Why Maria Miller and other politicians just don't get it, by Stephanie Anne Lloyd
First a quick recap of the story. After all the scandal about MPs' claims for duck houses and other nefarious items, Maria Miller's fraudulent claim, failure to co-operate with the subsequent enquiry and infamous 30-second apology beggars belief, as does David Cameron's continued support of her.
Let's strip away all the fancy surroundings: she stole money from taxpayers. Now, in contrast, when I caught a maintenance man fiddling his expenses, he was dismissed for gross misconduct and convicted in court, yet he only stole several hundred pounds. Maria Miller MP was adjudged to have claimed expenses for a 'second home' which in fact was a home for her parents. She bought this house in 1996 for £234,000 and it is now valued in excess of a million pounds.
Despite impeding the investigation she was found to have over-claimed a staggering £44,000 by the Commissioner for Standards, who had spent 14 months on her investigation to reach this decision. A committee made up of MPs from the three main parties subsequently decided her fraud was 'unintentional' and reduced this to £5,800 and ordered her to apologise for her attitude. And she got to keep her job as an MP.
Now as a member of the cabinet, you would think she would have been ecstatic to have escaped so lightly, but no, she gave a 30-second apology in the House of Commons that sounded insulting to even her Conservative peers who all listened in stony silence.
Surely, knowing that she was responsible for press regulation following the Leveson Enquiry, she could foresee the subsequent media outcry, but day after day even with the Tory-leaning press calling for her resignation she clung to her job, supported throughout by David Cameron. What everyone else in the country saw - with the sole exception of other MPs - was that her position was simply untenable and she should resign.
The only party leader to call for her resignation was Nigel Farage, demonstrating again how the Westminster establishment stick together and fail to see how life is for the constituents they are supposed to represent. MPs of all parties seem to live on a different planet. They cannot appreciate how galling it is for families - struggling through the longest recession in a generation to survive and pay income tax, national insurance and 20 per cent VAT - to see how politicians use our hard-earned money to enrich themselves or their buddies.
After holding out for day after day of relentless bad press, Ms Miller eventually was forced to resign from her cabinet post and our Prime Minister stated that he was sad to see her go. Now I can't speak on your behalf but I for one don't want any politician who fiddles their expenses on our payroll. She and any other MP of any party should resign as an MP if they are guilty of any offence for which you and I would lose our jobs.
What we need is principled MPs who work honestly to deliver on their election promises. We don't need so many of them - one per county would be plenty - provide them with a one-bedroom flat in a tower block that we own and get any capital gains benefit on, and reimburse them only on the same basis that HMRC applies to the rest of us, supported by receipts.
Why do we subsidise their bars, allowing MPs to enjoy the cheapest prices for alcohol in the UK? I thought the government was telling us to drink less!
Now for MEPs who really do enjoy a ride on the gravy train. They can claim for first class flights when they use Ryanair, daily allowances even if they just sign in and then disappear. MEPs from the poorest countries enjoy the same salary and benefits as the Germans - Europe's richest country – do.
Because France insists, we have EU headquarters in both Brussels and Strasbourg, duplicating the costs. Spain has the right idea, they claim all of the benefits and ignore most of the legislation. They are still busy building EU-funded projects most of which make no financial sense
So which party and MP should our readers vote for? I honestly don't know: they all make promises ahead of elections and then forget all about us for another five years.
I despair as I see the huge waste of money at every level of government. When we as the Llangollen/Corwen Partnership Group, successfully lobbied for free parking for people attending the doctors surgery, Denbighshire County Council erected 10 posts and signs where just one with two arrows would have been more than adequate.
The core problem is they're spending our money and not their own so whether it is your council, The Welsh Assembly, Westminster or the Scottish Parliament you can be sure it will cost more than if you and I were doing it.
It was my pleasure and privilege to work alongside Ian Parry (former Town Clerk for Llangollen) and Jeremy Knibbs (DCC) demonstrating that there are decent hard working civic employees. Together we brought Stan's Stores to Llangollen and kept Dobson & Crowther as local employers while making sure the proposed supermarket gave 10 undertakings to ensure that it would benefit the town and high street instead of destroying it as they have in so many small communities.
Local governance does really work: we need less top down and more local, honest hardworking citizens taking responsibility for their own community. Only local volunteers will regenerate the canal to Cefn Mawr and similar projects could be promoted across all towns and villages if politicians would devolve more to local representatives who are best placed to know what their local needs really are.
The letter you ought to have received from David Cameron, penned instead by Stephanie Anne Lloyd
We know that you have all given willingly to disaster and charity appeals but we as your government thought that, as the economy is doing so well nowadays, hospitals are awash with money and A&E departments are treating everyone within 30 seconds of arrival that we would give away 0.7% of our entire annual national GDP to overseas deserving countries in need of our financial help.
