Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Monday 1 June 2009

Duck Houses and Red Herrings

A look at my recent visitor statistics shows a surprising number of hits from one particular search term. 'Expenses', perhaps, or 'Kirkbride'? No, the term of the week is 'floating duck house'.

Sadly it appears that many of the searchers, being practically minded Nova Scotians or Queenslanders, are actually seeking plans and instructions for building such a thing and are hardly likely to be impressed by UK political commentary, let alone a specialist firm who'll charge you £1,645 plus shipping for a 'bird pavilion' - I bet the Queenslanders have a choice phrase for that sort of thing.

Like the rest of us, they have been lured by Viggers' folly away from the real matter in hand. While Britain gets hot under the collar about the Petit Trianon antics of a few Tory squires, the property scandal has been going on largely unheeded by the general population.

In fact, part of the problem here is the scale on which 'flipping' was used; it's easy to report in detail on a single duck house or chandelier, but when there may be hundreds of MPs involved in these complicated procedures, how do you make a headline-grabbing story?

The thing that's puzzling me here is how they all seemed to play a complex system so expertly. I gather there's a sort of Freshers Tea after every election where new MPs are shown the ropes, but from my experience of such occasions you are so overwhelmed you can barely remember afterwards where the lavatories are, let alone the mechanism for maximising your ACA while balancing your CGT liability.

I suspect that, once the Telegraph has drip-fed us the last of its already tediously spun-out titbits, we will finally see the emergence of an eminence grise from the Westminster shadows - a sinister controlling intelligence whose sole purpose is to enrich MPs at our expense.

Sincere apologies to all you Australians, Canadians etc who've been led here again by mistake.


  1. With the greatest respect, I think you will find that amongst New Labour, many came from Local Government where they had learned their trade well in fiddle dee dee. Others had been attached to political entities where financial and admininstrative controls were entirely unknown. Even worse, quite a few were lawyers, say no more. As for what many of the Tories did before entering Parliament well............

  2. Very true - it wouldn't take much for a trained legal brain to spot the loopholes.

    But all this does imply a lot of time spent searching out 'nice little earners' rather than doing the job that entitled them to the expenses in the first place.


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