Expenses: How’s it going to go down in the marginals?

Expenses: How’s it going to go down in the marginals?

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Will the “good guys” find it easier to hold on?

With the Daily Telegraph dominated by pages of new revelations about expenses the thought strikes me that we ought to start watching out for the impact on marginal seats – particularly those where there are betting markets.

For those MPs who’ve attracted the worst coverage are going to find it that bit harder to hang on when the general election comes. Their opponents, assuming they are smart, are going to exploit any excesses to the maximum and that’s likely to have an impact when the votes are counted.

Thus from this morning’s crop of revelations Barbara Follett sits for Stevenage -Tory target number 70 which will fall to Cameron’s party on a swing of just 4.25%. Even without this she looked like a sure loser.

But what about Ben Bradshaw who is alleged by the Telegraph to “.claim the entire interest bill on his property – despite owning only half”.? At the election he’ll be defending Tory target 176 – Exeter and might with an 18.7% majority have expected to have just squeezed in. Could this make the difference – I think it could? No betting market here yet.

The paper reports that the Luton South MP, Margaret Moran , “spent £22,500 of taxpayers’ money treating dry rot at her and her husband’s seaside house 100 miles from her constituency – days after switching her “second home” there.” I know Luton politics well and that ain’t going to go down well there. Her seat is Tory target number 140 and in the betting the Tories are already favourite to take it. The 8/11 looks tempting.

Oldham East & Saddleworth MP, Phil Woolas has already had a high profile week for other reasons and today’s report is not going to help him with his defence against the Lib Dems for whom the seat is target number 33.If a betting market is put up then a wager on the Lib Dems might be worthwhile.

This list is going to go on and on and I like to think that the “good guys” of all parties – those who have not sought to exploit the system – will be rewarded by the voters. Let’s hope so.

Mike Smithson

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