Friday, May 15, 2009

Andrew MacKay – duplicitous, deceitful and disgraced

The Rt. Hon. Andrew MacKay MP is not a pleasant face, and certainly not the sort of attractive personality which could ever embody David Cameron's compassionate conservatism. Mr MacKay sullies the brand and brings the Conservative Party into disrepute. One only has to read the article in the Bracknell Forest Standard of just a few days ago in which he boasts that he had ‘nothing to fear’ and assuring his constituents that all of his expenses were ‘reasonable’, to realise that Andrew MacKay is either deluded by a sense of his own infallible omnipotence or is a perma-tanned-bare-faced liar and a fraud.

Let Cranmer assure his readers and communicants that he is undoubtedly the latter, with a very unhealthy dose of the former.

And if Mr MacKay wishes to appoint Carter-Ruck to guard what shreds are left of his honour, Cranmer is more than ready to defend himself.

The truth is that Andrew MacKay had an awful lot to fear: his expense claims were not only unacceptable and unreasonable; they were morally repugnant. He pompously and self-righteously boasted: "There is nothing that I've been asked to give back but there are others who have... I am confident there is nothing unreasonable in there at all.” The self-righteousness of this ego is repulsive. He he is one of the few characters at Westminster whose demeanour evinces his disposition: he is the very incarnation of vanity and arrogance. But apologising ‘profusely’ for an ‘error of judgement’ is woefully inadequate, especially when he is the sort of vermin who will come up with whatever form of weasel words may be politically expedient to swipe aside whatever is inconvenient.

The man is one of the most odious, malicious, deceitful and vindictive people in politics. The Prince is his bible, 1984 is his creed, and Mein Kampf is his manifesto. He had the power to construct a party in his image – to determine who was in and who was out; who was advanced and who was perpetually frustrated. And he ruthlessly and mercilessly exercised it. The profound sadness is that as much as David Cameron attempts to restore the moral foundation of the Party’s expression of Conservatism, Andrew MacKay will remain a sleazy and corrosive irritant which will fatally undermine the virtuous restoration. He is a chimera of Rasputin, Stalin and Machiavelli. His continuing presence in the Party perverts the cause of truth, and the mere sight of him offends against all notions of humility and integrity. For Andrew MacKay, people do not matter, humanity is secondary, and compassion is non-existent. To talk of degeneracy or disgust would be complimentary: if Speaker Martin is faecal bacteria, Andrew MacKay is an entire sewer.

The scam he worked is quite basic and, apparently, ‘within the rules’. But it beggars belief that he could have considered it moral. Firstly, he and his wife, Julie Kirkbride, claimed each other’s travel costs. Ms Kirkbride took £1,392 under the allowance to meet spouse travel, while Mr MacKay claimed £408. But he and his wife also own two homes. While she designated one home her second residence, he designated their other home as his second residence. They therefore had no primary home, and over a period of nine years they were able to fleece the taxpayer of somewhere between £100,000 - £200,000. This positively dwarfs the £16,000 fraud perpetuated by Elliot Morley – for which he has been suspended by the Parliamentary Labour Party. Yet the only indignity suffered by Andrew MacKay has been the relatively slight inconvenience of having to resign as David Cameron’s ‘senior parliamentary adviser’. And the loss of the title doubtless will not prevent him from continuing to put about a bit of stick or acting as Mr Cameron’s back-room enforcer.

Boldly taking a moral lead on this unsavoury episode, ConservativeHome have conducted a poll of 1,414 Conservative Party members, and 66 per cent are persuaded that Mr MacKay should be deselected. Cranmer is incredulous that 18 per cent are persuaded that Andrew Mackay’s continuing presence on the Conservative benches is not the personification of all that is avaricious, duplicitous or ‘nasty’ about the Conservative Party. What is wrong with these people? David Cameron is the best thing that has happened to the Conservative Party since Margaret Thatcher (and Cranmer knows). The stench of Andrew MacKay re-contaminates the brand which Mr Cameron has worked tirelessly and assiduously to purge of its more unpalatable perceived expressions.

Andrew MacKay’s moral deficiency is manifest not only in his ‘error of judgement’, but in his continuing insistence that he is not really at fault. He said: “This was all transparent, it was all approved and frankly until it was drawn to my attention it did not occur to me that it didn't pass the reasonableness test.”

How could it not occur to him that claiming for two second homes was not reasonable?

