Village People: Lacking scruples has almost nothing to do with lacking manhood

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Indy Politics

The expenses furore was "misogynistic" because "women took a much bigger hit than the men", says Nadine Dorries, the Tory MP who confessed to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner that her blog is "70 per cent fiction and 30 per cent fact" and relies heavily on "poetic licence".

So let us examine the list of the main casualties of the scandal. The four MPs or ex-MPs facing criminal charges are men. Two other men and one woman, Margaret Moran, are under police investigation. The MPs widely ridiculed for trying to claim for a duck house, the cleaning of a moat and tree surgery were all men. Andrew Mackay has been ordered to apologise because he and his wife Julie Kirkbride were claiming for two homes, but she has been cleared. Nadine Dorries suffered a lot of bad publicity, but she also has been cleared, despite her admission that what she writes on her blog is not to be believed. On the blog, she gave the impression that she lives in the constituency she represents, thus giving rise to suspicion that her claims for a second home allowance were false.

So is this 'misogyny', 'poetic licence' or, possibly, 'MP caught telling porkies claims persecution because she is a woman'?

The MP, a lost cat and a stolen kitten

In a crowded field the person who holds the crown as the nation's most ridiculous MP is surely John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat millionaire who sits for Birmingham Yardley. His blog carries "lost cat" appeal for Beauty, and an offer of a reward. Yesterday, Christine Hemming, the MP's wife, appeared in court charged with breaking into the home of Emily Cox, the MP's lover, and stealing a kitten. When asked whether she preferred to be addressed as Mrs or Miss, she replied: "I'm not quite sure." You would think, under the circumstances, that the last thing he would want to do is announce that a kitten has gone missing.

A knight to remember

Ian McCartney, the miniscule, Scottish-born former chairman of the Labour Party, donned a kilt this week, to have dinner with the former Health secretary Andy Burnham, TUC head Brendan Barber and other friends before going to the Palace where the Queen laid a sword on his shoulder, and he officially became Sir Ian. He is, he remarked happily, "the shortest knight of the year".

A1 Austin takes no chances

In Australia, they call it the donkey vote. Faced with a long list of candidates to be listed in order of preference under the AV system, voters start at the top and work down.

Next year, there will be a referendum on whether to introduce AV to British elections and it was noticeable that two members of Labour's national executive whose names began with W lost this year, The Labour MP Austin Mitchell is taking no chances. "When the system comes in I will change my name to A1 Austin," he told MPs this week.

Not all that spontaneous

Who drew up the letter from 35 businessmen that appeared in Monday's Daily Telegraph, in support of the spending cuts? The newspaper credited Lord Wolfson, giving the impression that it was a spontaneous gesture from business leaders. Others detected the hand of Andy Coulson

Conclusive evidence was given by one of the signatories, Moni Varma, on Channel 4 News. "Who asked me to sign?" he said. "Stanley Fink..."

Mr Fink, a multi-millionaire hedge fund manager, recently became Treasurer of the Conservative Party.

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