Why such fuss over Jacqui Smith's expenses claim?

I'm sorry to blog about Jacqui Smith two days in row, but I'm a little baffled by the whole situation.

Has the Home Secretary come under such criticism because she claimed a "TV package" on expenses, or because that package included two pornographic films?

The BBC says
: "MPs can claim for subscription television services but they have to be used wholly, exclusively and necessarily to perform their duties."

Obviously, the blue porn movies didn't help Smith perform her duties (so to speak), but neither, presumably, did Surf's Up or Ocean's 13 – the other films covered by the claim.

Had Smith only claimed for the latter films, I'm sure she wouldn't now be facing quite such criticism and anger – but what, really, would be the difference? The same rule would have been broken.

This suggests that the anger aimed at Smith is fuelled in part by people's feelings towards (legal) pornography, and not solely by misuse of the expenses system.

Anyone care to agree or disagree with me?


The Ridger, FCD said...

Nope. You are obviously correct.

Have any male politicians rented "blue movies" and then been so condemned?

Anonymous said...

I'm disgusted by it all. How can a politician even begin to claim TV expenses (obviously satellite TV)?? BBC parliament and the news are the only relevant channels they might argue over, and they're free!

Didn't she also claim for stuff like a 99p sink plug (in a house already subsidised).

Resign woman, you're a disgrace!!

Gareth said...

I think it's mostly to do with public dissatisfaction with Jacqui Smith (and the government she represents), and her rather broad-minded approach to expenses. The fact she is already being investigated for a potential abuse of the second home allowance makes any similar story immediately newsworthy.

So we have a combination of the following:
- unpopular government minister caught doing something wrong, again
- yet another expenses scandal for widely-disliked government
- topical credit crunch storyline
- public humiliation for errant husband
- the opportunity to write the headline JACQUI SMITH IN PORN SCANDAL (which is something I hoped I'd never have to read)
- opportunities for prudish mid-market tabloids to write outraged articles about porn on the telly

How can the editors resist? At the end of the day, the taxpayer is paying for Jacqui Smith's husband to have a wank.

Personally, I think Ms Smith is an embarrassment and clearly far too used to being able to stick any household bill she likes through on expenses; I'm enjoying this particular scandal greatly.

Roy said...

I agree with Gareth that this is a belting scandal. I think the fact that she appears incompetent, unqualified and totally out of her depth for what is a huge, and very important role, makes her look even more ridiculous.