Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Goodbye Ms Miller

At last Maria Miller has resigned as a Cabinet Minister. The only question I have is why she didn't go a week ago following her non apology. I cannot for the life of me understand why Cameron didn't have a quiet chat last week. It does no one in politics any good when politicians behave in this manner. There is no excuse. In Barnet there has been a lot of froth in Barnet about the revelation that a Barnet Councillor is being taken to court by the council for Council tax arrears. We don't at present know the circumstances or the identity of the individual. As far as  I'm concerned, if the individual has deliberately avoided payment, they should go. If they are having financial problems due to extenuating circumstances, such as illness or loss of a job, the case is less clear cut. Without the facts being in the public domain, we don't know, but the Tories have used the fact that it is a Labour councillor for political advantage. This is a strange double standard given their reaction to Brian Coleman getting charged with assaulting Helen Michael in 2012. It is such hypocrisy and double standards that bring politicians into disrepute. Well that and all the fiddling of expenses.


John S said...

Deliberately withholding information that affects your claim is Stealing.

Those are the words clearly stated on the DWP website for benefit claimants, for items such as housing benefit.

Like it or not what Miller was claiming was a housing benefit from government, no different to the poor and the have nots the disabled and others that this evil government pursue through the courts for every penny they may have deliberately or inadvertently obtained by dishonest means as is the case with Miller.

What disturbs me is she resigns and gets away with it, when in fact she should now be investigated by the police, rather than her mates in parliaments closed shop who have a vested interest. Then like any other benefit claimant she should be subjected to the full force of the law appertaining to benefit cheats.

Don't Call Me Dave said...


Yes, Mrs Miller should have resigned a week ago. Actually, she should have resigned 16 months ago when this investigation started. Mrs Miller owned the home in London but rented the home in her constituency. Her parents and children lived in the London home. It is self-evident that the London home was her main residence, not her second home. If MPs still cannot see how this arrangement failed Cameron’s “sniff test” then these scandals will continue to damage the integrity of Parliament (can it be damaged further?)

Yes, the Conservatives should have booted out Brian Coleman once he was charged. The serious nature of the charges warranted immediate suspension of the party whip. It was weak leadership that allowed him to cling on for so long. I defend Coleman’s right to remain a councillor because the law is quite clear that his non-custodial sentence allowed him to remain in office. You can argue that the law is wrong, but that is a separate debate. Coleman is standing again next month and the voters will decide his fate. That is how it should be in a democracy. How much damage this incident has done to the overall Conservative election campaign remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that Cornelius judged this situation completely wrong.

As for the current issue surrounding the unknown Labour councillor, the situation is made worse by the silence from the Labour Party. Mrs Angry has implied that the Labour leader, Alison Moore, has ordered the councillor not to reveal his/her identity. When will political leaders understand that the truth always comes out in the end so it is always best to come clean at the outset to minimise the damage. The suspicion is that the delay in releasing the details is in order to allow Labour to find a way to spin this story to minimise the political damage.

The councillor in question was being pursued for £1,400 unpaid council tax. Mrs Angry says there is a bona fide reason for non-payment, but as yet we don’t know what that is. Perhaps the property was put in the wrong council tax band; perhaps the council forgot to apply a single occupancy discount; perhaps the property was vacant for the period in question and entitled to a three month exemption? All of these are legitimate reasons, so if the councillor has a legitimate excuse, why not just say so?

The maximum council tax charge for 2013/14 was £2,832.40 for a Band H property. The minimum charge for Band A was £944.13. So the amount owed by this councillor could be anywhere between 6 and 18 months arrears. This suggests that the council did not rush to issue a summons.

If the councillor has financial difficulties, that is unfortunate but the council has established processes to deal with such a situation. But those who are paid from the public purse must at all times ensure that they not only abide by the rules but are seen to be abiding by the rules. Political affiliation does not come into it, and it will annoy all taxpayers to know that there is a councillor seemingly accepting a monthly allowance from taxpayers on the one hand, but not paying his/her dues with the other, without good reason.

By withholding the information this close to an election, it appears very suspicious.

Rog T said...


We don't crucify people because things appear 'very suspicious'. Just suppose the issue is due to a tragic sequence of events? Something where the Labour group felt the person should be given some privacy?

Having said that, my own personal guess is just that the Labour group have mismanaged the whole thing. If they have, it will blow up in their face and I for one will not be an apologist. But the fact is we don't know.

I pay my Council tax by direct debit. I don't see any reason why anyone should not simply set up the order and be done with it. So I have no sympathy unless there is a genuine reason.

The Council should name and shame if they get a successful prosecution and shout from the rafters that they will vigorously chase non payers. The publicity may persuade a few people to pay up.

What amuses me is that a few silly Tory plant comments imply that the issue of dodgy politicians is purely Labour in Barnet. We all know that there are a whole barrel of bad apples of all colours.

We had Coleman convicted for assault, a Tory done for DD, Tambo and his parking ticket, etc, etc People in glasshouses... I'd be happy to see all of them slung out

Don't Call Me Dave said...


OK, let us suppose you are correct that this isn’t a case of ‘won’t pay’ but ‘can’t pay’ due to tragic or unforeseen circumstances. Does that entitle the councillor to privacy that would not be given to any other resident facing a summons in similar circumstances?

The arrears have now been paid. If the matter had gone to Court, the identity of the councillor would have been known immediately because Court lists are public. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that a third party was called upon to pay the arrears to save the Labour party (rather than the councillor involved) from embarrassment.

The fact that Alison Moore is seemingly trying to close this story down makes it even more of a story. If a statement had been put out on day one explaining the circumstances of the late payment, Labour could probably have come out of this unscathed, without naming the councillor. The public are not heartless – they understand that sometimes things happen. But this veil of secrecy means that people will assume the worst.

The lesson here is that if you don’t want the public to know your private business, don’t stand for public office.

Rog T said...

Erm hold on a second. I did not say there were extenuating circumstances. I said we didnt know the facts. You however are simply guessing and making a lot of assumptions.
Neither of us know. end of.