Julie Kirkbride, the disgraced Conservative MP forced to stand down for pocketing staggering sums of money by fiddling her expenses, has decided that actually she’d like to stay. So far, it looks like the Conservative leadership are going to let her give it a shot.
To recap, Ms Kirkbride took £50,000 to fund an extension to one of her houses, specifically so her brother could live in it. In case you can’t understand what’s wrong this this, it’s because she was claiming a massive amount of public money to spend on her brother – her allowance was to help her do her job, not make her family more comfortable.
Ms Kirkbride also, yes there’s more, she also took £170,000 of expenses with her husband by both claiming different homes as their primary residence. Now this is wrong because her husband and her lived together yet were claiming different houses as primary residences, specifically so they could pocket as much public money as possible.
The idea that after this, Ms Kirkbride could say ‘whoops, not a big deal’ is farcical. Does she think that politics is a game, or that ordinary people’s opinions aren’t important? Ms Kirkbride was totally and utterly in the wrong, that other MPs also cheated the taxpayer is no defence – this is old ground, we’ve already covered it.
Yet Ms Kirkbride clearly feels that it is her God-given right to be an MP, and she obviously hasn’t acknowledged the scale of her actions. A resignation should be precisely that.
You’d think that David Cameron wouldn’t want to risk her coming back, his tough stance has helped the public’s perception of him. But reportedly when he told his Commons ally Andrew McKay to stand down for his expenses claims, he promised to help Ms Kirkbride remain.
If the Tories have her on the ticket at the next election, they’ll fritter away a massive amount of capital they gained by promising to be open about their intentions and transparent in their dealings. Because Mrs Kirkbride wasn’t, and not even the resignation was real.