Wednesday, 14 October 2009
Expenses and road tax.
I might not have this perfectly right because I wasn't paying attention to that part of the Budget, but didn't our Darling chancellor decide to hike car tax and make it retrospective - so if you own a big car you'll have to pay a tax rise for the previous years, even though you've already paid tax for those years?
Well, if that's right, you might not have to pay it after all. Thanks to the kindly intervention of Alan Simpson.
Alan Simpson, Labour MP for Nottingham South, is refusing to pay back £500 he's accused of wrongly claiming. It's not easy to keep up with all this stuff and run a business too, but I'm pretty sure the excellently-named Sir Thomas Legg has so far only sent out letters. Those letters, as far as I can tell, ask for clarification or justification of certain items on the expenses list and if they can't be justified, they have to be repaid. So, again as far as I know, most have not yet been asked to repay, only to justify certain claims. If they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear and nothing to repay.
Besides, for someone on an MP's salary plus generous expenses, surely £500 isn't worth getting into a tizzy about? Don't kid us that it's the principle, Mr. Simpson. It's the money. With you lot, it's always the money. Creating this kind of fuss is going to do far more than £500 worth of damage to your party, your re-election chances and your standing in the community and all those effects will be ten times worse if you win your argument. Is all that really worth £500?
Ah, but this Simpson has a cunning plan. Here's what he thinks of Sir Legg:
"If he thinks that the principle of him coming in and retrospectively re-writing the rules would stand up before the courts, then I think he should test it before the courts," Mr Simpson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
Oh, I think so too. I think the courts should test, right now, whether it's legal to change the rules and make them retrospective. Simpson thinks Sir Legg has backed himself into a corner. No, Homer's dim brother, the corner is behind you.
Because if the MPs win this, every driver who gets hit with retrospective road tax can use that precedent in court. I hope every single driver does.
And if the MPs lose, they'll have to repay the money plus court costs. Either way, the public will hate them just for challenging Sir Legg and that hate will be magnified if they win.
Go for it, Alan Simpson. Go on, you know you want to. Ah, go on. Get a few mates to do it too. You might get to keep your five hundred beer vouchers if you win. Of course, people will pelt you with rotten fruit everywhere you go but you'll have £500, so what do you care? The Brown Gorgon will want your head on a spike for wrecking his road tax revenue and the whole Labour party will want your nuts crushed and salted for sending their re-election chances from catwalk-thin to positively anorexic, but never mind, just count the money again and you'll feel fine.
Labour. Thirteen years and still no clue what they're doing.
I blame Thatcher. If she hadn't started that whole 'care in the community' thing this lot would still be in Carstairs weaving baskets and crocheting little red flags. Perhaps the next government might consider putting them all back.