That’s what I thought some of our beloved AMs must be doing when I first saw the lists of who had claimed what. If it had only been the Tories making the outrageous claims, I might even have believed that it was a deliberate attempt to undermine the credibility of both the institution and its membership, but given that some members of all parties are at it, I had to dismiss that thought.
They say that what they have done is all within the rules, and I don’t doubt that. It means, of course there is a problem with the rules. It is clearly crazy that some of what they’ve been up to is allowable. But whilst “I was only claiming within the rules” isn’t anywhere near as bad as the infamous Nuremburg excuse “I was only following orders”, it does show a degree of the same willingness to collectively suspend the responsibility to make a personal judgement by hiding behind “the system”.
As if the individual claims weren’t bad enough, the element which most stood out for me was the decision to deliberately change the rules to allow Alun Cairns to continue to claim for a second home – a decision taken, apparently, unanimously by representatives of all four parties. Cairns, in turn, “followed the rules” and continued claiming. If his remarks about Italians didn’t finish his political career, this particular misjudgement surely will.
What I really find most remarkable is that, as with their pay rise, the AMs concerned seem to be completely devoid of any understanding of the likely public reaction to their behaviour. For instance, is there anybody, in any other walk of life, who really believes that it is necessary for someone who lives in Glamorgan or Gwent (for starters) to have a second home at their employers’ expense because they have to be in Cardiff from 9:00am to 6:00pm three days per week, for around 40 weeks of the year?
They seem to be living in a little bubble of unreality down in the Bay, where what would appear sensible and reasonable to ordinary folk somehow never intrudes. Perhaps we should ask their neighbours at Torchwood to investigate this strange phenomenon.