Political

Will £66,000 expenses claim sink Labour MP Dawn Butler?

So asks Ross Lydall over in the Evening Standard about the Brent Labour MP, Dawn Butler:

How many voters are ready to turn against their MP over the expenses scandal? A fascinating battle in a hotly-contested north London constituency looks set to provide some answers.

On one side is Labour whip Dawn Butler. On the other is Lib-Dem MP Sarah Teather. They have been thrown together in a new seat as a result of boundary changes, and there is now a fight to the death to see which one returns to Westminster after the election to represent Brent Central…

What Ms Teather, described as a “saint” by one newspaper for her expenses record, doesn’t say is that Ms Butler was one of the MPs shamed in last summer’s scandal.

Ms Butler has claimed £66,304 since being elected in 2005 for her constituency home in Wembley – despite having another property in Stratford. When the Standard challenged Ms Butler (left) on this by knocking on the door of her (publicly-funded) constituency home, she told our reporter: “I totally resent you coming to my private home. Have some respect. How dare you.”

One of those controversial expense claims from Dawn Butler was for a whirlpool bath.

(For a more detailed explanation of Dawn Butler’s controversial expense claims, including a link to a wonderful BBC TV report on the issue, see my earlier post.)

Of course, Dawn Butler is no stranger to readers, what with the unfortunate incident of forgetting who your local MP is, the disappearing statement, questions over Dawn Butler’s attendance record in Parliament, not to mention Dawn Butler’s highly unusual approach to local newspapers, as demonstrated more than once.

I think the polite term for this is “accident prone”, though there was also the more serious issue of the Labour smear leaflet which resulted in successful legal action by the Liberal Democrats and Dawn Butler’s record of trying to block reforms to MPs expenses.

UPDATE: And the verdict of the voters in the 2010 general election? Sarah Teather beat Dawn Butler.

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