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T_i_B Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-10-09 07:06 AM
Original message
Tony Blair facing questions over 296,000 mortgage
Source: Sunday Telegraph

The documents show that Mr Blair remortgaged his constituency home for 296,000, almost 10 times what he paid for it, months before he bought his town house in London for 3.65 million. Mr Blair was able to claim on his parliamentary expenses for the interest repayments on almost a third of the new mortgage on his constituency home.

The amount loaned was sufficient to cover the deposit on his house in Connaught Square, west London, one of five properties owned by the former prime minister, valued at 10 million in total.

Although Mr Blair did not break parliamentary rules, dozens of MPs appear to have used similar strategies to build property portfolios, which has given rise to suggestions that they "played the system".

The question of how Mr Blair was able to obtain a 3,467,500 mortgage on Connaught Square, which was more than 18 times his salary at the time, has always been surrounded in mystery.

Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses...



Over here in the UK the BIG scandal is the many, many abuses of the MP's expense system, which is milked by MP's from all parties on a massive scale. I'm posting this here to give you a flavour of the allegations as Blair is the one Uk politician who guarantees a reaction in the main forums but I can assure you that this is only the tip of the iceberg, with many others abusing the system.

Currently the Torygraph has been concentrating on Labour Ministers and today Sinn Fein but we are promised that Tory and Liberal Democrat MP's will also be fingered for abuse of the expenses system very soon.
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CJCRANE Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-10-09 07:20 AM
Response to Original message
1. I wonder
if this is a limited hangout to distract from bigger issues?

It all seems pretty small-fry compared to MI5 complicity in torture for instance, which seems to have disappeared off the radar, or revelations about pro-Iraq War intelligence gained via torture.
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T_i_B Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-10-09 07:29 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Er, I don't know if you are aware of the sheer scale of this scandal
Vast swathes of our elected officials are being shown to be more interested in playing the system then serving the common good. That ultimatly goes to the heart of the problem far more then one pet issue of yours.

More of a wake up call then a distraction if you ask me.
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CJCRANE Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-10-09 07:45 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. No one's going to prison over this
and most of it will be found to legal if morally questionable.

Let's look at the last issue I called out - the "blunder" that led to high-profile arrests of Pakistani terror suspects. What a surprise all the suspects were released without charge with less fanfare...not predictable at all.

I've been watching pols on both sides of the Atlantic for years, they use similar and fairly simple techniques, stuff a veteran DUer can see through.
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T_i_B Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-11-09 11:19 AM
Response to Reply #3
17. And do you know why it's "legal"?
Edited on Mon May-11-09 11:38 AM by T_i_B
Because the MP's milking the system are the ones who made the rules. No suprise when they devise a system that works for their own benefit and nobody else's and a matter that is destroying public trust in elected officials.

And the excuse that the dodgy claims on holiday homes in Southampton, luxury furnishings etc were all "within the rules" is pretty pathetic really.
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-10-09 08:01 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. Most people here care far more about this than complicity in torture
It may seem petty, but this shows individual decisions by MPs to milk the system for every last penny they could get, from the rules they set up themselves. While things like MI5 are collective decisions (but about the only person you can definitively say must have been involved was Blair, and he's already gone), these could lose the MPs their seats at the next election - their opponents, outside Parliament, will be rubbing their hand with glee at the ammunition this hands them.
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-10-09 09:14 AM
Response to Reply #4
7. It's all part of corporatism* and James K Galbraith's Predator State, isn't it? We helped our
Edited on Sun May-10-09 09:23 AM by Joe Chi Minh
CEO friends to bilk the public purse for all those years, and now via the bail-outs and bonuses. "Surely, we have a right to some share in the spoils? We need special, financial incentives to optimise our productiveness; the common workforce need to be kept in want to encourage their productiveness."

Since NuLab(c) have always defined the UK as co-terminous with their good selves, really, there is no reason for them to renounce their conviction that the UK has never been richer.

* "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-10-09 10:05 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. I have the horrible feeling you've captured their thinking all too accurately, Joe
"It doesn't matter that we've got 2 mortgages each; after all, the state pays the interest for one, and any gain in property values just comes straight to us. Can't we set up the whole country's finances the same way?"

This even puts the cut in the capital gains tax into perspective; they've been sitting there, worrying that the gains they've been making on their 2nd homes will get taxed, so with a lower CGT rate, they get to keep more of it.
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-10-09 10:50 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. They are so breath-takingly punctilious when it comes to protecting their own personal, economic
Edited on Sun May-10-09 10:55 AM by Joe Chi Minh
interests, it could leaves you in tears of wonder. A nice "catch" that, about the capital gains tax. Protecting their ill-gotten gains by legislation, if you please! It does take your breath away.

