I was trying to work out what bothered me so much about Hazel Blears appearing on TV waving her cheque for £13k which she will repay to the taxpayer. Why was this so much worse than other MPs like Margaret Moran, and David Davis merely saying that they were repaying money?
It came to me that there was a touch of "loads-of-money" about Blears actions. Waving cash at people, waving cheques implies you have got a lot of money on hand. Essentially she was saying with her body language, I'm rich, I can write a cheque for £13 grand just like that (imagine smug click of the fingers). Which makes things so much worse.
The median income in Britain is about £25,000, which implies that about half the workforce, 14 million, earn less than that. They don't have £13k on hand to be able to write cheques to wave in people's faces. And if you've got lots of money on hand, why do you need to nick from the public purse?
Hazel Blears has been making a big fuss in recent weeks about how she is a better communicator than Gordon Brown. It's perfectly true that Gord doesn't know how to do anything but serious. Put him in front of a camera and ask him to smile and he struggles. But he has never been known to wave cheques in the faces of people either. If Hazel Blears was really the great politician and communicator she claims she is, she wouldn't have done it. Instead she'd have been contrite and apologetic. If she's such a useless politician, should she be an MP?
Today's NEC meeting has provided some guidelines of what will happen. There is going to be independent scrutiny of every claim made by every Labour MP in the last four years. The people breaking the spirit of the rules will be made to return the money. An NEC panel will recommend the deselection of the worst cases regardless of whether they have repaid or not (i.e. repaying will not save you). I hope Hazel Blears is one of those given the chop.