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Posts Tagged ‘expenses’

Is Tony McNulty ‘starting to be reintegrated into polite society?

Ross Lydall, reporting on London’s battleground seats for the Evening Standard, certainly thinks so.

In his report, which you can read in full here, he notes McNulty’s expenses record has not featured heavily on the doorstep (despite nationally voters making it a central campaign issue).

Lydall highlights visits to the constituency from Labour topdogs David Miliband and Alan Johnson and the eleventh hour decision to find the funding for the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, which saved McNulty from a potentially life-threatening independent challenge.

Focusing on Bob Blackman, Lydall quotes the Tory candidate as saying: “I have done my apprenticeship” and places him as raring for the contest next week. But Lydall adds that the former Brent councillor and four times parliamentary candidate has many enemies.

For our reading pleasure, Lydall has even added to the online version a link to the comments on his blog by said enemies.

So is McNulty back and will voters focus on his local record rather than the national profile which was so elevated by last year’s expenses scandal? With eight days to go, it’s anyones guess.

One thing that will probably help McNulty pick up some support is his signature on the pledge to oppose a fee rise for students.

The NUS campaign has attracted support from more than 1,000 candidates of all parties, including fellow Labour bigwigs Phil Woolas and Roberta Blackman-woods, an aide to universities minister David Lammy.

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More from those rabble rousers POWER2010. Following on from the launch of their ‘Wanted’ poster campaign last week, they’ve published a letter decrying Harrow East MP Tony NcNulty.

Writes Pam Giddy, the director of POWER2010:

“After months of sleaze and scandal the coming general election at last provides an opportunity to vote out those MPs who have badly let us down.”

Needless to say, Tony McNulty tops that list in her view because he ‘tried to hide his expenses from his constituents by voting to exempt Parliament from Freedom of Information’, and because of those expenses claims in the first place.

Giddy adds that McNulty’s behaviour was made worse by his Home Office history, where as a minister he had ‘championed policies, such as ID cards, designed to track, monitor and control the population’.

She says the campaign to start the reform of Parliament begins right here in Harrow East and explains why this MP has been selected as the ‘first target in a nationwide effort’.

“He has consistently stood for the old top-down politics of command and control and against reforms like a democratic House of Lords.”

But to soften the blow, Giddy ends with ‘best wishes’.

Probably not much consolation to McNulty. I wonder if he’ll offer up any reply to these mischief-makers.

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Harrow East MP Tony McNulty gets a none too favourable mention in Richard Littlejohn’s Daily Mail column today.

Writing about the ‘sense of injustice’ felt by the three Labour MPs and Tory peer who faced a magistrate yesterday for charges of defrauding the taxpayer, Littlejohn noted:

“But the vast majority of those exposed for fiddling their second home allowances have escaped scot-free.”

He added: “For instance, how have Jackboot Jacqui, who claimed her sister’s spare bedroom was her ‘main’ residence, and former minister Tony McNulty, who pretended to be living in his parents’ home, managed to avoid having their collars felt?”

How indeed?

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There’s a new campaign poster in town, and something tells me Harrow East Mp Tony McNulty isn’t going to like it. That’s because the poster says he is Wanted ‘for Crimes Against Democracy’.  

He’s the first MP to be targeted in a campaign launched by pressure group Power2010, which calls for the identification of “the dinosaurs in Parliament who tell us reform isn’t needed, whilst clinging to their perks and privileges”. 

Harrow East? More like Harrow Western (film)

 

 McNulty is clearly seen as the T-Rex ofWestminster for his role in the expenses scandal.   

Last year the MP resigned from his ministerial post amidst allegations of his abuse of second home allowances and then paid back more than £13,000.   

 Power 2010 are inviting angry voters to nominate their errant politicians

They say: “Our aim is for a list of MPs from all major parties who we will then call out for their “crimes against democracy” and launch major campaigns in their constituencies, highlighting their poor record on democratic reform and civil liberties.”  

They intend to plaster the Wanted posters around the constituency and target swing voters with leaflets featuring McNulty’s “opposition to a cleaned up reformed politics.”  

It’s a stunt guaranteed to get some attention, but whether it will change any minds if a different matter? What do you think, Harrow?

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National politics came to Stanmore yesterday as commentators gathered at North London Collegiate School (NLCS) to discuss expenses, private education and John Terry’s future on a BBC Radio 4 programme.

The girls school was the site of the topical radio show ‘Any Questions’, hosted by Jonathan Dimbleby. Panelists, including Benedict Brogan, the Daily Telegraph’s chief political commentator, and former NLCS pupil, entertainer and now idenepedent parliamentary candidate, Esther Rantzen, discussed a range of current news issues.

Much time was spent looking at the revelations earlier that day that three Labour MPs and a Conservative peer would face criminal charges for fraudulent expenses claims.

The guests, also including the onetime Lib Dem Mayoral candidate Brian Paddick, faced questions on the role of private education in the twenty-first century.

