Tuesday, 9 June 2009

The Swedish duck island could be yours!

The Telegraph has flogged the MPs' expenses story to death, temporarily boosting sales but discrediting their broadsheet reputation in the process. Obviously there's a serious issue underlying all the tabloid-style vendettas - the expenses system is badly broken and needs a complete overhaul.

The story has also had serious consequences - only 35% of registered voters bothered to turn out at the European elections last week, either through apathy or through some misguided idea of protest. The result is that the hateful BNP are now stronger than ever - hopefully their success will horrify people enough to get them to the polling station for the general election, when it's finally called.

But amid the claims of second home flipping and high cleaning bills, some humour has shone through. You can't help but be amused by Sir Peter Viggers, Conservative representative for Gosport, who tried to claim for the cost of a £1,645 Swedish duck island at his second home. The claim was quite rightly turned down by the expenses office (not much of a story there then), and Viggers, who paid for it himself, sheepishly admitted that the ducks hadn't liked it anyway and it was now in storage (the Telegraph had tracked down satellite photos of his pond, showing it was no longer there).

Now, the MP has declared that he will auction the duck island for charity. He might be leaving parliament at the next election but at least some ducks, somewhere, will get a shiny new home to call their own.

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