Rather like the incredibly profound, subtle and searching wisdom that lawyers in the courts, notably, the judiciary, are able to bring to economic matters, whereas, when dealing with human affairs, they give the deeply disturbing impression that they suffer from what is customarily described as an "incurable personality disorder".
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-10-09 01:18 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. You've perhaps read this occasionally hilarious article on the topic by Andrew
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LeftishBrit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-10-09 04:19 PM
Response to Reply #1
13. True that it's not on the level of torture and the war...
but I think it's fairly natural that citizens who have been subjected to the constant micromanagement, demands for 'accountability' often at the expense of civil liberties, and cuts in important areas inflicted by this government, should be unhappy at having our taxes support their snouts in the troughs, with no sign of any desire for 'accountability' on *their* part.
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imdjh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-10-09 09:50 PM
Response to Reply #1
16. Our system is much better
You mysteriously live on $185,000 per year and pay for your residence in your home state as well as your investment property in Washington (and your summer house in St Michaels) while paying $12K per year per kid for private school, while your wife makes $400K per year as a consultant having nothing whatsoever to do with her degree, and then after you retire on full salary you go on a speaking tour and get paid a fortune to talk to the people who were stuffing your campaign chest while you were in office.
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defendandprotect Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-10-09 08:11 AM
Response to Original message
5. Did we think politicians were selling their souls for pennies . .. ???
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Aragorn Donating Member (784 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-10-09 09:11 AM
Response to Original message
6. everyone here is correct IMO
Pols game the people, and corporations do too. (inc MIC) Step out of line, the man take you away.

Lame pun but I heard Tony B is still flipping out over this revelation.
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IndianaGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-10-09 01:24 PM
Response to Original message
11. Leading article: A flipping sense of entitlement
Tony Blair is not the only crook!

Leading article: A flipping sense of entitlement

Sunday, 10 May 2009


It is the details that do the damage. To be blunt, none of the MPs whose expenses were exposed last week has benefited unfairly from the public purse to anything like the extent of Sir Fred Goodwin, the former boss of RBS. His pension fund, paid for by the taxpayers that now own the bank, is worth 17m.

<snip>

But the outstanding issue is that of second homes. This is the real story forced into the open by Heather Brooke, the journalist and author of Your Right to Know whose freedom of information request led to the publication of detailed expenses. The most important revelation last week was the scale and extent of "flipping". MPs, from Alistair Darling, Geoff Hoon and Hazel Blears downwards, have arbitrarily designated their homes as "main" and "second", in a way that maximises the refurbishment for which they can claim. The bath plugs and wooden spoons are only details from shopping sprees on the "John Lewis list" for furnishing these second homes that add up to thousands of pounds. Large claims have been made for building work, which helped to pay for properties that could then be sold for a personal profit of thousands more.

Of course, the cost of Sir Fred's pension is greater than that of the Additional Costs Allowance for all MPs added together, which comes to 11m a year. But the system is rotten and needs a complete overhaul.

The Prime Minister almost got it right last month too late, needless to say when he announced a reform on YouTube. It would be fair to replace second-homes expenses with a modest flat rate allowance for MPs representing out-of-London seats: a sort of anti-London weighting. MPs who wanted to live in an expensive home, lavishly furnished, could pay the extra themselves. Gordon Brown's mistake was to try to gain party advantage. Because he failed to consult other party leaders, who might have warned him, he also unwisely tied the flat-rate allowance to attendance at the Commons, thus making it look as if MPs would be paid extra simply for turning up for work.

The Daily Telegraph's decision to devote its first two days of reports to the Government gave the unfair impression that Labour MPs are more guilty than Conservatives. But Mr Brown has not helped the governing party's case.

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/leading-articles/l...
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Vidar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-10-09 02:41 PM
Response to Original message
12. Corrupt to the core.
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IndianaGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-10-09 05:33 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. MPs milk millions even when they quit: Politicians cash in by selling second homes you funded when t
The UK has been rocked by scandals recently, including the one about one of Gordon Brown's top aides sending poison e-mails about the opposition. Here is a related article to the OP:

MPs milk millions even when they quit: Politicians cash in by selling second homes you funded when they leave Parliament

By Tim Shipman and Paul Sims
Last updated at 11:05 PM on 10th May 2009

MPs are in line for a multi-million pound windfall by selling taxpayer-funded second homes when they leave the Commons, the Daily Mail can reveal.

Many of those who have already decided to retire at the next election will pocket huge sums in pure profit.

Long serving MPs will have bought their properties during the early 1990s and have ridden the boom which sent the average price of a Westminster flat from 171,000 in 1997 to 543,000 last year.

During that period, taxpayers will have forked out up to 24,000 a year to help them buy and kit out their homes.

MPs who lose their seats - the majority of them likely to be Labour - will also benefit from the golden goodbye.

A Daily Mail survey of 60 MPs due to stand down at the next election found that at least 17 own homes in London and have claimed the second home allowance every year.

This small group alone stands to gain 4,487,000, an average of 263,941 each. With 485 MPs claiming second homes allowance, the total Commons pot of gold could be worth a breathtaking 128million.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1180220/MPs-mil...
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LeftishBrit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-11-09 01:08 PM
Response to Reply #14
18. The Daily Mail is very RW and unreliable...
There is plenty of independent evidence of bad practice and general all-round greed on the part of our MPs, but I wouldn't trust anything 'revealed' by the Daily Mail until I see it in a more reliable source.

