Andrew MacKay: ‘a thief, a crook, a scamster, a dishonest man with no sense of moral judgement and no sense of right and wrong’
How can an MP give a moral lead to the nation when he is so deficient in his personal morality? This BBC report is compulsive viewing – not only because in its spectacle it is pure theatre in the Aristotelian sense (lacking only in music, though Beau Bo D’Or could easily rectify that). But it is also both tragedy and comedy: tragic for the Conservative Party which has to endure – on the eve of a crucial election – the demoralising consequences of Sky accusing David Cameron’s erstwhile ‘Senior Parliamentary Adviser’ of being ‘disingenuous’ while the voters of Bracknell accuse him of ‘misrepresenting’ his constituency meeting; and comic in the extent to which Mr Mackay sustains the absurd (and utterly unscientific) assertion that each time he was criticised ‘a quarter of the audience applauded’, and each time there were expressions of support ‘three quarters of the audience applauded’. It is astonishingly poor judgement evidencing complete insensitivity to the anger and mood of the nation.
Andrew MacKay dismisses criticism and patronises the people. In the interview he even contradicts himself, insisting twice that this was a ‘straw poll’, and then saying this ‘wasn’t a straw poll’ (does he understand the term?). Significantly, the Association chairman did not permit a vote, simply leaving Mr MacKay to communicate his feelings and subjective perception of how the meeting went.
Straw poll or not, this embarrassing interview really ought to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. In today’s Daily Mail Lord Tebbit warns David Cameron about perceived double standards in his dealing with Conservative MPs. The axe has fallen swiftly on some Tory grandees of the old school, with their knighthoods, mansions and duck islands. But Mr Cameron’s modernising friends and fellow Old Etonians have been spared such summary judgement. Sir Peter Viggers was sacked for claiming £30,000 on ‘gardening expenses’; Anthony Steen was sacked for claiming £88,000 on ‘property maintenance’. But Andrew MacKay and his wife Julie Kirkbride have fleeced the taxpayer of a whopping £282,731 in an audacious and utterly immoral scam.
Their expense claims were neither within the letter nor the spirit of the rules. The claim for their two houses was fraudulent because in the eyes of the law Andrew Mackay and Julie Kirkbride are one. The religious marriage service became a state contract precisely for the purposes of defining property ownership and such matters as financial inheritance rights.
When the two became one, their properties became co-owned and they became mutual beneficiaries of each others’ estates and mutually liable. Yet Mr MacKay nominated the family home in Ms Kirkbride’s constituency as his second home, while she nominated their London property as her second home. Thus neither of them had a primary residence: they lived in both homes wholly at the taxpayers’ expense. In short, Andrew Mackay and Julie Kirkbride sought to defraud the taxpayer by pretending that their properties were separately owned by separate people. They were not because they are not.
The 'advice' of the Fees Office in this scam is immaterial. The claim was immoral, deceitful, and quite possibly illegal. They have brought the Conservative Party into disrepute, and they should be deselected. If they are not, the Party risks losing two 'safe' seats to high-profile 'anti-sleaze' Jury Team candidates.
This Sky interview is damning. The good that Andrew MacKay has done for the people of Bracknell has, in the words of one constituent, been ‘swept away by greed’
Yet incredibly, manifesting his disdain for the voters and showing utter contempt for the taxpayers, he is not volunteering to pay back any of the £282,731 he and his wife have fraudulently claimed. He dismissively says: “I will naturally abide by the decision of those who are looking into these affairs who will make recommendations on what if any money to return.”
What if any money to return?
This beggars belief.
Andrew MacKay is obviously banking (literally) on the fact that membership of the Conservative Party's scrutiny committee consists of:
• David Gold, senior partner at Herbert Smith
• Patrick McLoughlin MP, Chief Whip
• John Randall MP, Assistant Chief Whip
• Ed Llewellyn, DC's Chief of Staff
• Ian McIsaac, Head of Compliance at CCHQ
• Jeremy Middleton, Chairman of National Conservative Convention
And whips doubtless stand by each other like Freemasons (that is if they are not all Masons anyway).
Bracknell (and Bromsgrove) 2010 are in danger of becoming a replay of Tatton 1997. Andrew Mackay and Julie Kirkbride are recontaminating the Conservative brand. They must both step down for the good of the Party: they both need to spend more time with their families in their respective second homes.