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article imageOp-Ed: Lord, fraud, gaol...oh gawd!

By Alexander Baron     May 31, 2011 in Crime
London - An article about the gaoling of Lord Taylor at the tail end of the British Parliamentary expenses scandal, and an attempt to put this affair into its proper perspective.
Lord Taylor of Warwick recorded a video for his website; it begins with the touching story of how in November 1952, his mother walked down the street looking for accommodation. Holding her two month old baby in her arms, she saw sign after sign which read: “No blacks, no Irish, no dogs”.
There were indeed such signs in Britain in the 1950s, though it remains to be seen if they were ever quite as abundant as some people would have us believe. Whatever accommodation problems Taylor’s mother suffered, he will have no worries about his accommodation for the immediate future, because today he was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment for claiming expenses to which he was not entitled.
Taylor’s mother harboured great aspirations for her son; in his words - if not hers - she wanted him to be up there “with the great men and women of England”. He didn’t disappoint, because he became the first Black British peer. And the first Black British peer to be sent to gaol. And he is indeed up there with the great men of England. Jeffrey Archer, another peer, was sentenced to four years for perjury. And Lord Lucan is still on the run for the murder of his nanny in November 1974.
On his website, Taylor says that his favourite musicians include Nat King Cole, the man with the velvet voice. He says too he takes singing lessons, which may be true, but Nat King Cole he ain’t; the video includes him singing Amazing Grace. His voice is certainly amazing, but grace doesn’t come into it.
Taylor has long stressed that he wanted to be a role model for black youths. To that end he has married white – twice – and become involved with black charities. Alas, for John Taylor, charity begins at home. His first wife – who has a bizarre tale to tell - had their marriage annulled shortly after the honeymoon; their “union” was never consummated. One of the charities with which he is involved is the Warwick Leadership Foundation, which he set up himself. He is very proud of this, although he doesn’t mention that it paid him £4,000 between April 2006 and April 2008.
Taylor is no manner of role model for black youth or for any youth; indeed he has far more in common with Jeffrey Archer than any of Britain’s leading blacks in or out of politics, because he literally oozes self-gratification, but does it make any sense at all to send him to gaol? It would have been far more productive if he had been ordered to repay what he embezzled – which apparently he hasn’t – fined the maximum permitted by law, and sentenced to community service, again the maximum permitted by law, where he could have been set to work assisting old folk under David Cameron’s “big society” plan, or picking up dog faeces in the local park.
Lord Taylor of Warwick.
Lord Taylor of Warwick.
The sorry affair of the Parliamentary expenses scandal is now as good as over. Although an extreme case, Taylor's is nowhere near the worst, but no one wants to hear the story about the “duck island” or the tale of the sacks of horse manure again. Having said that, the hysterical reaction of the public rather than the mass media to this affair has been a wonder to behold. Few people outside the UK can imagine the mock outrage that was generated by the exposure of this so-called scandal, especially by journalists, who have never been shy about padding their own expense accounts. And fewer if any recall the words of John Prescott who shortly after it broke said that the reason it had come about was that MPs were underpaid, and that as they entered Parliament they were taken aside one by one and encouraged to claim whatever expenses they could.
Eighteen months ago, the cost of the inquiry was estimated to be around one million pounds; the total repaid is around a million and a half, which represents poor value for money in anyone’s book. When one considers there were at the time 646 MPs, a little arithmetic shows that over the two year period involved, the amount overclaimed averaged less than £23 per member per week.
According to the UK Independence Party, the UK subsidises the European Parliament to the tune of £40 million every single day. Even if this figure is a gross exaggeration, it makes little or no sense to chase MPs for such a relatively tiny sum; we would be far better off withdrawing from Europe, and the Treaty of Maastricht, which would have the added bonus of freeing us from the European Central Bank, and would enable Britain to finance its deficit by creating its own credit free of usurious interest. The logic of that course of action is irrefutable, just don’t hold your breath waiting for it.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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