Sunday, December 18, 2011

Jollies and junkets

Politicians and their party members have never shied away from milking the system often enough cadging a free holiday by way of a study visit, lasting a fortnight with a quick visit to some sort of edifice with photo shoot to show that they didn't spend all their time on the beach or partying. Pretty much the same went on at local government level with town twinning. So it's not too surprising that this goes on at EU level too and in the classical EU way there are few checks and balances within the system as according to the it would be “complex and time-consuming”, though in reality it's more down to them not giving a damn about our money as to the average politico it's actually their money.
Well now they are extending their largess to their political supporters...

Even as it grapples with the financial crisis, the European Union is paying almost £25 million this year to subsidise the trips, arranged through MEPs.
The BNP, which has two Euro-MPs, has made heavy use of the scheme to thank some of its most prominent members at taxpayers’ expense. One BNP official boasted that it was “a good way of rewarding our activists” that “didn’t cost the party a penny”.
The trips are ostensibly “study visits” to the European Parliament buildings in Brussels or Strasbourg, but the holidaymakers need spend only a fraction of their time at the parliament to claim the full subsidy, which can be collected in cash without the need for receipts.
One subsidised trip to Strasbourg last week, promoted by the Labour MEP Peter Skinner, lasted six days, with only a few hours spent at the parliament. 
The rest of the visit, according to a programme seen by The Sunday Telegraph, included a river cruise, a tour of the cathedral, a visit to the city’s Christmas market, champagne tasting, a battlefield tour in Ypres and sightseeing in Reims. Like most MEPs, Mr Skinner did not join the party, but hosted a free dinner for the participants.  
Politicians of all parties help to arrange the trips. Hornchurch and Upminster Conservative Association advertised a break to Brussels, including return travel by Eurostar and a night in a city centre hotel, for £80.
“We have almost a whole day to sight-see, wander around the Christmas market and pick up inspiration for gifts,” said the association’s website.
Bill Newton-Dunn, the Liberal Democrat MEP, promoted a three-day weekend break in Brussels this month for £205, advertising it on his website as a “Christmas shopping” trip.
The article is mostly an attack on the BNP, though it's fairly obvious that all the political parties are rewarding their loyalists at taxpayers expense, these being the same political parties who are looking at taxpayer funding rather than individual funding for themselves as well. Problem is, they don't see what they are doing as wrong, that those who pay for subsidising their little junkets are struggling to make ends meet too.
Mr Butler defended the visits, saying: “Everyone had fun and it didn’t cost the party a penny. The trips are a good way of rewarding our activists for their hard work and dedication. Should we feel guilty for the Euro taxpayer? Certainly not.”
Conveniently forgetting that UK taxpayers are also EU taxpayers by various means as well, £9.2 billion at the last count.
We really do need to get out of the EU to stop this sort of thing, however as Richard North at EUreferendum points out, leaving will not work without a proper plan. But getting out of the EU will just be the start, we need to root out this sort of peculation and profligacy root and branch. I don't have a problem with politicians being paid a decent wage and recompense for genuine expenses, but I do have a great anger at them digging into the public purse for frivolity and junkets for their hangers on and political supporters. No-one should be getting any sort of subsidised holiday courtesy of the state as a reward for being attached to a political party.
The fact that they don't see anything wrong with it tells you all you need to know about the scum elected to represent us.

1 annotations:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Jeremy Clarkson was right - line them up and shoot them. This might help to concentrate their minds on looking after the tax-payers, not just themselves.