I am hopelessly out of date on current affairs, always. I do try and read the Telegraph online every day (The Times is for subscribers only), I get a subscription to The Week thanks to my mum and my mother-in-law regularly, very kindly posts various supplements from the weekend papers. I also occasionally watch the BBC news. However, on reading a back dated copy of The Times Review this morning, I was surprised to see news that a UK MP was actually jailed for fiddling his expenses (remanded rather than just severely reprimanded).
I'm not sure how this whole scandal slipped past my radar.. apart from the fact that the news broke in early January and we were still in the throws of Christmas, school starting and visitors. Anyhow, I thought it worth a mention especially since the 'oh so vocal' Kenyan politicians seem to get away with murder in this country, literally -(since they are busy trying to divorce themselves from the remit of the ICC). Big sigh!
(BTW Chris Foot, new presenter on Capital FM, please do stop trying to brain wash us all that Ocampo is some sort of bumbling crook and that no one believes in the ICC - it's grating - your mates are going down.)
Back to the point - In actual fact, two UK MPs have now been jailed for the same infraction (the second in Feb) - defrauding public funds. Former Labour MP David Chaytor was found guilty of fraudulently claiming 18,350 pounds (around 2 million shillings) in expenses over a matter of years. He apparently claimed for rent for two homes, one using a fake tenancy agreement, the other claiming for a home that was actually owned by his senile mother and forged invoices for computer services. He is now in jail for 18 months - He's recently been moved to an open prison but still, his barrister described him as 'a broken man.'
Fomer Labour MP Eric Illsley was sentanced to 12 months in prison having been charged with false accounting amounting to 14,500 in parliamentary expenses. Tory Peer Lord Taylor of Warwick has been found guilty in January and is awaiting sentancing. Two other former MPs Elliot Morley and Jim Devine are still awaiting trail.
It's worth noting that these MPs are paid far less for their public service than their Kenyan counterparts. When the MPs expenses scandal first broke in the Uk in 2009, some felt that the fraud was almost 'justifiable' since they were paid so poorly. In the context of Kenyan politics, the amounts defrauded are tiny compared to the 'billion shilling' scandals we are used to hearing/reading about, so you'd almost be forgiven for thinking the charges insignificant. Yet they are not. These UK MPS have been taken to task ostensibly because they have 'born a small but signficant part of the responsibility in the public's loss of trust in MPs'. Fair enough.
I'm not suggesting a Middle East style/Facebook revolution here, but really - when does the impunity end?