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Dave faces the lynch mob in Witney
Your webmaster attended the Witney meeting but - as usual -
got a different view of the event from the Oxford Mail.
Picture from The Daily Telegraph
|Lynch mob Just kidding right Dave needed to have a meeting so he could say to the media "I have faced my own constituents and explained my expenses claims. That is now what every MP must do". Mind you it needed to be a nice safe meeting - preferably with the party faithful. Thats the sort of organisation which Barry Norton - the local agent - is superb at. A three line whip went out to the villages. Waitrose must have been empty. Friday before Bank Holiday was the day Dave chose to appear and explain his expenses, and tell his constituents how he was going to save the country from the appalling constitutional mess which his cheating parliamentary colleagues have landed us all in. But it was clear from the beginning that nobody was going to spoil Dave's holiday weekend! For those of you who may still not be clear about this, Dave is an out and out charmer. Its what he does and there was no way that a meeting with the West Oxfordshire blue-rinse brigade was going to be anything but a love fest - even on this most controversial of topics. At the slightest sign of tension he deftly extracted the poison from any question and ended up with the questioner eating out of his hand. For example, one slightly pushy bloke who must have been a gatecrasher shouted from the balcony "The papers said yesterday that you and Samantha have got a personal fortune of 30 million so why do you need a mortgage at the taxpayers expense" All around you could see the grips on waling sticks and zimmer frames tightening. "Well - laughed Dave - if that was true I only wish Samantha would tell me what she's done with all the loot." Hoots of appreciative laughter. Our very own Hilary had a rant. She has been on doorsteps for the last month canvassing and all she hears is complaints about MPs expenses and local councillors like her are getting tarred with the same brush. She is fed up that MPs who are caught out can just say "Oh sorry I didn't realise. It was all a mistake" .....and what is her party leader going to do about it. "For a start Hilary I am going to come to your stall in Chipping Norton tomorrow morning and help with your campaign." Ripples of delighted applause ran round the room. He made it sound as if he had just thought of the idea. Lucky Hilary. One very angry lady insisted that the Speaker should NOT get a peerage when he left office. Dave told us that was up to the Prime Minister but then went on instead to tell us in detail and at length about the three lovely and much more deserving people he had given life peerages to. One trendy guy who worked in the music business complained that he was finding it increasingly difficult to justify his membership of the Conservative Party to his workmates. What advice did David have Dave simply reminisced and said how well he remembered the gentleman's visit to his surgery last year when he was able to help him with some music business issue. And he wasn't even a member of the party then....surely he hadn't lost the faith already And Dave easily got the audience on his side when a persistent representative of the National Press kept trying to ask a question and Dave pointed out that this meeting was for his constituents - not the Fleet Street pack. Hear hear - we all thought...except the irrepressible Peter Hitchens got his chance a short time later when Dave relented. (And to be honest it wasn't much of a question anyway) Traditional Tory prejudices were never far away. One questioner thought that it was all down to bad influences from Europe. He thought our own true Brit MPs had been infected and corrupted by the MEPs. One thought Parliament had lost any moral authority. How on earth could it criticise the bankers now This was all going to let in the nutters like UKIP unless we were careful. Another lady derided the suggestion that MPs were feeling hounded and some might even commit suicide "We would like to see them hanging from lamposts" she said to deafening applause. The sound of tumbrils could be heard drawing up outside the hall - parking next to the satellite TV vans. Dave explained how his claim for pruning the wisteria wasn't for pruning the wisteria at all but was actually for fixing security lights, mending a chimney extractor fan s and mending some leaks in the roof. Oh well that's OK then. Very reasonable too. Finstock LibDem councillor Mike Breakell (a bit of a card as we all know) offered to come round and prune Dave's wisteria for him next time it needed attention. The final questioner - a plant if ever I've seen one - just wanted to reassure Dave that everyone had followed the discussion carefully and thought that the fact he was paid back the interest on his 350,000 mortgage (later 250,000 after Dave managed to payoff "a little bit") was more than reasonable. Dave had told us right at the beginning of the meeting.....From 2001 to 2007 the only thing I really claimed for was the interest on my mortgage 1,700 a month on a 350,000 mortgage and quite close to the maximum allowed". But the thought had been nagging at me all through the meeting that because he was claiming for such a whopping mortgage which took him up to the maximum allowance he couldn't claim for anything else anyway. Would a younger MP who was only renting a cheap room in a London flat as his second home think it was fair that a rich man like Dave was in effect having a house bought for him by the taxpayer on which he would eventually make a whopping capital gain. How is that fair Isn't it easy to see why the other MP might turn his mind to finding ways of getting some extra benefit for himself. The simplest and smartest move for all MPs of course would have been to simply take out a 350,000 mortgage just like Dave. No problem. Lovely Jubbly.