The Green Party are campaigning hard as the transparent, sleaze-free, squeaky-clean, anti-expenses party. Their anti-fat cat leaflet caught my eye (see below), so I went off to check out the expenses of my Green MEP (and the Green’s leader), Caroline Lucas.
To quote a Green Party leaflet I received this week:“We offer a positive alternative for everyone who is angry about the expenses scandals in Westminster and Brussels.”
Caroline Lucas MEP’s Salary and Expenses for 2008*
|Personal Travel Allowance:**||(€4,000)||£3,505|
|Caroline Lucas’s 2008 Total:||£305,589|
Hurrah for transparency! Good old Greens. No more fat cats! Caroline Lucas MEP only cost us £300k in 2008! And she’s been our MEP for 10 years… you do the maths.
Let’s look a little harder. The Daily Allowance covers, according to Dr Lucas’s website “away from home expenses such as hotel rooms and/or flat rental, meals etc. No receipts are required as this is a lump-sum payment, made if they sign the official register or the attendance list at the official meeting.” All the emphases are hers. That’s right, no receipts are required. In March 2009, the Observer published a picture of her pretty smart looking three-storey family home in Brussels if you’re interested.
Regarding the Secretarial Allowance, Dr Lucas’s website is also keen to point out: There is no requirement to present full accounts. (Again, the emboldening of the text is her emphasis from her website.)
I first saw these costs today (29/05/09). They weren’t there when I looked at the page earlier in the week. Check out the cached page from May 25th here. Spot the differences? Yes, the difference is Caroline Lucas has only started disclosing her full expenses in the past few days. She didn’t start publishing them until people started asking!
Eddie Mair, as he introduced Lucas on Radio 4’s Any Questions 22/05/09 said: “there’s a breakdown of all her spending on her website and an explanation of those MEP allowances that used to so annoy voters before they heard what MPs at Westminster were up to.” (And Lucas didn’t object.) But last Friday, most of the costs I’ve quoted weren’t there. The page in question is a discreet backwater of her website. Is she hoping noone will notice?
Caroline Lucas MEP: “I have long called for the introduction of an efficient, fair and transparent system for reimbursing members’ expenses.” I look forward to receipts and full accounts.
The Green Party propaganda is clear: the Greens are squeaky clean, glassy transparent and not on the Bisto Express. But doesn’t the new politics the Green Party offer us look rather like the old politics we all want to see the back of?
N.B. I’m no Lois Lane. I’m not even a journalist. If I’ve got my facts wrong, set me straight.
*I think this info is presented more transparently than on the website. Nice table, no?
**The website is unclear whether this fee was claimed in 2008. However, previously it has been used to fly (yes, on a plane) to Gaza. Yes, on one of those planes the Greens tell us we shouldn’t fly on.
Disclosure: I’m a pretty pissed off rank and file member of the Labour Party. I hold no position or post in the party. And, frankly, I’d slap Hazel Blears if I met her in the street. I would.