He professes in a BBC interview that he did not know what he was doing was in any sense wrong. He says he was 'acting on advice'. Claiming for two second homes had apparently ‘been agreed with the fees office’. But any honest person would realise that by claiming for both houses, they were perpetuating an outrageous fraud upon the taxpayer – an undeniable moral fraud if not a literal financial one. Since he asserts he was acting on advice he is adamant that he should not suffer any further discipline. Apparently, the first he realised his arrangements were wrong, even morally wrong, was in a phone call he had on Tuesday. His ‘error of judgement’, he says, was in accepting the advice of the fees office.

Andrew MacKay professes to be ‘very passionate about Bracknell’, and does not intend to stand down as the constituency’s MP because he has ‘put (his) all into representing Bracknell over the years and (he has) very close bonds with the people’.

But what commitment can he possibly have to the people of Bracknell when he has never bothered to live among them? What ‘close bond’ can there be when he has no home there? He does not pay their local taxes, use their schools or hospitals, or frequent their pubs, shops or leisure facilities. The people of Bracknell must see that their MP is part-time and detached. Bracknell for him is simply the means by which he can wield power at Westminster. His local association must now see that he is an electoral liability and there is a distinct possibility of a local independent ‘Martin Bell’ standing on an anti-sleaze platform.

How can it be possible to feel that one must resign from the front bench over financial impropriety but still consider oneself fit to be a Conservative Member of Parliament? The possibility that he will be mobbed by reporters or heckled by an angry electorate will make effective campaigning impossible. And there is no point in the Conservative Party winning the key marginals if they lose the ‘safe seats’ already held. The brown envelopes which unseated Neil Hamilton and caused the deselection of Tim Smith contained nothing like £100,000. Andrew MacKay should be deselected by his local association for he has shown himself unfit for public office. He has systematically milked the system and stands accused of fraud.

The Prime Minister suspended Elliot Morley for failing to notice that his mortgage had been paid off. David Cameron must be equally as robust in dealing with the gross abuse perpetrated by Andrew MacKay and Julie Kirkbride. The swamp must be drained of the lowlife, and the Party purged of such pollutants.


Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

It is written:

‘A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.’

Mr Mackay has selected the latter.

15 May 2009 at 09:27  
Anonymous Stop Common Purpose said...

Delusion is the theme that runs through this expenses scam.

A lot of these MPs simply do not understand that they have done anything wrong.

Perhaps Your Grace could arrange a course on basic morals for future MPs.

15 May 2009 at 09:54  
Blogger The Heresiarch said...

Is it mere gallantry that forbids your grace from writing in the same impassioned terms about Mr Mackay's equally guilty (one must assume) wife? Or do you merely find her face less repulsive?

15 May 2009 at 10:00  
Blogger Manfarang said...

Doesn't Mr Cameron claim expenses?

15 May 2009 at 10:00  
Blogger Demetrius said...

For those of us who still watch the repeats of "Porridge" on the old series channels of Sky, McKay was surely the officious and unpleasant senior prison officer at war with Fletcher (Ronnie Barker) and his friends? So what does that make Mr. Cameron? A Prison Officer Barrowclough for our times?

15 May 2009 at 10:27  
Anonymous Alan B'stard said...

Aandrew is a very decent open good man. Lets all wake the f**k up and focus on the issues, to be quite honest this witch hunt over what in total is about £10mm is pathetic. Wake up and sort out the country. I left the UK to get away from you losers moaning all the time and having to pay 50% for the pleasure, I made the right decision clearly

15 May 2009 at 10:27  
Blogger Gnostic said...

The ghost of Alan B'Stard is alive and well and profiting from ill-gotten gains.

Your, Grace, I agree with most of your comments. However, there is no way on this Earth I would equate Cameron with Margaret Thatcher. It would be like comparing a prize heifer to what it leaves behind in the grass, something that Cameron is full of...

15 May 2009 at 10:28  
Blogger Dave said...

Your Grace,

Stop beating about the bush and tell us what you really think.

Seriously though, I agree with every word you wrote.

15 May 2009 at 10:28  
Anonymous Alan B'stard said...

Andrew is the prodigal son of MT, I am a disciple. A friend of Kilroy's is a friend of mine.

15 May 2009 at 10:33  
Anonymous Maturecheese said...

Alan B'stard

Clearly you have done the country a favour by leaving as you fail to understand that its about Trust and accountability.

