much of it offends the underlying test of being wholly necessary, much of it is terrible value for money, and in this new age of expected purity the electorate's recalibrated nostrils are twitching.
They do not like what they can smell from Mr Rowen's direction. And not just that baleful aftershave.
LOL are not for one minute suggesting that there are no bad apples left to expose among the Labour or indeed Tory ranks. But what I am suggesting is that these contrived practices appear to be concentrated heavily among Lib Dems and simply ARE NOT found to be endemic in the other parties.
Taking each in turn.
So Nic Starling ... LOL will bring Lib Dem and Tory expenses, allowances and donations schemes kicking and screaming into the light. If there are Labour MPs with "worse offences" than Rowen's catalogue of GRASPING BANANAS NONSENSE then please be shining the disinfecting light onto them too.
If you make the case well LOL will even link to your posts Nic. And we've one or two stories in "legal" at the moment ourselves.
Yours aye aye
UPDATE: Point 6 and response added at 13:58.
Finally, as a little adjunct to yesterday's Lib Dem PPC Crazy in Machine Gun Hoax scandal we've found this cutting in the archives at the much missed Fib Dems site.