Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

I Taught the Lords to Fiddle

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

I Taught the Lords to Fiddle

Article excerpt

It's unfortunate that the three Labour peers suspended for expenses transgressions are all of Asian origin. It has led to angry accusations that there is a racist component to the fingering of the noble creative accountants.

It must be difficult for New Statesman subscribers to work out the politically correct response to the evidence that these members had their mitts in the till. Every left-leaning fibre in your bodies is screaming out to excuse them, while knowing that to forgive their trespasses simply because they are not white and Anglo-Saxon is patronising and, yes, racist. Does your head hurt?

Yet I know there is no connection between the culprits' ethnicity and their cupidity. You see, early last year I ran a secret seminar for peers of the realm, concerned that their attendance allowances were lagging far behind what they could earn as non-executive directors if they were good enough to get on the boards of public companies. The event was extremely well attended, despite the [pounds sterling]5,000 fee, payable in cash (no new notes or continuous serial numbers).

At my seminar, I instructed the class in creative claiming, living in two places at once and hiring deceased relatives. So far, so good. But then I fear the final session--Covering One's Tracks -may have employed an excess of technical language, and that students not born and educated in this country might have been at a disadvantage. I also recall there was something of a rush for the exit before the end of the last session as the older peers realised that if they didn't leave before the beginning of the rush hour they wouldn't be able to use their pensioner's bus passes. …

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