Although totalling a few billion, there is no-one in the UK who needs any more money! The old are overfed and too warm here in sunny Britain, unlike those poor people forced to live in the Bahamas and Barbados, so we have sent them a ton of dosh so they can keep warm too. Other deserving countries are our close friend and allies, North Korea, Iran and Zimbabwe who we know will use the money we send then to look after their impoverished people. We fully trust them not to spend our (sorry your) money on nasty nuclear weapons or to discriminate against our great British citizens. We have bunged quite a lot of money to China and India too, because not only have they got costly nuclear weapons to look after but we need to help them get to the moon. With our help and leaked technology secrets from American do-gooders (we have stopped using the demeaning title of ‘spy’ as it is so 1960s) China has already managed it. if we hadn't included Pakistan then they would have been upset and they were so helpful in keeping Osama Bin Laden safely in one place so that the USA could capture him, plus them taking in the Taliban from Afghanistan. Speaking of Afghanistan, we have not left them out either, in fact we have spent tens of billions there. Although we have invaded three times and lost three times, we have taken encouragement from Lord Melchard of Blackadder and hope that they won't expect us to do it again so maybe next time we will win!
We had quite a regatta around the Falklands a few years ago, such fun with the chance to try out our new war toys and despite the Argentineans sneakily buying Exocet missiles from the French and sinking our ships, we bear no resentment so year after year send them our money so they can replace that rather expensive weaponry with souped up newer versions which next time round will give them a real fighting chance. How could Brazil stage a World Cup Tournament without foreign aid? They couldn't I hear you say so we send them money every year so they can and also continue to grow those delicious nuts that we eat at Christmas. And how would civil wars continue without us giving aid to the participants? They would run out of bullets were it not for our (sorry your) generosity!
So there you have it. The UK doesn't need any more money – we are only £1.25 trillion in debt, so why not splash a few billion on worthy overseas causes? I know that you think that I have spent your £137 donation wisely just like the last government did.
NOTE FROM EDITOR - The references to the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan wars reflects badly on our politicians, but I must express my respect to all our armed forces who have obeyed orders and fought courageously. My deepest sympathy goes out to the families of those who lost their lives and to those now forced to come to terms with life altering injuries. They really are true heroes.
by Stephanie Anne Lloyd
They go together like a horse and carriage, or so the song says, but remember on long journeys the horses are changed to fresh ones at staging posts. There is a mismatch between the sexual appetite of men and women. Both genders sexual desires are governed primarily by the hormone testosterone and men just have a lot more of it. Whereas a woman’s sexual desire is aroused by affection and foreplay, varies with age, periods, post natal hormone imbalances, a man just thinks about sex almost continuously and after a few drinks any willing woman with a pulse is irresistible. From puberty onwards his brain is hard-wired to his penis and just the sight of a female in a short skirt or with plenty of cleavage is enough to trigger lustful desires
Men are simply not programmed to handle long term commitment of a sexual nature. What a man really wants is to have his cake but be able to nibble at others now and again. All they need is the opportunity, Dutch courage (alcohol) and their little brain whirrs into action over-riding their big brain. Just look at the high profile men laid low by an indiscretion becoming public. They will still want their partner to stand by them because they don’t usually want to leave the marital home especially if children are involved. What they really want is a mother, homemaker, a housekeeper and babysitter who becomes a whore as soon as she enters the bedroom. With the realisation that this is a long-term impossibility they resort to spice up their life with other. Commitment is just not a male trait and because they are able to live their lives in separate unconnected boxes, men avoid the guilt and anguish that a wife would feel. There is no sense of betrayal because immediately after sex all he wants to do is go home
The true sense of whether any man truly loves you, especially after a long relationship is summed up by your answers to the following questions. Does he do spontaneous romantic things? Does he make sure that you are fully sexually satisfied first? After he has reached his sexual climax and ejaculated does he still want to snuggle and cuddle you? Is he just as affectionate after sex than as before? Does he want to go to sleep and wake up with you in his arms? Is he still as affectionate when you wake up? If you can truthfully answer all in the affirmative, then never let him go because men like that are like a diamond, a girl’s best friend and very rare and valuable.
Most men are doomed to fail in enduring satisfying relationships, there are those who for religious reasons stay faithful and also those with a lower than normal sex drive. The golden rule is that the more successful a man is, the higher his sex drive is likely to be. This is because testosterone also provides the drive to succeed. The good news is that testosterone levels decrease quite rapidly from the age of 30, so they tend to become more faithful as they age.