If it is indeed found to be true that MPs can keep and sell 'second homes' on taxpayers' money, that is indeed disgusting. Once the MP has finished with a resource, it should be turned back to public use.
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-19-09 05:26 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Nobody's asking you to. What one earth do you expect of a paper that lauded Mussolinii
and Hitler to the skies, on their front page, before the war. I'm able to see through their game of "running with the hare and hunting with the hounds" and exploit it. If you can't, without reference to other contemporaneous media organs, you lack political nous.

Don't you people ever get tried of touting that truism, as if it had any significance to people who can see what they're up to? You would do well to read it on a daily basis. You can learn from what it doesn't report, as well. As a matter of fact, the Mirror is much more unreliable. Treacherous, in fact.
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LeftishBrit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-20-09 03:32 AM
Response to Reply #19
20. Who is 'you people'?
And what I say is in the context of our being on a board where most people are not British, do not have an opportunity to read every one of our daily papers on a daily basis even if they wished to, and may not realize which of our papers are most untrustworthy (most of them are to a degree!). Just as we wouldn't automatically realize which are the most unreliable American sources, and I would certainly prefer to be told. Because the BBC is comparatively reasonable, many people outside Britain don't realize how bad much of our media is.

It is indeed important to be familiar with all of one's country's media, because it has so much influence; but I don't want to see our RW media's lies spread around the world without contradiction.

I wouldn't recommend trusting the Mirror either, but at least they don't indulge in quite as much immigrant-baiting and calls for savage punishments and general all-round right-wing nuttery as the Daily Mail, Daily Express, or Sun.
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-20-09 06:30 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. "I wouldn't recommend trusting the Mirror either, but at least they don't indulge in quite
as much immigrant-baiting and calls for savage punishments and general all-round right-wing nuttery as the Daily Mail, Daily Express, or Sun."

That, of course, is absolutely true. It was probably less than a decade ago that their directors thought it would be fun to dress up for a party they were holding, as Nazis/Gestapo.

You seemed to be adressing me with your warning about the Mail being far right wing, and I've repeatedly had to respond to Guardian Talk posters on the same theme. You all need to stop thinking in cliches. Now, I'll give you one: "Know your enemy."

You can't talk down to people because you fear they might not be worldly enough to discern extreme right-wing politics, why are they on a political forum? Anyway. No hard feelings here. Just frustation.
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T_i_B Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-21-09 07:34 AM
Response to Reply #21
22. "Know your enemy"
You can get to do that by reading the Torygraph, which is far more reliable then the Daily Mail as a news source.
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-21-09 08:54 AM
Response to Reply #22
23. No. The Telegraph basically addresses the more natural Tory. The
Mail, council-house Tories, who were able to make sufficient difference to get Thatcher elected and re-elected by courtesy of the Falklands War. They didn't understand it was a con, and the rich actually do NOT want them to be rich and thus be able to compete with them - despite Thatcher's many assurances to the contrary, both verbal and by way of de-regulating the credit-card and mortgage industries.

But as I said - a matter you seem to be unaware of, or think is of no significance - in order to keep selling their popular, tabloid paper (and this is going become increasingly pronounced,) The Mail realises it must "run with the hare", as well as "hunting with the hounds".

Nowhere more so, of course, than in its financial columns. Of course, as part of the set-up, they are ambivalent about the whole business, really favouring the loony, Thatcherite neo-liberalism that got us into this mess, but they know the industry and that it's messed up on a grand scale, and when they criticise it, has they have been doing, the articles make fascinating reading.

Incidentally, no-one, but no-one is more viciously satirical about a right-winger than another right-winger. Though he had a superb writing style, I don't rate Evelyn Waugh as a great writer, but some of the satire Waugh directed at Rex Mottram, the newspaper- magnate character he created in Brideshead Revisited is the most searing and howlingly witty you could ever, ever read.
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LeftishBrit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-21-09 10:01 AM
Response to Reply #23
24. I actually agree about knowing your enemy.
I do read the various RW newspapers for that purpose, though not daily (my digestive system and blood pressure wouldn't survive).

I do think, however, that it's only fair to warn American and other non-British readers that the British RW tabloids are NOT reliable sources of info - just as they needed to inform us about the nature and influence of RW talk-shows. If they then want to read them regularly just to know what RW Brits are saying, that's fine; but they shouldn't be misled into thinking that they're reliable. (E.g. because the Hate-Mail is anti-New Labour, some non-Brits assume at first that this is on left-wing, rather than RW grounds.) It's not a question of people not being 'worldly' enough to deal with keeping their enemies close; it's a question that most people don't know a great deal about other countries' media. I had a (highly intelligent and educated) Canadian visitor who assumed that Britain was being overrun by immigrants and that this was the sole reason for overcrowding anywhere in Britain, because she thought that the Mail and Express were genuine news sources, until she was disabused of the notion. I don't know a great deal about Canadian media, and would welcome being informed if a particular source were unreliable.
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Joe2131 Donating Member (17 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-10-09 09:08 PM
Response to Original message
15. like that
it is like that
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