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Monday, February 13, 2006

In the thick of it

Jonathan Calder on Liberal England draws attention to this article in the Daily Mail. It is a fascinating insight into the political process from the point of view of an HQ insider. Given all the lectures we have received from the Secretary of State for Wales on the alleged (but untrue) abuse of public money by regional AMs, it is worth noting that the Assembly's House Committee has specifically outlawed this sort of behaviour (and reaffirmed that decision within the last month):

One of my tasks as a regional organiser was to arrange large mailshots to constituents in marginal seats to find out who were potential Labour supporters.

We would prepare an innocuous letter from an MP about a general subject – anti-social behaviour, street lighting or parking – and attach a voting intention survey.

Since we held MPs' signatures and photos on a digital database, we were able to create these communications without even contacting them. And we would use the Parliamentary postage allowance, which meant the taxpayer picked up the bill. It was a naughty thing to do, since this allowance was intended only for Parliamentary rather than party political business, but we did it all the time.

Perhaps MPs should get their own prcedures right before accusing others. Still, at least we now have an account that reinforces our suspicions as to how it is possible for some MPs to build up excessively large postage costs in their allowances.
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