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The three people who should run the new audit body…

May 10th, 2009 Posted in UK Politics by


On Monday, MPs will be asked to support a new body to independently audit Parliamentarians’ expenses. To be remotely credible, the body will have to run by hard-edged, no-nonsense types who the public would trust to keep a close eye on any and all misconduct. We could do a lot worse than getting the three people pictured above to head up the body.

They are  – from left to right – Paul Staines (aka Guido Fawkes), Heather Brooke (whose legal challenges have opened up the whole can of worms) and Matthew Elliott (chief exec of the Taxpayers Alliance). They all have a track record of being on the side of the public on this issue – and 100% against politicians feathering their own nests at your and my expense. The major problem is that all three of them are probably too principled to accept some cushy salary in the public sector.

It’s much more likely that the new body will be run by a bunch of supine old farts in wigs, tights and buckled shoes. When that happens, expect public confidence in our Parliamentarians to fall further still.


33 Responses to “The three people who should run the new audit body…”

  1. David Hodge Says:

    I would go for Guido Fawkes & Mattthew Elliot. But for our Heather I hope the Queen will make her a Baroness. Once Heather is in the House of Lords then she will sort that lot out.

  2. Stu Says:

    Or how about forget the regulatory body and just publish all receipts online 7 days after they are filed?

    Then Guido, Heather, et al have oversight over expenses and we don’t need to pay anyone a cushy salary. Plus, it’s incorruptible because the raw information is public.

    Openness, eh. Seems to solve a multitude of problems all at once…

  3. Charlotte Gore Says:

    Oh this so reminds me of certain episodes of Yes, Minister.

  4. Guy Says:

    Not bad for starters,although I think Guido would be best left to do what he does best.

  5. Daniel Earwicker Says:

    We need those people on the outside of the tent, pissing in.

  6. Daniel Earwicker Says:

    @Charlotte Gore – yes, what we need to get to the bottom of this expenses scandal is for Heather Brooke to be sent on a six month fact-finding mission to the Bahamas, to see how they deal with government corruption.

  7. Pug Says:

    How about each MP’s expense claim should be reviewed and approved by his constituency chairman?

    Or even better- each MP has to have his expenses approved by an MP from another party…

  8. Darrell Says:

    Guido Fawkes should be let nowhere near any serious attempt at overseeing anything. The notion he should be is risable in itself; being a popularist demagogue doesnt qualify you for a serious role in politics. Heather Brooke and Matthew Elliot are more credible because they have expertise beyond running the online equivilent of The Sun…

  9. Mark Littlewood Says:

    I think there’s a good case that expense claims should be made public in advance of being paid. Each and every receipt will be on a website accessible by all memebrs of the public. There will be 28 days for complaints against meeting the claim to be made to the fees office. Of course, the fees office should turn down oitrageous claims anyway…but to allow constituents to flag up complaints BEFORE the MP gets any money would help.

  10. Alix Says:

    Guido yes, Heather Brooks double yes, but please spare us Matthew Elliot. Man’s a tit. How about someone from the audit/tax/finance world? Richard Murphy?

  11. Paul Embery Says:

    The rent-a-quote Taxpayer Alliance representatives are given far too much media space. Who elected them? Who are they accountable to?

    They are a small pressure group, pursuing a very obvious political agenda.

    Why are trade unions – some of which represent close to a million members – marginalised by the mainstream press, but the Taxpayers Alliance indulged so much?

  12. Mark Littlewood Says:

    I think the answer to Paul’s point is that the TPA are bloody good at generating hard-hitting, newsworthy stories. The mainstream media don’t hand out proportional column inches based on the size of your membership list…

  13. Tez Burke Says:

    the TPA are bloody good at generating hard-hitting, newsworthy stories

    So is Max Clifford, FSVO “hard-hitting” and “newsworthy”. No thanks.

    No problem with Heather though; and while I have misgivings about Guido and his agenda, sometimes he gets things absolutely right.

  14. Mark Littlewood Says:

    Max Clifford isn’t my cup of tea either, but it’s not really surprisingly he’s on the media more than trades union leaders…

  15. Bishop Hill Says:

    I wondered if prospective MPs could agree their remuneration with their prospective constituents as part of the runup to an election.

  16. Nick Says:

    Yes, the man who insisted Newsnight not show his face or give his real name is just the person we want for openness and transparency. And if he doesn’t like what someone’s trying to claim for, he can just smear them as a paedophile.

    As for every expense claim being reviewed on a website before it’s paid, hasn’t suggesting the internet will solve all problems been out of fashion since about 2002? Do you seriously think any expense claim, no matter how small, will go unchallenged? How many staff are the Fees Office going to have to hire to deal with the hundred objections to Fred Bloggs MP attempting to claim back the £50 he spent on a room at Euston Travel Inn when he missed the last train home following a late night vote?

  17. Darrell Says:


    How on earth can you be in favour of Guido but not Matthew Elliot? At least Elliot has a role already consequent with the position which is much much more than can be said of Guido…..

  18. Disgruntled of North Yorks Says:

    We seem to be missing the name of a professional here who knows exactly how to do this job — and was sacked because of it.

    Now is the time for the House of Commons to make a gracious apology to Elizabeth Filken, the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner it sacked about six years ago because she tried… enforce standards. She ought to have a central part in the new order if it is to have any chance of succeeding and any credibility with the public.

