Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lord Rennard is innocent!

As I start to sip my pint of heavily overpriced Fruili in the White Hart near by house in Crystal Palace, news comes through that Chris Rennard has been cleared of any wrong doings on expenses. He broke no rules. Rather puts the boot into all the stories of wrong doing that those on the right (possibly upset by his record of destroying the Tories in byelections) have spread. The right are wrong! Not for the first time.
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Anonymous said...

Are you accusing Paul Pettinger of being right-wing Jonathan...?

You headline is also optimistic, he's actually been cleared of something very specific, breaking Parliament's rules, according to the way Parliament choose to interpret them. And that clearance has been given by an Officer of Parliament, not an objective third party.

That is no more significant legally or ethically in regards to whether a fraud has been committed than the MPs fees office turning a blind eye to tax-dodging, flipping, or claims for capital repayment on mortgages.

Rather the Clerk has now given licence to every peer to buy a second home for the purpose of maximising their income.

How definitive that is may cause further confusion. Has he for example licensed Taylor of Warwick to claim for a phantom home, or Uddin for a real one she didn't use... not clear at all...

I agree though this matter is probably over for Rennard, but is not certain. Sunlight could take this ruling to the Parliamentary ombudsman, or the Police, or private prosecution. Any of these could assess whether 'main residence' has a legal meaning not examined by the Clerk, such as for example living in one place more than another, and whether Rennard has provided sufficient evidence to qualify.

From the full report it is only clear he can prove he owns a second property and uses it on occasion, something never in contention. That may be good enough for Clerk and Liberal Democrats, I question whether it would stand up to much scrutiny externally.

Sunlight might also issue another complaint based on his claims in 2002/03 where he was using his old home in Wokingham as the basis for £22k of allowances. Odd they chose not to put that in the first complaint.

All that is clear so far then is that Rennard has successfully gamed the system for personal gain a way most other Lords chose not to do. His only defence for that behaviour was that it was "within the rules", something Parliament has now confirmed.

Not that it was right, necessary, proper, or ethical, but that he could get away with it.

That doesn't make him a saint or innocent, it makes him a successful chancer, an analysis that could be applied to most of his career with the Party.

What is 'wrong!' in this case is people like you think it's o.k. to public representatives of the party to behave like that.

If you do one day have your own career in Parliament I hope your own standards of conduct will be significantly higher. But right now all you are doing is demonstrating the vast gulf in understanding between career political hacks like yourself and Rennard and the general public.

Jonathan Wallace said...

The point of my post was that Chris had been accused of breaking the rules. I made no comment on the expenses system generally and were you to read other blog posts I have written, you would see that I do not support the current system. The point is that Chris is innocent of the accusations that have been kicked about.

And frankly, your views would hold more weight if you did not hide behind the cloak of anonimity.