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Who are the real thieves?

Peter Viggers' infamous duck house

Jeremy Dewar points to the hypocrisy surrounding the moral outrage prompted by the riots

Britain is facing a “slow-motion moral collapse,” said David Cameron as he toured Britain following the riots, “This has been a wake-up call for our country. Social problems that have been festering for decades have exploded in our face.”

He and his fellow ministers went on to denounce a culture of irresponsibility, where everyone knows their rights but refuses to accept the consequences to their actions.
But where does this culture comes from? Answer:  the very top.

After all, Members of Parliament were not so long ago found guilty of mass corruption, claiming from the taxpayer expenses incurred during the course of carrying out their duties, which included:
• A duck house, costing £1,645 (Peter Viggers – Tory)
• The clearing out of a moat around an MP’s 13th century mansion, costing £2,200 (Douglas Hogg – Tory)
• “Renting” a room in her sister’s home, costing £116,000 over six years (Jacqui Smith – Labour)

Only a handful of MPs and Lords (none of the above) were ever prosecuted for this £1.1 million theft. Not surprising since those who investigated the crime were the MPs themselves.

Cameron himself was in on the act, claiming £102,874, close to the maximum allowance over five years and accepting a £350,000 loan to pay off a second mortgage, despite having made £935,000 on the property market in Kensington.

His deputy Nick Clegg claimed £84,000 for work on his second home, a “modest” property in a “complete state of disrepair,” he said dismissively at the time. But are not second homes supposed to be for working from? And if so, why did he buy a ramshackle, rundown ruin? Could it be so he could do it up and make a profit – at our expense?

Cameron and Clegg protest that they broke no rules. But since they make, break and rewrite the rules, this really cuts no ice.

But even this grand theft is a mere pick pocketing compared with what has been going on elsewhere.

First, there was the credit crunch in 2006-08, which revealed that the banks were trading in billions of pounds of “toxic debt”. But far from making the banks and hedge funds take responsibility for this and collapse, politicians around the world agreed to bail them out with taxpayers’ money, because the banks were “too big to fail”.

Then, when this led to huge national debts, the same politicians – and the bankers – turned round and told the people we had to pay off the debt with job cuts, service closures and lower pay, pensions and benefits. Meanwhile, the banks have raked in billions in profits and their top employees have hoovered up millions in bonuses.

Only this summer we have found out that Rupert Murdoch’s media empire was bribing coppers, while hacking into the phones of everyone from celebrities to murder victims.

The vile Murdoch promised to support political parties’ election campaigns in his publications if they passed bills that helped his businesses. He paid police chiefs for phone and PIN numbers, offering them jobs in return. His editors befriended working class victims, while secretly blagging into their private matters in order to expose them.

But who this year has been tried or imprisoned for any of this corruption? Apart from the original fall guys, Greg Mulcaire and Clive Goodman, only one person: Jonathan May-Bowles, who got a jail sentence for throwing a foam pie at Rupert Murdoch.

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