The DHSS have paid out many thousands of pounds for a TV ad campaign that has the end slogan "We're Targeting Benefit Fraud". There are dark shadows and slightly threatening music as a spotlight scans our cities, seeking out the cheats and the scroungers. Much as I detest any form of dishonesty, I find this campaign a bit rich in the light of what we now know about busloads of our politicians. Talk about pigs and troughs.
Expenses? Good lord, as a teacher you find that the bureaucracy and form-filling that you are required to do in order to claim legitimate expenses is like an insurmountable barrier so you just don't bother. I drove to Birmingham for a work related course last September and I didn't claim a single penny. Yesterday, a colleague went to a stationery shop in her spare time and bought highlighter pens for her classes with no intention whatsoever of seeking reimbursement.
But our servants in parliament, they have claimed for food bills, shelving units, moat cleaning, designer decoration, mortgages they didn't have, beds, bedding, hanging baskets, first class travel around the world, mock tudor beams, court summonses. The list goes on and on. And greedily they even "flip" first and second homes in order to milk more from the system.
Take our local MP, The Right Dishonourable Nick Clegg, dull as ditch water and leader of the so-called Liberal Democrats. There he is on television, all moralistic and shocked, talking about purging Westminster of its sinners. Yet he is just the same as the rest. Here in Sheffield, at the taxpayers' expense, he hired a gardener to maintain the land around his rarely visited constituency home. £260 a month for four hours work a week. Clegg grunted that he was doing the taxpayer a big favour because it was important for him to maintain the property to a good standard - thereby protecting national interest. What poppycock! Why couldn't he do what the rest of us do - get outside with our lawnmowers, clippers and brushes and if too busy or lazy to do the work then pay for a bloody gardener from your own pocket!
The whole thing is an absolute disgrace. I have voted in every election I could vote in since I turned eighteen... and always Labour - for socialism - or the tantalising idea of socialism - runs through my very bloodstream. But next time? Who is there to vote for? They're all the same. They may begin with good intentions - like the animals of Orwell's farm - but in the end they transmogrify into the very figures they pledged they would never become.