Ottaway, expenses, and a lack of transparency and openness

Perhaps we should not be surprised when an MP makes a promise, and then, very shortly afterwards, fails to keep to it.

But the behaviour of Croydon South’s absentee MP Tricky Dicky Ottaway demonstrates that, once he secured the local Conservative Association’s nomination to stand again at the General Election, he took it as an excuse for another five years on the gravy train at the expense of ordinary tax-payers. Indeed, he was even caught fiddling his election expenses. An “administrative error” Tricky Dicky would have us gullible plebs believe.

Since then, promises for more openness and accountability by Tricky Dicky have proved to be just empty rhetoric. Some might call them “outright lies”.  For Ottaway has failed – deliberately, or is he just too lazy? – to post his monthly expenses on his own website as he solemnly promised local Tories.

“Following the recent publicity about MP’s Allowances, I am now publishing my monthly expenses on an ongoing basis,” Ottaway promised.

But, as at today’s date, there’s not been a single update in the past 10 months, since last November.

The question is, will the local Tories do anything about Ottaway’s contemptuous treatment of them, and the electorate of Croydon South?

Worried by Ottaway’s money-grabbing as exposed last year among the rest of the MPs’ expenses scandal, Croydon South Conservatives held a closed meeting – “openness”? Ha! – among their members.

“In the past few weeks there has been widespread and justified concern expressed over the system of parliamentary allowances and expenses,” a local Tory party spokesman said then.

“Richard Ottaway has apologised to constituents for his part in allowing an indefensible system of allowances to develop. He shares the local party’s view that MPs should act honestly and decently. We expect MPs to live by the same rules and standards as those they wish to represent. No MP is above the law.”

“Indefensible”.

“Honestly”.

“Decently”.

Hmmm.

After that statement by the local Conservatives, Ottaway himself has written to constituents, saying, “It is a matter of regret that the system was not more transparent”.

“More transparent”.

Wonderful stuff: if only it were true.

Examination of Ottaway’s voting record when he has been representing the people of Croydon South shows that – when he has bothered to turn up and vote at all – he voted against proposals to provide more openness and transparency about MPs’ expenses and conduct.

However, Ottaway has voted in favour of denying freedom of information applications about his and other MPs’ expenses.

That is not only “allowing an indefensible system of allowances to develop”. It is actively opposing a “more transparent” system.

It is actively trying to keep details of his and other MPs on the gravy train out of the public domain.

We challenge Richard Ottaway and the local Conservatives to explain to the people of Croydon why.

And why the absence of those expenses on the Ottaway website?

We shan’t be holding our breath as we wait for an answer.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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