15 May 2009 at 10:33  
Anonymous Alan B'Stard said...

I'm an Investment Banker I'm only interested in earning as much money for myself as possible or so the public would like to think. Rules are rules and Andrew operated not only within the rules but within the spirit of the rules. This vile witch hunt outrageous. Is it a crime to be rich these days. Certainly not here in Singapore. Asia gets it, it exists to make money. The UK is a petty squabbling playgroud quibbling over £2mm while the world speeds ahead. Good Luck, you're going to need it!

15 May 2009 at 10:45  
Blogger Manfarang said...

Alan B'Stard
Your bank account isn't no.88888 by any chance?

15 May 2009 at 11:10  
Anonymous Alan B'Stard said...

its got a lot more 00000000000000s
more than wheelnuts on my lambo's alloys
seriously, move to singapore. UKs over guys!

15 May 2009 at 11:14  
Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

".... seriously, move to singapore. UKs over guys ..."

Sir Alan

Isn't that what they all said in Singapore in November 1941

I remain your obedient servant etc

G Eagle

15 May 2009 at 11:32  
Blogger Manfarang said...

Alan B'Stard
I like Thailand better.

15 May 2009 at 11:32  
Anonymous wonderfulforhisage said...

Your Grace,

Have you any comments about Mr McKay's ex employer vis a vis this debacle?

15 May 2009 at 11:49  
Anonymous Ronnie1001 said...

Hmmm... If they hadn't bothered to get married but were 'living in sin', then would not their independent expenses have remained unquestioned?

So are you (indirectly) following Labour's welfare state mentality of penalising people for getting married?

15 May 2009 at 11:55  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

There seems to be something that does not sit comfortably in your article. I think it is this: ‘compassionate conservatism’.

In its current British form it seems to have three pillars – one of which Judaeo-Christians cannot and will not accept. We are not going to put up with Tony Blair Mk II.

It is unlikely that DC will change his mind. DC will go. A man ‘who will rule with a rod of iron shall rule this country’.

15 May 2009 at 12:17  
Blogger McKenzie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

15 May 2009 at 12:37  
Anonymous len said...

Headlines off The Daily mail,
"First MP`s said their expenses were'within the rules'
Then they tried to buy their way out of trouble by repaying the money. But what people want is to see them in court.And if the authorities won`t do it, the Mail will- with a campaign of private prosecutions."

15 May 2009 at 13:28  
Anonymous len said...


15 May 2009 at 13:29  
Blogger Council House Tory said...

Your Grace

I was pointed to this article by a fellow tory. Can I assure you that Mackay is viewed in exactly the way you have so succintly put it here.

Getting him to piss off will, unfortunately, not be easy. But as we say down here in Peckham, 'he who dares...'

Apologies for language.

15 May 2009 at 14:18  
Anonymous Anguished Soul said...

Excellent post, Your Grace.

I like Dave, but fear he is too nice for his own good and he is certainly no Margaret Thatcher. There's too much shilly-shallying about in the Conservative party and they need to be a bit more ruthless. Let them set a good example by starting with their own.

15 May 2009 at 14:53  
Blogger McKenzie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

15 May 2009 at 15:02  
Anonymous Voyager said...

The Commons Fees Office should be abolished and replaced with an HMRC Inspectorate to ensure full conformity with the tax code and rescind the 2003 Exemption MPs enjoy.

The Pension Plan should be wound up and MPs forced to undertake Money Purchase plans.

IF Cameron does not make these Manifesto Commitments he will face street violence as the economy unravels over the coming 3-5 years with inflation and stagnation as the banks soak up capital and destroy the real economy and the savings of the public.

The Mid-Terms in the USA should show Obama how the public feels, but Cameron will not be able to buy off a large majority as Blair did with Super-Sleaze and Smash-and-Grab Expense Wheezes so he will have a party management problem and very angry grass roots

15 May 2009 at 16:23  
Anonymous not a machine said...

At first i couldnt quite believe it , but the claiming for a non existant home is , beyond a mistake , after watching last nights question time i wonder if they really understand , what labours palace of spin has created ??

15 May 2009 at 17:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you don't really like him then?

15 May 2009 at 18:04  
Anonymous Katy said...

Blaming the fees office for responding to a query is like blaming Luther's theses for the Reformation. I think the query came first, no?

