As Maria Miller is rightly hounded out of office and hopefully into the courts for her egregious abuse of privilege, many are pointing out that she is but one rotten cog in a thoroughly rotten machine. So if we want real change – the prosecution of Maria Miller is where we start, not where we stop.
A Hideous Double Standard
Maria Miller is Culture Secretary and Equalities Minister for the UK government. Between 2005 and 2009 she claimed £46,000 in fraudulent expenses on the mortgage on a family home that she later sold for £1.2m – and used her position to bully a commissioner in efforts to keep the whole thing quiet. Her punishment? Giving back £5,000 and a 32 second apology in the House of Commons.
Despite abusing the expenses system for four long years, only ending her scam when the MP Expenses Scandal broke in 2009, and her evasion of the ombudsman reviewing her expenses ever since – she has been backed by Prime Minister David Cameron and cabinet colleagues. Cameron says of her:
“Maria Miller is in her job and she is doing a good job as culture secretary.
“Also, she went through this process and the committee found that she had made a mistake in her mortgage claims. She paid back money. She made an apology and that’s the right thing to do.”
Were it not for the relentless pressure of the news media and public campaigns – that would have been the end of the matter for Maria Miller. She cheated, she tried to cover it up, and she kept her job and her profits. For Maria Miller, crime paid.
In contrast, when 22 year old Sacha Hall helped herself to several bags of waste food left out by Tesco after its refrigerators failed – she was immediately arrested, charged with handling stolen goods, and taken to court and given a 12 month conditional discharge. Tesco even admitted there was no value to the food as it was heading to the landfill.
There is truly one rule for them, and one for everyone else.
The Crooked Cabinet
The Prime Minister
Prime Minister David Cameron is a lineal descendant of King William IV, great grandson of a 1st Baronet, grandson of a 2nd baronet, son of a stockbroker and an aristocrat. He was gifted with an Eton and Oxford education, and one might argue his career in politics, through sheer privilege of birth. He enjoys the benefits of a family fortune made in tax havens.
On becoming Chancellor in 2010, he quickly ‘flipped’ his first and second homes to claim over £100k of taxpayer money for interest payments on a mortgage for his £455k Cheshire pad. He later sold the home for over £1m having made improvements partly funded by taxes. He also claimed taxpayer money to cover payments on a horse paddock for the property.
When Osborne undersold the Royal Mail for less than half its value, meaning investors could buy the stock at knock down prices and sell it on almost immediately at a profit, one of the chief beneficiaries was his Best Man Peter Davies – who made £18m in a few short days.
The Work and Pensions Secretary
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan-Smith lives rent free in a £2m country estate owned by his aristocratic father in law. Whilst claiming he could live happily on the £53 a week some unemployed job seekers receive, he has claimed £39 on expenses for his breakfast.
In the Betsy Gate scandal of 2001, it was revealed that the tax payer was paying £15,000 a year for Duncan-Smith’s wife to become his ‘diary secretary’. There is ample evidence that Betsy didn’t perform any such role worthy of the salary, which was hardly likely to register in the bank accounts of the daughter of the moneyed 5th Baron Cottesloe of Swanbourne and Harwick.
Duncan Smith currently costs the tax payer a whopping £134, 565 in salary and expenses.
The Health Secretary
Jeremy Hunt, busy dismantling and flogging off the NHS, is also up to his eyes in corruption. Despite calls for his resignation after colluding with the Murdochs to give them a monopoly TV and Press in the UK in 2012, Cameron chose instead to promote him to Secretary of State for Health. And who has Hunt appointed as the new Chief of NHS England? Simon Stevens – former Chief of US private healthcare giant United Health and the man who started the NHS down the road of ‘competition’ under New Labour.
The Business Secretary
Vince Cable, sold to the nation as the lovable granddad that would put compassion back into the government’s economic strategy is nothing of the sort. Cable is being hauled before MPs for questioning after dramatically undervaluing the Royal Mail at privatisation – resulting in a £750m loss to the taxpayer, thanks to a deal he cooked up with the Banks keen to profit from it. Mark my words, when this parliament is through – Vince will be consulting for one of those Banks.
The Home Secretary
Theresa May’s husband is a director/shareholder in G4S. May has faced several conflict of interest allegations during her tenure. One of the worst was the case of G4S winning a £200m contract to run Lincolnshire police operations. G4S had recruited law firm White and Cade to support their bid. In a stunning coincidence, May invited Tom Winsor, a lawyer from the same firm, to conduct ‘an independent review of police reform’ in the run up to the bid – giving the lawyer access to privy information and contacts.
This list isn’t even exhaustive. Gove, Shapps and other cabinet members are on the fiddle too. But space requires I move on.
They’re All in it Together
And don’t think Labour are coming to the rescue either.
After opening up much of the nation’s law, policing and justice services to private security companies such as G4S while Home Secretary – former Labour MP John Reid became a Group Consultant for…G4S.
They Won’t Stop Until We Stop Them
We have a political system which helps those who help themselves to public money. Corporations and Cabinet members are in cahoots to asset strip the state – the schools, the hospitals, the libraries, the community centres, the playgrounds, the parks, the housing, even the roads and bridges. They want to commercialise the whole lot – all those things that we built and paid for as a nation, they want to sell and profit from as a tiny elite. We build it, we pay for it, they sell it to their mates at knock down prices and rent it back to us at exorbitant rates.
In light of the scale of corruption around us, some argue holding Maria Miller to account is a waste of time,. The opposite is true. It is precisely because parliament is so crooked that we need to be utterly relentless in chasing down every last crooked one of them – and as their numbers deplete, we have a better chance of changing the whole shoddy system itself.
Don’t get angry, get involved!
Sign the 38 Degrees petition for Maria Miller to face criminal charges.
Call 999 for the NHS – Organizers are recreating the Jarrow March in the name of our NHS this August. You can walk the whole 300 miles, smaller sections, or welcome the marchers to your town.
NHA Party – Join the NHA Party to stand up for the NHS at the next election.