They knew the smelly stuff was going to hit the fan!

I am not usually one to read political diaries, but I was recommended to one written by Chris Mullins, entitled “A View From The Foothills.”

Mr Mullins was a junior minister in the Blair administration – he was probably a little too independent to climb too high up the ministerial ladder, but I believe he was generally well thought of by colleagues and opposition alike.

His diary entry for May 1st 2002 makes very interesting reading. I reproduce the relevant paragraph here in its entirety:-

Andrew Mackinlay dropped a little bombshell at this afternoon’s meeting of the parliamentary committee. Apparently, under the Freedom of Information Act, by January 2005 MPs’ expenses will be subject to public scrutiny, retrospectively. Goodness knows what mayhem that will cause. ‘We are in a jam,’ said Robin Cook. ‘Few members have yet tumbled to the juggernaut heading their way.’ He said he had been advised that we could probably get away with publishing headline figures and it would be desirable to start publishing a year before the deadline so that any fuss would have died down come the general election. It was agreed not to minute the discussion.

What an eye-opener that was! MPs knew that the storm was coming and even managed to delay it by a few years, but interestingly enough the fear of being exposed didn’t stop them claiming – most kepts their snouts in the trough for as long as they could!

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