What I don't get is, where is the HMRC response to this? An employer can pay whatever expenses it likes, whether they ultimately fall to be taxed or not; what I want to know is, that they have been paying tax on those expenses paid out which do not meet the 'wholly, necessarily and exclusively' rule as laid down in ITEPA. The media seem focussed on the 'necessarily' test while missing the 'exclusively' rule which precludes any expense that has a duality of purpose from being tax-exempt. If any of them so much as slept in their second homes, they were not working at the time.

15 May 2009 at 19:26  
Blogger Paul Halsall said...

If Mackay is so bad, what does it say about Cameron that he had him as a "close adviser"?

15 May 2009 at 19:40  
Blogger ZZMike said...

I haven't seen such passionate and wrathful writing since our own Thomas Paine.

As for the Members, the image of "feeding at the public trough" comes to mind. As does the rest of that image.

The only conclusion is that these people - Mr MacKay in particular - are somewhere between immoral and amoral.

It's obvious that a second home may be necessary (especially if you're the member from Orkney). Our chaps have the same arrangement. It's also obvious that the Government may have to subsidise that, as your meager salary might not cover it. But to claim two separate homes as "second residences", when they know bloody well that one would have done, or that one was obviously the primary (unless they're not particularly fond of one another - and given this view of Mr MacKay, quite understandable) shows clearly that their moral compass is several points short of a rose.

I think Katy may be missing the point on whether things are taxable or not. It isn't a matter of avoiding taxes, it's a matter of outright cheating. As our gracious host reported:

"While she designated one home her second residence, he designated their other home as his second residence. They therefore had no primary home,..."

One of our principles of law is the "prudent man" test (which we probably got from your Common Law). It holds that if you did something that a prudent man would not do (usually in connection with investments), then you're at fault, and can be held liable for any losses.

In this case, any prudent man would realize that the "two-home swindle" was far from prudent, in respect to the country's treasury - and ultimately to the citizen taxpayers (many of whom, I believe, do not have a subsidised second home).

I suspect that a few members ay have an interesting election campaign next time around.

(How often do you get to elect these brilliant, thrifty, compassionate people?)

15 May 2009 at 21:00  
Anonymous Katy said...

I didn't miss the point at all - in this instance there's no question that there cannot be two second homes, with no primary home. What I want to know is how come they're claiming for trivia on top - bathplugs etc - and yet no word on whether this has been taxed?

15 May 2009 at 22:43  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

Your dis-Grace,
'The Rt Hon Andrew MacKay MP is not a pleasant face.' Well, you have changed your tune since 'Susan Boyle - for those who judge by appearances' (April 14th).

15 May 2009 at 23:52  
Blogger Tim Footman said...

Might your loathing of Mr McKay have anything to do with his role in the deselection of the Conservative candidate for Slough before the 2005 election?

16 May 2009 at 06:18  
Blogger Gnostic said...

O/T, Your Grace, but perhaps worth investigating? I've heard a rumour that Frank Field might replace Gorbals Mick as speaker.

If it's true then amen to that!

16 May 2009 at 09:21  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Rottenborough,

His Grace is not judging merely by appearances, he assures you.

Mr Footman,

You may very well think that. His Grace could not possibly comment.

Mr Gnostic,

As welcome as that would be, it is highly unlikely that the Commons would countenance three Labour speakers in succession. The convention used to be to alternate between the two main parties. Two sequential Labour speakers has been anomalous. It is likely to be a Conservative (Sir George Young) or a LibDem (Ming Campbell).

16 May 2009 at 09:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace - now former priest Chris Bryant MP is in on the act.

A post on this hypocrite, please!

16 May 2009 at 13:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am quite genuinely puzzled by this outburst of Your Grace.
Has he hurt you personally by any chance?
Are you afraid to say out loud that he is the new Alistair Campbell?
This really isn't like you.

16 May 2009 at 19:55  
Anonymous Bethel said...

As a woman,I think AM's wife is very brave to have had children with him. There's no accounting for taste, Your Grace.

17 May 2009 at 14:17  
Anonymous otacilia severa said...

Bethel: She probably thought he was going to become a Cabinet Minister, that being married to him would advance her own social and political ambitions, and that she could not do any better. It is not an unusual basis for choosing a husband. Most of us, however, accept someone who at least has the appearance and manners of a gentleman rather than those of a semi-housetrained ferret.

20 May 2009 at 11:50  

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