13 May 2009
While the expenses scandal is utterly contemptible, it's also very funny. I suspect that Douglas Hogg's moat will probably be the main abiding image of it when it dies down and becomes part of political history.
One exceptional, priceless, jaw-dropping moment came this morning, when Austin Mitchell's wife - whose name escapes me, as she doesn't even use 'Mitchell' in it - tried to implore to Victoria Derbyshire and her 5 Live listeners that, in theory, claiming taxpayers' money for underwear supplies in their second home was not only "within the rules" (the reason, if not an excuse, for all this unseemly behaviour) but also perfectly reasonable.
A specific quote, which was played back delightedly a few times all over the BBC afterwards, went: "You've got to have your Grimsby knickers, and your London knickers, and never the twain shall meet."
She's not claiming the cost of her pants from the taxpayer, it was just a metaphor for when Menzies Campbell's state-funded bog brushes came under discussion, but nonetheless, just how deluded is this woman? Has she ever visited the planet earth? Is she a rarity, or are they all like this?
In case Austin's missus hasn't already been made aware, you can purchase something called a suitcase, and when you leave London on Fridays to jaunt up to the constituency pad in Lincolnshire, you put a few pairs of undercrackers in there, along with other garments and toiletries. Or maybe she thinks that the type of pants she chooses to protect her modesty when fulfilling consort duties in Grimsby are not suitable when going to balls and functions in the capital.
As a final and not wholly attractive thought, if this lady has her London knickers and her Grimsby knickers, and never the twain shall meet, then what does she wear on journeys between the two? Is she admitting in a roundabout way to going commando? No wonder Austin wears that daffy grin of his so often.
You see, you thought this was going to be a political post of gravitas but no, it's about women's knickers. It's the level where I'm at my happiest.