Since when was your child's nanny the best person to employ as a secretary to an MP ?

Caroline Spelman, the senior Tory appointed by David Cameron to clean up the Tory Party, has been found out this morning for paying her nanny from parliamentary expenses.

Now Caroline Spelman's response has been to claim that her nanny did six hours work a day for her on constituency business, and that she was paid "in kind" for her duties as a nanny. This raises three questions.

1) If the nanny was employed in working hours to be a secretary, who was looking after the child during these hours ? It suggests, if Ms Spelman is right, that the nanny only worked as a nanny in the evenings, in which case, why employ a nanny ? This argument seems very odd.

2) Should expenses be used in this way to top up a person's salary when they are only being paid "in kind" for their real job. Surely during this period Ms Spelman should have been paying her salary from herself, not letting us top it up.

3) Are we really to believe that the person best placed to do the job of a secretary to an MP is a nanny ? I don't mean to offend any nannies, but surely an experienced secretary, PA or office manager is the person besat placed to do this job.

Of course these points are irrelevent when you hear that nanny's side of the story. According to her she occasionally answered the phone and posted letters. I have to ask Ms Spelman, if she thinks this amounts to six hours work a day, which is what she is claiming, then I think she lives on a different planet from us ordinary mortals.

The question now for David Cameron is what does he do now. After all, it was his decision to put Ms Spelman in her role to clear up the mess over expenses and leaving her in place would show that the Tories don't really are about the issue. Cameron has been quick to disown and condemn his MEPs who had expenses fiddles exposed this week, but the Tories have problems between their MEPs and their leadership in the UK anyway, so this was a good opportunity for Cameron to show them who was boss.

All in all, it does rather show the Tories up in the wake of Derek Conway, the two MEPs and now Ms Spelman, to be little different from those kicked out in 1997. Tory sleaze is a disease not easily got rid of by a dose of opposition.


Anonymous said...

I like the irony of the fact that members of the most eurosceptic mainstream party in the UK -the party most likely to criticise how public money is mishandled on an EU level- are the ones being caught out for doing just that.

jailhouselawyer said...

Things have certainly changed since I was at school. I was taught that integrity and dishonesty were two opposites. Now I discover that under the Tories they are one and the same thing. How confusing...

Bill Quango MP said...

Its like these terrorists on trial isn't it.
Any excuse, however implausible is better than the truth.

Paul Pinfield said...

Nich, I think your last paragraph is not sustainable. To claim that sleaze is a disease that effects Tories is politicking one step too far. I think there is a deeper problem of arrogance with make the political class believe that they have a right to use our money for their own benefit. However, I don't believe that she has fallen into this trap.

I have just watched Ms Spelman on BBC News. Her explanation seems to me to be entirely plausible.

Anonymous said...

Spelman's calim that this was legitimate flys in the face of what every normal person would expect to be normal. This is like someone putting in a false insurance claim. She didn't expect to be caught out but she has been.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Paul, It seems to me implausible that a women who claims to have answered the occasional phone call and posted some letters (this is wha tthe nanny herself says) could have done six hours paid constituency work each day.

If the nanny denies it, why does Ms Spelman insist she has done it ?

Paul Pinfield said...

I think we are being overtaken by events Nich. My feeling this that Michael Crick got the answers he was after.

No doubt, Ms Spelman was rather stupid to multiplex like this, but I doubt there are was any real deceit.

Don't get me wrong. I have been a LibDem for 24 years. I just don't see this that way it is being portrayed.

Paul Pinfield said...

ordovicius - I completely agree with you.