The media and public response to Julie Kirkbride’s completely justified attempts to clarify her entirely legal and reasonable Additional Costs Allowance claims is woefully inadequate, and risks driving an exceptional woman out of Parliament.
The Economist’s new adverts give an excellent model: ‘The World’s Crazy, but at least it’s getting regular analysis’. Additional Costs Allowance was a ridiculous system, but analysis of the problem, when put forward by MPs (unfortunately the implicated ones) has been ridiculed too, as an attempt to explain away impropriety.
There have been unreasonable claims, and it’s very unfortunate that Julie Kirkbride’s husband was the first to fall on his sword: unfortunate for their constituents for whom each was apparently doing a solidly re-electable job, unfortunate for them and particularly unfortunate for Kirkbride.
Her explanations deserve to be taken seriously. She clearly feels there’s a case to be stated, she knows the rules are about to change and she still wants to represent her constituency, despite the slurs and brickbats. Nobody’s staying in Parliament to enrich themselves, least of all the now very high profile Kirkbride. If I was a constituent of hers, that fighting spirit, determination and chutzpah would be exactly what I would want in my MP.
Cameron is right, right now, to defend her and allow her to defend herself.