Over the weekend, several of the biggest newspapers in Britain reported the scandal of the MPs who claim, as a collective, over £200,000 of taxpayer’s money for energy bills in their homes. The Sunday Mirror, who spearheaded the story with their investigation, were quick to point the finger at the Tories as being the biggest culprits, highlighting in particular Nadim Zahawi, MP for Stratford-Upon-Avon, whose own claim of over £5,000 no doubt dropped the jaws of many taxpayers.
But the rank hypocrisy of MPs cozying up without a care for their bill prices is as much a Labour problem as it is for the Conservatives. Even worse, it goes right to the top.
Yesterday, we at The Backbencher retweeted this, taken from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, the site set up to encourage transparency over MPs expenses, highlighting the expenses claimed on energy bills by none other than Labour leader, Ed Milliband. The MP for Doncaster North and leader of the Opposition claimed just under £350 for his energy bills for October to December last year on his expenses.
Coming in just weeks after the Labour Conference where the centrepiece of his speech was focused on countering the rise in energy bills, figures like these suggest that Milliband doesn’t care that energy bills have gone up drastically in price; or, at least, he doesn’t have to care, if the taxpayer has been paying them for him.
What rises out of a little bit of thinking on this point is important for the political future of Britain; if Milliband isn’t worried about energy bills (he is legally entitled to make those expenses claims, of course!), why should we take him seriously on anything he has to say about Britain’s economy?
It isn’t enough that his plan to freeze energy prices for 18 months should he come into power will almost certainly meet disaster for consumers of all economic backgrounds; if he doesn’t have to pay for it , what’s his bother? Or, if he cripples to public pressure and starts paying it, who is to say there shan’t be some other bill or expense claimed for to be picked up by the work forces of Britain, many of whom are rightly terrified of their energy bills rising?