Through the MP keyhole

Glittery loo seats or designer chairs? Annie Deakin names the politicians with bad taste and those with style

Call me shallow but I want my country’s leaders to set an example; not just in moral and social situations, but also in terms of design and fashion. The financial horror of the politicians' expenses has irked the whole nation in more ways than one. The monetary implications are appalling - but so are the exposed interior styles.

Pillaging from the public purse is one crime. Spending our hard earned cash on atrocities such as a glittery loo seat and hanging baskets is quite another. The design crowd went up in arms when it was revealed that John Reid expensed a £24.99 black glitter loo seat from Homebase. What was going through his mind? The thought of the former Home Secretary going home to a glittery loo seat is too much to bear. With such dodgy bathroom taste, Reid deserves to be the butt of our jokes.

Search for the perfect furniture with The Independent house and home database, powered by mydeco.

Like sarcasm, lavatorial humour is nowhere more appreciated than in Britain. To our puerile glee, the expenses scandal threw up wonderfully indiscrete loo revelations. In addition to Reid's sparkly number, it emerged that John Prescott claimed for the repair of a broken loo seat not once, but twice in two years. Best not to dwell on those thoughts… To add insult to injury, the former Deputy Prime Minister added more expense claims; one £580 receipt revealed to all his sickening-sounding saffron carpet. 

Next in line to be slated on the style front is "Housing" Minister Margaret Beckett. Oh, the irony of her job title when, quite frankly, her £600 claim for hanging baskets has left home editors quivering. And as for Jacqui Smith, it wasn’t the expensed adult movies that riled me the most but her DFS-style sofabed, dining table combo and "antique-style fireplace". It conjured up unsightly visions of The Royle Family.

It’s not all doom and gloom on the design front in parliament. Amidst a cacophony of dowdiness, there is the odd style-conscious MP who could lead our country into a sophisticated design future. Junior minister Kitty Ussher was entangled in the scandal. Ussher had written to request an expenses-paid makeover of her rundown Victorian town house, "Most of the ceilings have Artex coverings. Three-dimensional swirls. It could be a matter of taste, but these count as ‘dilapidations’ in my book!" It was swindling the system but at least, for a renovation of some style.

Their financial means remains indefensible but for some MPs, their choice in furnishings is commendable. The OKA Chinese-style Manchu chest (as claimed by Tory Michael Gove) certainly didn’t help him carry out his parliamentary duties but at least it is beautiful. Rising Liberal Democrat Julia Goldsworthy bought a chic £1,200 leather rocking chair from designer furniture store Heal's.

People often say that you don't know someone properly until you’ve seen their home. Last year, when David Cameron welcomed ITV into his lair, it wasn’t his political messaging that enthralled the nation but his interior style. As husband of fashion icon Samantha Cameron and son-in-law of OKA founder Annabel Astor, it's no surprise that Cameron's house has the look of an interior designer. His mirror ball silver pendant lights by Tom Dixon and framed poster of a Bergman/Rossellini film is tasteful and refined.

Seeing the expenses scandal unfold has been like watching a series of Sir David Frost's TV show Through the Keyhole. Shallow or not, I've learnt more about our MPs in the past month than years of their erudite lecturing.

Annie Deakin is Editor of mydeco.com

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas