MP Expense Scandal Brings Tea Party Atmosphere to UK
British leaders got taxpayer-funded reimbursements for everything from dog food to mortgages.
May 19, 2009 - 12:30 am
This has never happened before: I had nearly completed a piece for PJ Media and then realized it was totally out of date within forty-eight hours.
I had been trying to posit that British society is not conducive to the tea party movement that has been sweeping America. First, this is a small nation without recent experience of throwing off a colonial power. Some would argue that the brave defeat of Hitler by the British nation led by Winston Churchill was the ultimate spurning of a conqueror; the American “tea party” campaign is a peacetime social movement and obviously harks back to the overthrow of the colonial mother country.
Until yesterday my analysis of why there are no anti-big-government tea party brigades pitching their tents across the British Isles emanated from my conclusion that football and cricket results are of much more importance to its citizens than are big government and bank bailouts. At the other extreme, violence has peppered the landscape when animal rights protesters have attacked laboratory researchers, anti-poll tax rioters in the West End have caused mayhem, and as reported in a previous article supporters of Palestinians have smashed London’s Starbucks branches and G20 protesters have been beaten by bobbies. There is the Countryside Alliance, a group of lobbyists in favor of fox-hunting and of other genteel preoccupations that have been cruelly (in their eyes) curtailed by the Labour regime.
So, up until mid-May I had decided that there would never be a nationwide tea party movement in the United Kingdom. Inasmuch as I watch the American news each evening starting at 11:30 p.m. London time (Williams, then Couric at 12:30 a.m. and Charlie at 1:35 a.m., followed by O’Reilly, King, Hannity, and Anderson Cooper into the wee hours) I had become acutely aware in May that the tea party movement had definitely not crossed the ocean, and in turn the British news cycle, obsessed with football and a scandal about the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s porn movie collection, had no idea of what was unfolding stateside.
Then came the MP expenses scandal. The calumnies being revealed by the Daily Telegraph newspaper make the now-dismissed misdemeanors by former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens look — literally — like a tea party. They even make former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s shenanigans look — well, like shenanigans.