Women of the world you have a far harder life, if you just knew how easy a man’s life really is you would weep. While you are trying to squeeze a baby’s head out of an opening far too small he will have been boasting about his prowess and hinting at the enormous size of his penis which for the record will never be as big as a baby’s head. They will boast that their 5 inches is really 9 inches (this is what causes women to misjudge whilst reversing to park a car). Don’t they realise it’s the girth not the length that matters!
Now here’s what you need to do if it’s not too late:
Don’t chase him, men are hunters and want to catch and seduce you
Don’t have sex too soon, men like a challenge and the vision is always more interesting than the actuality so reel him in slowly
Men do not want to marry promiscuous women especially if they have slept with his mates
Do not question him too closely about what he has been doing, he will start lying as men need some space they call their own
Do not talk about moving in together, weddings, children etc. Commitment scares men, they need time to think it was their idea
Be unavailable sometimes, don’t let him think that you are sitting there waiting for the phone to ring. Washing your hair works well
Do not let him change you. If he tries he really wants someone else
Do not get involved with a controlling, jealous or violent man
Do not get involved with any man that spends most of his time in a pub or takes drugs
Don’t settle for second best, if and when true love arrives you will know, so many women end up with second best.
You will remember anniversaries of the first time you kissed, made love, got married etc. so find a subtle way to remind him as surely as eggs are eggs he will forget.
Do not try and change him, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then that is what you are going to get, so get real and move on quickly
Best wishes in finding your very own true soul mate.
National, regional and local government need to act!
Predictably my Common-Sense Manifesto in the last issue resulted in a huge response, most of it supportive. Since then we have heard George Osborne’s spending review, announcing another £11.5 billion pounds worth of cuts, but instead of surreptitiously closing local amenities our politicians at every level (including councillors) should be cutting out the huge sums of money they waste both on themselves and their pet projects.
We do not need them to duplicate the private sector. We need and want good schools, excellent healthcare, our roads maintained and the basic services provided by the state, no more and no less. The Corwen/Llangollen Partnership of which I was a member fought and gained 10 free car parking spaces for the local medical centre, but what happened next typifies the huge waste of money and resources that councils of all colours seem to indulge in. You or I would have erected one sign in the centre with arrows left and right stating that these 10 spaces were free to patients visiting the doctors, but not Denbighshire County Council, they erected 10 posts with 10 signs.
I didn’t go to public school and only had what was once called a State Secondary School, but I learnt the common sense that most citizens did and part of that was to look at every job to see if a cheaper or simple solution to any problem was feasible. I grew up during the war rationing with the same ‘make do and mend’ mentality that my generation and those previously thought was normal. Back then we concentrated on the necessities of life and, apart from a mortgage, most people did not have access to credit. There were no social services or benefits. State services were there to provide the basic services like water, electricity and road maintenance. In no way am I calling for a halt to progress, providing we receive either improved services or through greater efficiency lower rates and taxes.
We now live in an age where I cannot ask an employee to change a light bulb unless they have had ladder training or pick up a box without manual handling training. I don’t remember us requiring special training for everyday issues. Most of us survived and didn’t stand in a bucket of water when fitting an electrical plug as it was just common sense!
Wherever I drive, I am amazed at the plethora of signage. Why do we need pre-warning signs for speed limits? I know the simple rule that the more white paint there is on the road the more careful you should be but is there really a need for so many warning and informational signs? Surely we just risk distracting drivers? I know if a vehicle has sirens and blue flashing lights that it is an emergency and I should pull over. I simply do not need a back-to-front ‘ambulance’ sign for my rear-view mirror!
I do not want to be given 12 automated options when some council office deigns to answer the phone. I want a human being who can direct me to the right person. Is it a sign of age that makes one start to question what is happening around you?
Health and Safety is the scourge of any small business. Environmental Health is the nightmare of supermarkets and hotels that they target because officers know they will get cooperation, whereas a back street curry house serving cat and dog will be a nightmare to deal with so they avoid them. Is it that I am growing more cynical with every passing year or are our beloved civil servants (who are not often civil and certainly do not display a servile manner) getting carried away with the minutiae of the law rather than the spirit in which it was drafted?
How is it that we are unable to deport a convicted Somali rapist, yet can do so with an Australian citizen whose only crime was to protest during the Annual Boat Race? (Which incidentally I find boring as only Oxford or Cambridge ever win it!) Why does someone who is a drug addict get a council home and benefits while not working? If you haven’t seen the excellent comedy series The Big Job you need to watch it as it looks uncannily like a true reflection of what goes on much as Yes Minister did.
Well, at least I have an outlet for my personal views and I hope, at least in part, they reflect those of the millions of other hard-working people out there including you.
Page 1 of 2