The voters of Oldham and Saddleworth have made it clear what they believe in. They went to the polls on Thursday in a by-election and voted for the Labour party, two of whose members have been gaoled for financial corruption in the last fortnight.
Eric Illsley was convicted two days before the election, and found guilty of financial fraud. The court decided that he fiddled fourteen thousand pounds by making false declarations on his Commons expenses account. At first he did not even have the decency to resign, and was cheekily turning up to take his seat in the House.
Only the week before, another Labour M.P. David Chaytor, was convicted of fraudulently claiming an even greater sum from M.P.'s expenses. This was not a moment of weakness in an otherwise blameless career. Chaytor fiddled systematically for years before he was caught. He too has been gaoled. Shameless to the end, he and Illsley claimed huge amounts of legal aid to conduct their defence. Not satisfied with embezzling fourteen thousand here or there, they were intent on costing the public even more money.
The voters of Oldham knew this, or they certainly should have known it. They had every opportunity to read the newspapers, watch TV news, listen to the radio or follow the stories on the internet. How did they react?
In the most perverse possible fashion, they voted for Labour with a higher majority than before!!!
Who came second? The Libdems, whose MP David Laws resigned a few months ago having been found making improper expenses claims in the same great parliamentary tradition. Did Laws ever return the money? Not so far as I have heard.
There is only one conclusion that we can draw. The people of Oldham like criminal behaviour. They want to be ruled by cheats and crooks who are on the gravy train and only in politics for what they can squeeze out of it. They want to be represented by thieves and ruled by criminals. Oldham has voted for corruption. The trouble is that when they vote for it, we all suffer.
Lenten Meditations: Saturday 25 March
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