When Dimbleby turned the question around and asked a student what her views were, she admitted that she was unsure, but ‘my parents made the decision’. Both Brogan and Ranzten defended the place of private schools.

Listen to the full broadcast here.

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Tony McNulty never contemplated stepping down after last year’s expenses scandal.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Stanmore Politics, the Harrow East MP said that despite resigning from his ministerial position after he was found claiming second-home expenses for a house his parents lived in, he never considered not contesting the seat in 2010.

 Mr McNulty, who was elected when New Labour entered power in 1997, said:

“I didn’t ever consider standing down. I don’t mean that in an arrogant way.”

 He said he wanted to let the people of Harrow decide based on his record as MP, adding that he resigned as employment minister because it was unfair to continue in the post whilst the parliamentary investigation was underway.

 The MP, who has a majority of 4,730, said he had no complaint with the media about the coverage of the expenses scandal. He said

“It was perfectly reasonable for there to be such scrutiny”.

 Discussing the events while in his Westminster office, the walls decorated with posters of past American presidential campaigns, he said the overall political system was rotten.

 “There was a degree of groupthink, collectively from MPs about the nature of the system. If I have any complaint about the coverage of expenses, it’s that the starting premise is that every MP is wrong until they prove otherwise.

 “We may have brought that on to ourselves. I can understand that too.”

 He said he accepted responsibility for his role in the scandal, and said that MPs should have been more transparent about the information.

 “We should have dealt with the whole issue much, much earlier.”

 Mr McNulty said the toughest time over nearly thirteen years in office had been the decision to go to war with Iraq. But the MP, who supported the war, said he stood by his decision and believes the fighting in Afghanistan is justified.

“I weighed up the pros and cons either way, first and foremost as an individual not as a government minister. If I’d arrived at the opposite decision then I’d have done the decent thing and stepped down.

“Given all the information at the time it was the right decision. History is replete with people looking back with 20/20 hindsight. Afghanistan is a place that we should be and good work is being done there.”

The former immigration minister denied that Labour policies in this area had boosted the BNP. He said:

 “BNP members clearly dislike black or brown faces full stop, they’re not saying you’re a third generation Asian so you’re OK, they’re against black and brown people.

 “There has been a failing over the last ten or twenty years, not just under Labour, that takes away the legitimate identity, particularly from white working class.”

Following the official opening of the Hindu Krishna-Avanti Primary School in Harrow, Mr McNulty said faith schools were a good thing and he did not accept they were divisive. Although Labour has long been criticised for its attitude towards faith schools, the MP said this was a debate within all parties.

 He said he felt he had lived up to his commitment in his maiden speech to improve education in Harrow, adding that he was committed to securing funding for the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.

 Last month its medical director made headlines by announcing he might contest the next election if the money was not allocated. But Mr McNulty said he understood Professor Tim Briggs’s frustration.

 “Tim is a passionate man, absolutely committed to the hospital. I’ve said to Tim that if he stands against me that’s entirely a matter for him.

 “I will see through successfully the funding of the hospital because it’s the right thing to do, not because Tim wants to stand against me. That’s entirely a matter for him.

 The MP would not even entertain the prospect of losing a fourth term in office. But he said if the council elections coincide with the general election by falling on May 6th – “I have to put the caveat there, but I assume it is” – the results would be interesting.

 “On a 60 or 70 per cent turnout there might be some strange ward based results throughout Harrow. I’m predicting that Stanmore Park and Canons are to go Labour.”

 He said it was ‘a real possibility’ that Harrow council would swing to Labour, but admitted that not having a working website, as Stanmore Politics reported here last week, was not helpful.

 “I do take the point,” he said. “I will look into it.”

 Having just joined Twitter, although not yet active on the site, Mr McNulty was positive about the role of blogging in political campaign. But he reserved no praise for fellow Harrow politician, (Conservative PPC for Harrow West) Rachel Joyce’s efforts.

 “It’s quite a tedious blog though isn’t it.”

Read the full interview here

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Spurred on by the news that an aggrieved doctor may mount an electoral challenge to my local MP I have decided to create a new Stanmore-centric political blog.

In the run up to the 2010 general election I will look at the political issues that impact my ward (Stanmore Park), my borough (Harrow) and the constituency (Harrow East) in general.

Harrow has been hitting the headlines in the last year not least because the local MP is Tony McNulty, who became a very public name during last year’s expenses scandal when he was ordered to repay ten grand for claiming his parents house as a second-home, when it was just eight km away.

McNulty has a majority of 4,700 and the seat is an interesting one; traditionally Conservative held, McNulty entered with New Labour in 1997 and has held a series of ministerial posts since, most prominently as Home Office and Employment Minister.

Given his fortunes have linked firmly to Labour’s in general (he won fewer votes in 2005 than 2001) Harrow East is an interesting constituency to study as a microcosm for the election as a whole.

Over the next few months I hope to highlight news and views of interest, get in touch with political figures in the area and find what Stanmore and the rest of the constituency think about them.

Who knows what will happen at the election and after. I don’t, but I can’t wait to find out.

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