  19. Alix Says:

    Because I don’t rate the TPA terribly highly on expertise. Mark might rate them because of their ability to chase column inches, but that’s not really a criterion we should be using here. At least get a semi-real expert, if you’re going to get anyone from that line of work.

  20. Andrew Hickey Says:

    The notion of letting Staines or Elliott anywhere near any kind of power is a frankly horrifying one…

  21. Darrell Says:

    Andrew is of course totally right about Guido, it seems ‘power to the individual’ has become ‘power to the restive lynch-mob’….with it being handed to somebody who’s sole qualification for wielding political power is having a successful blog…

    I think you should actually get people who are experts not whose qualifications are they are ‘no-nonsense’ and ‘wont take ****’ so the whole premise of this blog is kind-of flawed really….

  22. Mark Littlewood Says:

    Well, I sort of realised the premise of the blog was rather contentious.

    And – in practice, of course, it wouldn’t be as simple as pickign a handful of canny campaigners.

    However, Darrell, being ‘no-nonsense’ and ‘won’t take the p*ss’ are ABSOLUTELY THE MOST IMPORTANT QUALIFICATIONS.

    I find it hard to imagine that anyone, with even a cursory grasp of politics, would think otherwise.

    The total catasrophe surrounding the Speaker and the fees office is a result of the “experts” approach.

    Very good point on Filkin, btw.

  23. Darrell Says:

    Yes but running the blogsphere equiivilent to The Sun doesnt really require a cursory grasp of politics now does it lol….

  24. Mark Littlewood Says:

    Errr…yes it does.

    In spades.

    If you actually and genuinely believe that Paul Staines or the key journalists on The Sun don’t have even a “cursory grasp of politics” then you are living in a total fantasy world.

    You might not like what they do – but that’s a separate matter.

  25. Andrew Hickey Says:

    What Staines does certainly shouldn’t be rewarded…
    (BTW you might want to change the settings on this so that the emailed copies of replies don’t all come from Charlotte’s personal email address…)

  26. Darrell Says:


    Guido is on that list purely because he happens to be a famous libertarian blogger. There is no other reason to be there and I am happy to say that there is *no* chance of him ever being on a committee like this; I think most people in politics would actually find the suggestion highly amusing but it would never happen…

  27. Mark Littlewood Says:


    Thanks for the note on the emails – forgive us, we have only been live for 12 hours.


    You’re right that the list is intended to be provocative – but Guido doesn’t “just happen” to be a famous libbo blogger, he did actually bring down Draper and McBride.

  28. Darrell Says:


    Yes he did indeed but at this juncture I would point out bringing down a house of cards actually requires slightly different skills to maintaining good order in one, a subtly that Guido lacks which I presume is why there have been a few people on here who obviously like his blog more than me have said he should stick to blogging….

  29. Mark Littlewood Says:

    I think the general point I was trying to make – which seems to have escaped some readers – is that we should go for spikey, hard-edged, non-establishment types to oversee teh behaviour of our political masters.

    This wasn’t really intended to be a job interview for any of the three people I named.

  30. Darrell Says:

    Lol then we can agree more though they dont need to be so far outside the establishment that they have no appreciation of what is required. Really, the big let down of this whole episode is quite simply that MP’s havent been able to exercise basic common sense and now have created a climate in which the public have consequentially lost their basic common sense in a feeding frenzy….

    All of which adds up to more heat than light and we wont actually get sensible workable reform now until this media frenzy is over….what we will get is a series of measures announced as a reaction because the pressure becomes to ‘act now’…..

  31. Tom Wise Says:

    Hasn’t Staines aka Guido Fawkes been involved in some kind of impropriety himself? Also the Tax payers alliance love to go on about non-jobs in the public sector, but when you read the CVs of their leading people, on their website, you discover that apart from one who is a geologist, the rest all have non-jobs in the private sector!

    Let MPs claim what they want within limits and put it on-line. The electors can sack them if they don’t agree with it – this is a simple system which requires just one change – a modern, not a medieval, voting system, using transferrable votes to allow voters to move their votes between diffferent candidates within the same party.

    Strangely STV is the system imposed on Trade Unions and Northern Ireland, but not on Westminster, where it might mean an end to the Labour / Tory hegemony.

  32. Mark Littlewood Says:

    Not sure what allegations you’re making against Staines (I think he’s a declared bankrupt)

    I don’t care about ‘non-jobs’ in the private sector. I think the ‘private sector’ would be mad to show a largesse on non-jobs. But it might well happen.

    Fortunately, I’m not obliged – by law – to pay the salaries of the staff of the Taxpayers Alliance. And I have never donated a penny of my cash to them Islightly to my shame). So, if they want to go and clean out their moats, refurbish their helipads or buy some soft furnishings for their 2 or 3 homes (which they don’t), then that’s up to them.

    I have been forced to contribute to the salaries and expenses claims of MPs, however.

    And I’m not yet sure how I can inform the Inland Revenue that this is a contribution that I no longer wish to make.

    I strongly support electoral reform (although am not convinced about STV).

    But please to God, I hope no one believes that if we’d only had PR/STV then this sickening scandal would not have happened.

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