My mum has a habit of saying things like "see these MPs and their expenses, it's a disgrace" followed very quickly with "you better have claimed yours by the way". Isn't it always different when it's your family? I'm sure my mum probably thinks that all politicians are corrupt except for me! And I'm sure everyone else's mum or dad or partner thinks the same of them.
Anyway today I finally claimed back some of my expenses. Of course I lie to my mum and tell her that "yes mum I've put my claim in". I need her to believe that I have learned my lesson from the time that I left a job with an outstanding expenses claim (accumulated over a few years) of around £3000.00! This was when I had no money as well! And my reason? I didn't like to. I felt guilty about claiming it.
I have always worked for "good causes" and it's hard to take a salary off them never mind claim back expenses. If it's any comfort however, I do try really hard to get good value for money for the taxpayer. For example when I had to redesign my Glasgow office because of changed staffing. A company came in and quoted me £3000 and the parliament would have paid it. Seemed a tad extortionate to me so I got someone else in who quoted £2000. For a few desks?
Anyway to cut a long story short, I spoke to the cleaners in parliament and asked them where unused parliament furniture went and they told me. So I managed to kit out and redesign my office for zero money! I got it all second hand. And can you believe I had someone trying to dissuade me on the grounds that the furniture might have some scratches on it. (I of course consulted all the staff and checked that they could cope with the odd scratch and what do you know, they said they could!) The same person told me that the money wasn't coming out of my MSP budget, it would be met centrally so I should not worry about it. I know!! I was gobsmacked too. Like centrally met bills are not really bills at all!
Anyway that's worked. I now don't feel so bad about claiming my expenses because my expenses claim was nowhere NEAR that amount. Plus it'll keep my mum happy. Mind you, if she thinks I've been claiming all along, I can hardly announce it to her like it's the big deal it is. Right, this is not really blogging, this is just rambling. It's 11pm, I'm still in parliament and I've been here since 7.20am - that's my excuse for rambling. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.